Finland’s School Success

What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland’s School Success, an article by Anu Partanen in The Atlantic.

A 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.”


1 thought on “Finland’s School Success

  1. The whole traditional culture is different. Finnish children seem to grow up in an atmosphere that does not need to ‘actively value’ education: the value of literacy, society, school, etc. is simply like breathing. This seems to determine everything. (Well-qualified students want to teach; teaching is secure and valued; students do not even begin to think about seriously misbehaving; tasks set are tackled; uninspired but competent teaching is used by students to learn what they can; etc.)

    But I suspect this coherent society is now being challenged by greater immigration, non-native speakers, consumerist pressures – though to what extent is hard to guess.

    And we should not forget that PISA is a lousy instrument to compare students and systems. If one is going to listen to just one measure, listen to university mathematicians’ and scientists’ comments on what currently emerges from Finnish schools: they seem much more dissatisfied than UK academics.


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