Schools in Finland and Student Evaluation
The nation of Finland is recognized throughout the world as one of the highest performing nations. Over the past decade, Finnish students have been high performers on all international exams both before entering university and upon completion of university. In Finnish schools, students never take a standardized test. Students are evaluated by their teachers. The high quality of their teachers is the key to successful students and successful schools. The teaching profession as a whole has high standards for entry and for preparation. There are no shortcuts to becoming a teacher in Finland. Teachers are highly respected, just as much as other professions.
Finland believes in high-quality teacher education. Students apply to enter teacher colleges at the end of high school. Finland has eight teacher preparation institutions that are highly selective. Only one of ten applicants is accepted, based on multiple measures, including an essay, an entry test, an interview, and evidence of a high motivation to teach. In addition to studying liberal arts subjects and the subjects they will teach, future teachers study pedagogy, theory, and conduct research about education. They learn how to teach students with disabilities. They take the study of education seriously. They practice teaching. Preparing to become a teacher takes five years. Then and only then may they become teachers. Higher education is completely free. Finland views education as a basic human right, and as such, free of cost to students. Thus, graduates of higher education in Finland have no student debt to pay off. They can get as much education as they want at no cost to them, because it is good for society.
Because there is no standardized testing, teachers are never evaluated by the rise or fall of their students' test scores. There is no value-added assessment in Finland. Finnish teachers use technology as a matter of course. The arts are very important in Finnish schools, as are recess and physical education. Almost every Finnish teacher and principal belongs to a union. They belong to the same union. The union represents the interests of the profession in discussions of national policy. Once a person becomes a teacher, they have lifetime tenure. Few people leave the profession for which they have trained so rigorously. The working conditions are good. They are held in high esteem by their fellow citizens. The teaching profession is highly valued, and the classrooms are student-centered, test-free, and devoted to the full development of each child's full humanity. Perhaps the US Dept. of Education and the proponents of "Race to the Top" should takes some lessons from the Finnish educational system.
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