Look to Finland, not New York

26 11 2008

Why has Julia Gillard picked Joel Klein, Chancellor of New York Public Schools, as an educational messiah?  Seems to me it would make more sense to look at what makes the top education systems in the world work so well, not New York, but Finland.

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an internationally standardised assessment that was jointly developed by participating countries and administered to 15-year-olds in schools. At the 15 September National Curriculum Board NSW Forum in Sydney, which I attended, Dr. Barry McGaw, Chair, National Curriculum Board, introduced statistics on the decline of Australia in the OECD PISA Reading tables from 2002 (4th) to 2006 (7th), mainly in the higher percentile bands. (Yet we do much more for remedial reading than we do for the gifted, in terms of staffing and funding.) In literacy, Australia slipped from equal second to equal sixth from 2000 to 2006 in the ratings. The US hardly rates a mention in science and literacy. Australia is actually higher in science than the US. Finland is tops in both…….

As top performer in science in PISA 2006  Finland was followed by Hong Kong-China, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Estonia, Japan and New Zealand. U.S. students placed 29 out of 57 countries in science literacy and 35 out of 57 in math literacy.

Trevor Cobbold of Save Our Schools, Canberra, has stated in his recent blog, “Julia Gillard would have done better to invite Dr. Sakari Karjalainen, Director-General of Finland’s Ministry of Education, to advise on effective policies to improve equity in education rather than someone whose policies have been shown to be ineffective.” Read further at the SOS blog about the lack of achievement in New York schools and what Cobbold calls Klein’s skulduggery in hiding the truth.  Chris Bonner has also looked at the lack of evidence for Klein’s so-called achievements.  The Australian Education Union also has analyzed the evidence which reveals a remarkable lack of achievement in Klein’s New York model.

Open your eyes to the facts, Julia.  Highly qualified and rewarded teachers, by Finland’s example, are what gets results, not “skulduggery” and league tables.

PS.  In the interest of openness and transparency, I should also declare my Finnish ancestry:-).

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