In about one week , there will be an extravaganza of behemouth proportions for the next edition of the Super Bowl between two football teams that are well prepared and coached in all facets of planning , skills and organization. The gridiron foray will be on February 5th , and it will be played before millions of viewers across the World. In another playing field will be the debate why American schools can’t be aligned with those in Finland , who is ranked number one by Newsweek magazine.
In a survey by (OECD), Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development , Finland’s Schools ranked near the top overtaking such powers as South Korea and China. The survey compares schools in different countries in math , science and reading. The 2009 survey by PISA reported that the United States has muddled its way to just an avearge score in the three competencies. Foreign delegations have traveled to find out why Finland has ranked high in all the scoring procedures . The questions that have prevailed wonder why that sucesss is accomplished through creative play , less homework and exemplary school reform .
There have been articles from the NY Times and televison shows that have reported the following details about why there is success in Finland : There are no private schools ; no tuition or private universities from the K – PHD levels , which means every student attends public schools. In the United States , it still behooves the education system to answer how to track student performance , accountability for bad teachers , merit pay , how to provide for school choice , and the standardized testing dilemma.
Finland has no standardized testing , and the teachers are trained to assess children with tests that are created by them and each classroom. A report card is given at each semester ,which is an independent grading by each teacher . Pasi Sahlberg , Director of the Finnish Ministry of Education for International Mobility notes that all teachers and administrators are given prestige , decent pay and responsiblity. A key example is that there really isn’t competition between teachers and schools, but sharing with others through cooperation.
Every child has the same opporunity to learn , regardless of family background , income or geographic location. Their schools are safe with healthy environments and that includes free meals , accessible health care , counseling and student guidance. Even decades ago when Finland was in need of school reform , the goal was never excellence , but equity . On the other side of the spectrum are the U.S. schools , which has gone through a financial crisis and has brought problems of inequality and that chasm of who can afford the tuition of a private school or even a house in a good public school system seems unrealistic.
Recently , a report by the Center of Education Policy found that 48 % of the nation’s public schools failed to meet NCLB goals in 2011. It is clear that NCLB will not reach its main goal of all states being proficient in 2014. The Center points out that there is a flaw in the way states measure the AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) for the schools’ performance. There is no consistency as each school sets its own standards , creating its own proficiency goals and testing with its own exams. The current state of NCB is that there are increasing amount of schools not achieving the adequate yearly progress and there are no consistent measures to assess that progress.
With the Finnish system and how they differ with those in the U.S. can be attributed to no mandated standardized testing , autonomy for teachers and administators , higher educational requirements , and students start school later along with more time playing at school .
Recently , two school districts in Pennsylvania , Chester Upland Schools in the Philadelphia area and Duquesne City School District near Pittsburgh have felt the wrath of the budget crisis and Governor Corbett’s axe of millions of dollars from the public schools. Chester Upland’s teachers are working with no pay as money has run out . At Duquesne , a financially and academic failing school is also feeling a bankrupcy procedure that may have legislators relegating the school as a charter school , and to cancel teachers’ contracts. In each case , the distressed schools will hope for a security fund to complete this years scheduled classes.
Finland has pushed to even out social inequality and public education for every child regardless where they go to school or what kind of families they come from . The U.S. faces economic inequality , but if the school had smaller classes, funding , and well educated teachers , then that will give hope for the future of the students . The game plan has been set and the combatants are ready to meet their destiny and it will be a matter of time if the goals are reached or are stopped before crossing the endzone of success. One will be the underdog and the other a much larger opponent in size . The important question will not only be the outcome , but the way it earned the prize.