Finland is several heads above the United States in public education. They used to be about the same in terms of student testing. Then in the early 1970s, the Finns decided to undergo a massive reconstruction of their educational system. They took off, leaving the US in the dust.
Finland has the highest test scores in the Western world. How’d they do that?
Finland’s students have the western world’s shortest school days and shortest school years. That’s to give kids time to be kids. They’re in school no more than 20 hours a week, and that includes lunch. They’re also among the least tested students in the world. Finland provides a vast social safety net for all families. Finnish students get almost three times as much recess as US students. All of this is because Finland has a student centered education system. The success of students is the most important thing in the Finnish system.
In the United States, increasing the corporate profits of the publishing industry is the most important thing the US educational system is supposed to do. So most everything in the US K-12 educational system is geared toward testing.
Corporate profits are had with every test a child takes. This is precisely why US students are the most tested in the world, and by a wide margin. However, it gets worse than that. Standards are continuously raised, even if most of the students, or a significant segment of them, fail the current standards. That’s because the higher the standards, the more students fail and need to retake the tests, over and over again, until they pass the tests, or they move up in grade. Every test students are forced to take provides the testing industry with greater profits. But when a sufficient number of students begin to pass the tests, the standards are raised, or the tests are changed, to make them more difficult to pass.
The movement to tie teacher pay to the success of student testing forces teachers to teach to the test. Recess has been massively cut at many public schools. Recess has been eliminated in some. US education is about massive test preparation, and much of the preparation materials comes from the US publishing industry, which increases their profits.
The last thing the people behind US educational reforms want, as well as the corrupt politicians behind them, is an educational system that prepares students to be better citizens and gives them enhanced job skills, although many educators try to do this in what spare time they have to teach this stuff.
The testing industry keeps this farce going by giving campaign contributions and other perks to US politicians, which is precisely why the US educational system typically ranks about thirtieth in the world, and never moves up, and why Finland typically rates in the top five, and is often number one in the world.
In the US, educational reform means redistributing local and state tax dollars to the rich shareholders of the testing industry. Local control of public education means the testing industry might not be able to get away with this theft throughout the US, and this is why the Feds have become more involved in K-12 public education.
In other words, financial corruption guides US government K-12 educational reform, while the needs of students guide educational reforms in Finland.