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Sat Dec 22, 2012, 12:44 AM

 

So Much For Finland (Education)

Read this article in Gates Education Week about the TIMSS and PISA scores (international comparisons) and you will learn that on the latest tests, Finland is no longer the "miracle" education performer:

Tom Loveless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution...said in an email that the new results call for some rethinking of what he calls the “Finnish miracle story.”

“If Finland were a state taking the 8th grade NAEP, it would probably score in the middle of the pack,” he said, in a reference to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. He said that four of the U.S. states that participated in the 8th grade TIMSS—Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Indiana—posted scores that were higher than Finland’s by statistically significant margins in math, while three more had results that were about the same.

“Finland’s exaggerated reputation is based on its performance on PISA, an assessment that matches up well with its way of teaching math (applying math to solve ‘real world’ problems),” he wrote. “In contrast, TIMSS tries to assess how well students have learned the curriculum taught in schools...”

Even so, Finland’s performance fell short of the results for the top-performing East Asian countries. It also was lower than Massachusetts’ score of 567.

www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/12/11/15timss.h32.html?tkn=SSUFJtnVOiuV3pdisqLlW0fg%2Bm35vSoOaD5p&cmp=clp-edweek


The hand-wringing and kvetching that accompanies these articles about international test comparison studies are over the top.

The obsession with data tracking leads many so-called (and usually self-professed) education "experts" to declare a latest, greatest "miracle" every time out and shriek about how we MUST follow this latest, greatest "miracle" or risk falling into second class country status. It's interesting how often the "latest, greatest" miracle is shown to be neither the "greatest" nor a "miracle" a couple of studies down the road.

Here in the U.S. we of course had the "Houston Miracle" and the "Texas Miracle" and the "Florida Miracle" and all of those were eventually exposed as fraudulent or oversold. Now Brookings and a few others in this latest Gates Education Week article on the international scores are saying, "Maybe Finland, while a terrific performer, isn't the 'miracle' we thought it was..."

Is it just possible that the so-called (and often self-professed) education "experts" don't know what they're talking about ? Is it possible there is more to education than just this obsession with data? Is it possible these international test comparisons tell us a lot less than we think about the state education?


http://perdidostreetschool.blogspot.com/2012/12/so-much-for-finland.html


And to remind y'all:

US students in districts with 10% or less poverty score at the top of all such international comparisons.

US students in districts with 25% or less poverty score in the top tier.

US students in districts with 50% or more poverty score at the near bottom of the pack.

It's the high rate of poverty, stupid.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 12:55 AM

1. Drives me crazy.

Why aren't we learning from US states that work well, instead of studying other countries that don't perform as well, or creating untested programs like RTTT?

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Reply #1)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 01:02 AM

2. It's because if your urban school district is anything like ours (Rochester, NY 45% graduation rate)

Your BOE and administrators are spending large amounts of cash on nearly half a dozen quarter million dollar studies to re-invent the wheel, rather than focusing on what works.

However, fixing the problem of dwindling graduation rates in high-poverty urban areas doesn't make wealthy, out-of-state white men lots of money...but I digress.

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Response to Earth_First (Reply #2)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 01:35 AM

3. the absolute business-speak *crap* coming out of those guys is so appalling. reinventing the

 

wheel is exactly it -- & not as well. if i hear one more person talk about 'flipped classrooms' like they were a cure for polio i'll puke. like it's some completely new thing that no one ever thought of until bill gates came along. gag, puke.

every damn thing they tout, without exception, is just a rebranding of things teachers already do. they're sickening.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #3)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 02:18 AM

4. Oh, you are right, entirely. I just don't think lining up to beat up Finland is the right

way to go. The Finns worked on their problem and have it straightened out and of course it works because it has a socialist system. But it also has strong unions for its teachers and everybody else. So you have to deal with labor policy issues too.

The fact is that Finland owned up to its education system's problems in a productive way,by bringing in all the players to the table. Nothing wrong with that.

If I were a parent of a school age kid, I would love having a Finland style school for him or her. It's just silly not to see their advantages and yes, it is in large part because they have more economic equality in their country, by a long shot...

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Response to CTyankee (Reply #4)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 02:29 AM

5. i'm not lining up to beat up finland. i'm not sure how that is the take-away message.

 

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #5)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 07:24 AM

7. OK, I might be missing something here. I was a bit puzzled by the whole impetus

behind the OP and I couldn't quite figure it out. Bear with me, I'm post-op from some surgery a week ago, so my thoughts may not be all in order quite yet...

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Reply #1)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 06:34 AM

6. Why aren't you learning?

 

A healthy self-confidence without low self-esteem and inferiority complex problems (matched by ego boosting bullying) knows how to learn from all good sources and positive experiences and to put that into larger context of sound ethical world view.

What strikes out from the interviews of Finnish teachers I've read on DU is that they really don't give a shit about PISA etc. results and the manic test and competition culture. What they care about is kids, teaching and learning.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 07:27 AM

8. What is the problem in US schools?

Childhood poverty

thank you for posting this

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