Pasi Sahlberg Blog

Finnish education reform

Why Finland Isn’t Overly Concerned By Declines in Student Test Scores

Interview in World Politics Review, 15-3-2017 Last year, schools across Finland began implementing the country’s new National Curriculum Framework, which was first approved in 2014. Though the country, long praised for its school system, has seen test scores decline in recent years, the reforms show the Finnish government is more focused on other problems. In an email interview, Finnish educator, author and policy adviser Pasi…

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Interview with Washington Post: What has happened to Finland’s schools?

By Joe Helm, Washington Post, Dec 8,2016 What has happened to Finland’s schools? That’s a question educators around the globe are asking in the wake of the latest results of an ongoing study that measures academic achievement in 73 countries. For much of the 21st century, Finland has been one of the very top performers in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), an ongoing study administered every three years…

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Next Big Thing in Education: Small Data

By Pasi Sahlberg and Jonathan Hasak* Published in Washington Post, 9 May 2016 One thing that distinguishes schools in the U.S. from schools around the world is how data walls, which typically reflect standardized test results, decorate hallways and teacher lounges. Green, yellow, and red colors indicate levels of performance of students and classrooms. For serious reformers, this is the type of transparency that reveals more data…

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Why Students Need to Know How to Write an Op-Ed

By Pasi Sahlberg and Jonathan Hasak “Atticus told me to remove the adjectives and I’d have the facts.” – Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird, 1960) Schools of education everywhere aim at preparing their graduates to change the world. The challenge, however, is that typical means of communicating reform knowledge are too slow and too weak to make an impact. Students may have knowledge about what to do, but they often don’t…

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The Myth of Education Marketplace

Today education policymakers and politicians around the world face a twin challenge. Schools should do more with less, and at the same time, education systems should score higher in international education league tables. As a consequence, governments are looking for education policies and reform models from better performing countries, often by employing fashionable ideas, such as corporate management models, to catch up the leading…

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Just let me teach!  

Professional autonomy allows teachers in Finland to do what their peers in the U.S. can’t Imagine this: You spend a day in a typical American public school cruising from one classroom to another observing what teachers do. Then you do the same in Finland. What would you expect to see? Many things would probably look similar. But, without a doubt, you would notice one big difference: Teachers in Finland would be much less concerned…

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Myth of the Myth about Standardized Testing in the U.S.

“Education myth: American students are over-tested,” says the title in the Hechinger Report on 7 December 2015. That story covers the frustration of OECD’s education chief Andreas Schleicher after he attended recent education summit held at the White House. Schleicher concluded that the United States is not a country of heavy testing and that standardized testing is not the bottleneck for improvement. Wait a minute. So,…

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Britain should be wary of borrowing education ideas from abroad

Posted in The Guardian, 27 April 2015 Policymakers need to be careful of myths about foreign education systems, such as Finland’s, and what has made them successful arliamentary elections in Finland this month passed without parties making any references to education. In the UK general election, education is at least on the agenda for the two main parties. One of them, Labour, has recently been courting the idea of adopting…

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What makes United States and Finland so great?

Conversation with Howard Gardner - Published in The Huffington Post on April 2, 2015 "American scholars and their writings, like Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences, have been influential in building the much-admired school system in Finland." -- Pasi Sahlberg A little over 4 decades ago, Finland transformed its education system as part of the country's economic recovery plan. Finnish students had become the best…

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Finland’s school reforms won’t scrap subjects altogether

Published in The Conversation, 25 March 2015 Finland’s plans to replace the teaching of classic school subjects such as history or English with broader, cross-cutting “topics” as part of a major education reform have been getting global attention, thanks to an article in The Independent, one of the UK’s trusted newspapers. Stay calm: despite the reforms, Finnish schools will continue to teach mathematics, history, arts,…

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