High regard for education a key to Finland’s success
Possible reasons behind Finland’s continued success in international tests of student achievement were presented to ACER’s Research Conference by Professor Patrik Scheinin from the University of Helsinki. He presented the case of the Finnish comprehensive school to discuss strategic questions of educational policy, teacher education and teaching.
Finland has been a top performer in the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) since its inception. The country’s education system has been closely scrutinised by educators around the world, keen to find the answers to why some countries perform better than others on PISA.
Professor Scheinin told conference delegates that how the school system of a country manages the students’ learning potential counts more than the amount of money a country spends on education or other socioeconomic factors such as parents’ education or students’ attitude towards school.
“The countries with the best PISA results do all manage to ensure that the weaker students are not left behind,” Professor Scheinin said.
“What makes the Finnish school system specially interesting from the perspective of educational policy is that it is the only comprehensive school system with top PISA results.”
Professor Scheinin attributed Finland’s success to a combination of factors including the nation’s high regard for education and the teaching profession; the high standard of applicants for teacher training; a nationally coordinated curriculum and the nation’s inclusive comprehensive school system that provides all students with a high quality general education.
“The role of schooling as part of the Finnish history and cultural heritage is remarkable,” Professor Scheinin said. “Education of the people was used as a strategy in creating the nation and teaching has been and still is a highly regarded profession.”
Patrik Scheinin is a Professor of Education and the Dean of the Faculty of Behavioural Sciences at the University of Helsinki. He is a Vice Director and a founding member of the Centre for Educational Assessment and a member of the steering group of the Finnish PISA project.
Professor Scheinin’s conference paper, slides from his presentation and a brief video interview can be found on the Research Conference 2009 web page.
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