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What does Finland claim is the secret to its educational success?

Classrooms in the United States may benefit from taking a look at Finland’s educational strategies

Parents, teachers, faculty and administrators all have one goal in common: improve student achievement. Of course, theories of how to do so are consistently under discussion. With the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, students are expected to experience greater success in the classroom and have the skills to carry them on through college and to an eventual career. In recent years, Finland’s educational leaders have been claiming their success is due to their special values.

Recently, Finnish students have been producing some of the highest test scores in the world. In fact, according to the PISA survey, Finland ranked at the top, or close to it, in reading, math and science – appearing close to competitors South Korea and Singapore. What has been placing Finnish students at the top of the academic charts? According to Finland’s educational leaders, here are a few things they believe are contributing to their success:

Easy on the homework:
According to The Atlantic, part of the strategy lies in less homework and more hands-on, creative and individualized learning. Schools assign students less work to take home and engage children in more creative play instead.

No standardized testing:
Finland does not administer standardized tests to their students. Instead, everyone takes the National Matriculation exam – a test everyone takes at the end of a voluntary upper-secondary school. However, this raises the question of student progress. Teachers create independent tests themselves and give each student an individualized report card. The Ministry of Education also works to track national progress through testing a few sample groups across a range of various schools.

No private schools:
Finland has no private schools or private universities. In fact, no schools are allowed to charge tuition fees. Instead, almost every student, whether they’re learning elementary math or getting their Ph.D., attends a public school.

Selective training program:
Teachers in Finland are often given decent pay and the profession requires a master’s degree. The training programs are fairly selective.

Should American schools implement some of Finland’s strategies? Many American educators are giving a closer look at some Finnish education values. For one, blended learning, which incorporates a variety of teaching mediums into educational theory, is also right in line with Finland’s progressive ideals approach.

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