torstai 25. elokuuta 2011

New York, New York - what have you done?

While Finland still rules the world of education, according to the Pisa tests, without much of a student testing, United States (and many other countries as well) still believe in standardized tests. The latest news comes from New York.

According to the Wall Street Journal the state of New York has ordered to release student test data with teachers' names attached. New York officials obviously believe that the teachers can really make miracles. United States is among the countries where social disparity is one of the greatest in the western world. It is well known that where social disparity grows, the learning goes down. So, how can they compare the pupils of Fifth Avenue to the pupils of, say, Upper West Side or Bronx.

The much discussed Finland phenomenon is really about keeping all the pupils, the whole age group, at the same level of learning. There are really few, if any, drop outs in Finnish schools. That is the trick. Finland doesn't have all the greatest students in the world, but social disparity in Finland is really one of the lowest in the world and we want all the children to achieve good results.

So, how do we do that? For sure, not by putting the teachers to compete with each other. Nor do we put the pupils to compete with each other. We encourage the children to only compete with themselves. We want them to perform the best they can at their own level. We don't do standardized testing. We compare the pupil's results to their former results and encourage them to do better than the last time, not better than the person sitting next to you.

I hope, both for the pupils' and the teachers' sake, that the state of New York will re-evaluate their decision and instead of releasing the student test data and the teachers names - will release the students and their teachers from the standardized tests.

In case you want to learn more of the Finnish education system, you may want to check Finnish educator's and CIMO director Pasi Sahlberg's article Lessons from Finland.

9 kommenttia:

  1. Mainio artikkeli jaettavaksi myös ulkomaisille vieraille. Niitä teilläkin varmasti riittää.

  2. Ei vielä jonoksi asti, mutta ehkä pian ;-)

    t. Esa

  3. Sinulta tulee sujuvasti tekstiä niin suomeksi kuin englanniksi!

  4. I think one of the problems with exporting Finnish thinking to the US is that our values are very different. Whereas we might think that it's important that no one drops out of school, someone in the US might think that it's more important that at least one person receives a nobel prize.

    I think it's easy for the US to say that our excellent school results aren't turning into excellent results on the university level, which is also true. Why is that?

    I would say that we have a more balanced society in Finland, which I think is great, but it's not everyone's ideal. In the US many would say that it's more important that people can become super successful than that society is equal.

  5. Kiitokset kommenteista Martti ja Kari.

    Martti, voit ilman muuta suositella kouluamme jos tarkoitat esim. vierailukohteeksi monenlaisille kontakteillesi. Koulupiirirajat muodostavat pienen ongelman muunlaiselle suosittelulle ;-)

  6. Riku, you have excellent points in your comment. It's very true that our societies and values are different.

    It's just that US school administratives very often wonder why they don't make it in the PISA tests. The answer is pretty clear. To stand out at PISA, you'll have to succeed quite evenly throughout the whole age group.

    It's also true that many US universities stand out in the rankings better than we do. But that's a whole other story ;-)

  7. Yep, I guess it's just something to consider. I think succeeding in PISA is excellent, but so is having world-class research universities... Let's see if we can do both!

    I'd love to come by your school some day for a coffee and discuss more Esa.

  8. Sounds excellent. Just give me a call before you come and I'll arrange the time.

    You'll find the directions and number from here: