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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 11:17 AM
Original message
Dreaming of Finland
Edited on Sat Mar-07-09 11:21 AM by bemildred
As a USA-ian, I want to say this whole discussion sounds quite familiar.

There are many reasons why Israeli students do poorly on international math and science exams, but one sticks out because it is so simple: Doing well on these exams is not our education system's goal. "Advancing educational achievement" is only 12th on the Education Ministry's list of goals.

Israel's education system is like the team that walked onto the field without practicing, and was surprised it didn't win the championship. The low marks are not evident only in international competitions: The education system is having trouble increasing the matriculation rate (which is less than half the number of students eligible to take the exams), despite the continuous lowering of educational standards and requirements.

In the debate over education quality, two sides are facing off: The "business management" advocates, who want to compensate teachers based on results; and the teachers unions, which are demanding raises and smaller class sizes. Education researchers say that teacher quality has the greatest impact on student achievements, but the debate rests on how to develop quality teachers. Over the past few years, the education system was tossed between approaches. When Likud's Limor Livnat was education minister, she appointed the Dovrat Committee, which recommended a corporate model of measuring achievements and paying teachers differential salaries. The teachers unions considered the Dovrat report an attempt to curtail their power, and foiled its implementation. Livnat's successor, Labor's Yuli Tamir, focused on increasing resources and making classrooms smaller. The teachers' union joined her effort (dubbed "New Horizon"), which will be applied to the entire elementary education system in two years. The secondary school teachers' union has maintained its opposition.

--- Edit: I just have to get this paragraph in: ---

The differences between war-torn, socially polarized Israel and a peaceful Scandinavian country are obvious. But this is not the sole obstacle to copying their model. The Finnish educational reform took four decades, and the three persons who headed the program identified the following conditions for success: evolutionary, slow change, without rapid breakthroughs; parallel development of strong public institutions, a flourishing economy, a dynamic welfare state and the rule of law; and most important, "a stable political environment." The Finns also focused on narrowing the differences among their own schools, before taking on the Koreans.
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Peregrine Took Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 12:33 PM
Response to Original message
1. Very interesting. Thanks. n/t
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LeftishBrit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 01:10 PM
Response to Original message
2. Very interesting indeed-
and not only relevant to Israel.

BTW, Finland does not go in for this super-managerial constant assessment of teachers and schools over the meeting of 'targets', let alone for payment by results (a system that almost strangled British state education at its birth in the 19th century). It does spend a lot of money on schools; has a very high teacher-to-pupil ratio; and has a culture that values education.
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 01:31 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Good schools are organic, integral to society, they are grown, not manufactured.
And yes, it is relevant everywhere. In Israel, I think it's a guns or butter issue, as another poster said the other day, and properly used a sound incentive to negotiate a settlement so all that money can go where it is needed.
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azurnoir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 03:07 PM
Response to Original message
4. Thanks
Israels educational system is almost as messed up as the US's, the reasons for this should be looked at.
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