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Paul Beaufait

What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland's School Success - Anu Partanen - National -... - 16 views

  • 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."
  • The main driver of education policy is not competition between teachers and between schools, but cooperation.
  • Decades ago, when the Finnish school system was badly in need of reform, the goal of the program that Finland instituted, resulting in so much success today, was never excellence. It was equity.
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  • Finland -- unlike, say, very similar countries such as Norway -- was producing academic excellence through its particular policy focus on equity.
  •  the number of foreign-born residents in Finland doubled during the decade leading up to 2010, and the country didn't lose its edge in education. Immigrants tended to concentrate in certain areas, causing some schools to become much more mixed than others, yet there has not been much change in the remarkable lack of variation between Finnish schools in the PISA surveys across the same period.
  • 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.
  • When Finnish policymakers decided to reform the country's education system in the 1970s, they did so because they realized that to be competitive, Finland couldn't rely on manufacturing or its scant natural resources and instead had to invest in a knowledge-based economy. 
  • It is possible to create equality. And perhaps even more important -- as a challenge to the American way of thinking about education reform -- Finland's experience shows that it is possible to achieve excellence by focusing not on competition, but on cooperation, and not on choice, but on equity.
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    Partanen, Anu. (2011). What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland's School Success. The Atlantic. Retrieved January 9, 2012, from http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/what-americans-keep-ignoring-about-finlands-school-success/250564/
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