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Why Are Finland’s Schools Successful?

“We prepare children to learn how to learn, not how to take a test.”

Finland has vastly improved in reading, math and science literacy over the past decade while other nations struggle. Why? The article below argues that its teachers are trusted to do whatever it takes to turn young lives around.

The transformation of the Finns’ education system began some 40 years ago as the key propellent of the country’s economic recovery plan. Educators had little idea it was so successful until 2000, when the first results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a standardized test given to 15-year-olds in more than 40 global venues, revealed Finnish youth to be the best young readers in the world. Three years later, they led in math. By 2006, Finland was first out of 57 countries (and a few cities) in science. In the 2009 PISA scores released last year, the nation came in second in science, third in reading and sixth in math among nearly half a million students worldwide. “I’m still surprised,” said Arjariita Heikkinen, principal of a Helsinki comprehensive school. “I didn’t realize we were that good.”

What can the world learn from educational change in Finland? Read Finnish Lessons to find out.

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