Case Study #2: The Finnish success story
In all the PISA assessments since 2000, Finland has consistently ranked at the top and also performs consistently across schools. In 2012, while it did not rank in the top five for maths, it came 12th out 65 and was above the OECD average of 494 with an overall mean score of 519.
Table 2.1 Top five highest PISA results
Source: OECD, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013d
According to an OECD (2011b, p. 118) report, no other country has so little variation in outcomes between schools, and the gap within schools between the top and bottom-achieving students is extraordinarily modest as well. Finnish schools are highly equitable and offer fair opportunities for all its students regardless of family background or socio-economic status (OECD, 2013c). According to the Finnish National Board of Education (2011), The main objective of Finnish education policy is to offer all citizens equal opportunities to receive education, regardless of age, domicile, financial situation, sex or mother tongue. Education is considered to be one of the fundamental rights of all citizens.
Because of its remarkable success, Finland has become a destination for modern-day education travelers who are looking to find the reasons behind the success of Finnish schooling.
Answer the following key questions: Conduct some research on Finland. How is the system organised? Who is responsible for education? Who are the teachers and how are they trained? What do students study? How do the answers to these questions (and any others you have thought of) contribute to the Finnish success? Do you think Finnish schools might be more equitable and if so why? What are the reasons behind Finlands success? Is it possible for other countries to copy the Finnish system? With strong performances from Asian countries in the 2012 PISA round, will China in particular become the next destination for education travelers?