Last week’s most-clicked ASCD SmartBrief story, “Texas School Reformers Try to Learn Lessons from Finland,” tells how reformers are looking more closely at Finland’s academic programs for clues on improving Dallas schools. Though Finland’s school system is much smaller and its students much less diverse than public schools in the United States, Finland’s getting attention from the States for establishing a single, straighforward curriculum for all schools; setting high expectations; and freeing well-trained teachers to do their jobs with less restrictions. Finland has also maintained a steady stream of education funding, with particular emphasis on the years between 7th and 9th grade, and Finland’s math instruction focuses on creative problem-solving.
Finland faces some challenges to high academic success—increasing numbers of immigrant students and a 14 percent dropout rate among boys. Through continuous evaluation and improvement, Finnish educators and policymakers are rising to these challenges and inspiring reformers in the United States.
Is your school or district looking internationally for ways to raise academic achievement?