Finnish schools

Great article about Finland's education system.

For starters, Finland has no standardized tests. The only exception is what's called the National Matriculation Exam, which everyone takes at the end of a voluntary upper-secondary school, roughly the equivalent of American high school.

Instead, the public school system's teachers are trained to assess children in classrooms using independent tests they create themselves. All children receive a report card at the end of each semester, but these reports are based on individualized grading by each teacher. Periodically, the Ministry of Education tracks national progress by testing a few sample groups across a range of different schools.

As for accountability of teachers and administrators, Sahlberg shrugs. "There's no word for accountability in Finnish," he later told an audience at the Teachers College of Columbia University. "Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted."

Interesting read!

Having been to Finland recently, I can say that my impression was very favorable, as far as general interactions with people. Intelligent, friendly, and very proud to show off their country to foreigners. Definitely did seem to have a very high quality of life, other than the cold.

For Sahlberg what matters is that in Finland all teachers and administrators are given prestige, decent pay, and a lot of responsibility. A master's degree is required to enter the profession, and teacher training programs are among the most selective professional schools in the country. If a teacher is bad, it is the principal's responsibility to notice and deal with it.

Contrast the bolded part to our country, where statistically the bottom third of college students end up majoring in education.

Finland's average veteran teacher salary is 13% lower than the average salary for college graduates. The average US veteran teacher salary is 40% lower than the average salary for college graduates.

Additionally, Finland gives teachers more autonomy and works to increase the status of the teaching profession.

I don't find it surprising that an employer (in this case, the Finnish government) is able to attract better candidates when offering better pay and status.

Plus it is easier to make something work in a country of 5 million people like Finland than a country of 312 million like the US.

LeapingGnome wrote:
Plus it is easier to make something work in a country of 5 million people like Finland than a country of 312 million like the US.

Not to mention a far more homogenous population.

I'd think that decentralized approach would work even better in a bigger country.

LeapingGnome wrote:
Plus it is easier to make something work in a country of 5 million people like Finland than a country of 312 million like the US.

I hear that excuse a lot, but being 312 million people doesn't prevent us from taking steps that work. What does prevent us is the sense of economic entitlement. Folks believe that being rich means that they can deny basic and adequate education for nearly half of American school age children. I see it here even in progressive Howard County. Folks here don't want to give a dime to improve Prince Georges County schools because they're desperately afraid that their pampered kids won't have a leg up on some unknown ghetto genius.

NathanialG wrote:
LeapingGnome wrote:
Plus it is easier to make something work in a country of 5 million people like Finland than a country of 312 million like the US.

Not to mention a far more homogenous population.

The article does note that they compared to Norway as well, which is similarly homogenous, but their schools have performance much more like America, with a school system closer to ours...

Don't know if folks are reading the article or not, but here's one relevant excerpt.

Samuel Abrams, a visiting scholar at Columbia University's Teachers College, has addressed the effects of size and homogeneity on a nation's education performance by comparing Finland with another Nordic country: Norway. Like Finland, Norway is small and not especially diverse overall, but unlike Finland it has taken an approach to education that is more American than Finnish. The result? Mediocre performance in the PISA survey. Educational policy, Abrams suggests, is probably more important to the success of a country's school system than the nation's size or ethnic makeup.

Indeed, Finland's population of 5.4 million can be compared to many an American state -- after all, most American education is managed at the state level. According to the Migration Policy Institute, a research organization in Washington, there were 18 states in the U.S. in 2010 with an identical or significantly smaller percentage of foreign-born residents than Finland.

Paleocon wrote:

Great article about Finland's education system.

Quote:

For starters, Finland has no standardized tests. The only exception is what's called the National Matriculation Exam, which everyone takes at the end of a voluntary upper-secondary school, roughly the equivalent of American high school.

Instead, the public school system's teachers are trained to assess children in classrooms using independent tests they create themselves. All children receive a report card at the end of each semester, but these reports are based on individualized grading by each teacher. Periodically, the Ministry of Education tracks national progress by testing a few sample groups across a range of different schools.

As for accountability of teachers and administrators, Sahlberg shrugs. "There's no word for accountability in Finnish," he later told an audience at the Teachers College of Columbia University. "Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted."

This would require huge reform including the breaking up of the teachers union.

Ulairi wrote:
This would require huge reform including the breaking up of the teachers union.

Or not.

Finnish schools have actually come up before in P&C:

http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/1...

Paleocon wrote:
LeapingGnome wrote:
Plus it is easier to make something work in a country of 5 million people like Finland than a country of 312 million like the US.

I hear that excuse a lot, but being 312 million people doesn't prevent us from taking steps that work. What does prevent us is the sense of economic entitlement. Folks believe that being rich means that they can deny basic and adequate education for nearly half of American school age children. I see it here even in progressive Howard County. Folks here don't want to give a dime to improve Prince Georges County schools because they're desperately afraid that their pampered kids won't have a leg up on some unknown ghetto genius.

I don't think the problem is lack of money. I don't think most people vote against school taxes because they want their private school kid to have an advantage, it is more about the schools have already gotten increases of millions with no corresponding scholastic improvement and they are tired of giving and yet still being asked for more. I read something a year or two back that American public school per student spending is the highest or near highest in the world. Also comparing state education budgets does not have much correlation to the states that have the highest education quality/test results.

When your school system has more administrators than teachers you have a problem and the problem is not that you need more money.

Paleocon wrote:
LeapingGnome wrote:
Plus it is easier to make something work in a country of 5 million people like Finland than a country of 312 million like the US.

I hear that excuse a lot, but being 312 million people doesn't prevent us from taking steps that work. What does prevent us is the sense of economic entitlement. Folks believe that being rich means that they can deny basic and adequate education for nearly half of American school age children. I see it here even in progressive Howard County. Folks here don't want to give a dime to improve Prince Georges County schools because they're desperately afraid that their pampered kids won't have a leg up on some unknown ghetto genius.

I was going to say, you are aware that we spend more per student than most places in the world. The problem is we waste most of it.

bandit0013 wrote:
Paleocon wrote:
LeapingGnome wrote:
Plus it is easier to make something work in a country of 5 million people like Finland than a country of 312 million like the US.

I hear that excuse a lot, but being 312 million people doesn't prevent us from taking steps that work. What does prevent us is the sense of economic entitlement. Folks believe that being rich means that they can deny basic and adequate education for nearly half of American school age children. I see it here even in progressive Howard County. Folks here don't want to give a dime to improve Prince Georges County schools because they're desperately afraid that their pampered kids won't have a leg up on some unknown ghetto genius.

I was going to say, you are aware that we spend more per student than most places in the world. The problem is we waste most of it.

I certainly agree that there a lot of waste, but much of that has to do with the fact that our system (or lack of one) intrinsically ties education quality to real estate values. This goes back to what I said above in the quoted section.

Go to school in Korea, for instance, and your access to a school appropriate to your academic ability is limited only to your ability to express your potential on national exams. Go to school in Finland and your access doesn't seem to be limited much at all. Go to school in the United States, however, and your access to a quality education is limited by your choice of parentage and their ability to afford to move to places like Howard or Montgomery County.

That, to me, represents a gigantic atrocity perpetrated on American children and, consequently, America's future.