Since the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results came out, all the buzz has been about how well Finnish students performed. The PISA is given to 15-year-old students to assess their ability in math, reading, science, and problem solving. The 2012 test data was from 510,000 children from 65 different countries. The US students were right in the middle of the pack, just behind Spain, Russia, and the Slovak Republic. Finland scored in the top quartile, with a dramatically different educational system. What makes a Finnish education better?
Start with High Quality Teachers – This is really the start and the foundation of Finland’s success. They recruit high quality teachers. Teaching certificates are only awarded from the top universities in Finland. The criteria for entering the teaching profession in Finland is high, and most teachers have advanced degrees. When you start with a higher caliber teacher, so much more is possible in the classroom. High quality teachers allow for trust, decentralized control, and freedom to do what’s best for students. Lower quality teachers require more oversight, supervision, and centralized control. Finnish teachers are an honored profession. Thus, teachers in Finland are more respected, better qualified, and better paid.
A Quality School for Every Student – All students in Finland have access to high quality teachers. Due to Finland’s success at attracting, retaining, and respecting high quality teacher, there are plenty to go around. In the US, high quality teachers are drawn to high income schools with better work environments. Less desirable poor and rural schools suffer to find good staff. Quality teachers in Finland are not only found in wealthy areas; lower income and rural areas also possess quality teachers. This ability to distribute quality teachers elevates the academic performance of the whole nation, making Finnish education better.
No Mass Standardized Testing – Finland does not have exams like the STAAR and/or Common Core. Once Finland established a foundation of quality teachers, high stakes standardized testing was no longer needed. Finland relies on high quality teachers to guide and assess students in the classroom, and it works. Though Finland does not rely on high stakes test itself, their students performed exceptionally well on one standardized test, the PISA. Finland’s student success on this exam is what has led many to study the keys to their success.
More Individual Student Attention – More individual student attention leads to better education. Finnish teachers work fewer hours a day with fewer students. Finish students also have shorted class days, less homework, and more recreational time. The end result is a less stressed school environment, more creative and inspired teaching team and better prepared students. The lower student-teacher ratio allows Finnish teacher to give students more individual attention.
If you think your child could benefit from school environment focused on making education better, we’d be happy to talk to you. With no mass standardized testing, and a high quality staff, and individual attention for all students, our school aligns with the Finnish approach. Contact us today to learn more.