Analysis of Finnish Education System to question the reasons behind Finnish success in PISA

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Studies in Educational Research and Development, vol.2, no.2, pp.93-114, 2018 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)


Finnish students have been showing outstanding achievement in each domain since the very first The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2000. Finland has consistently been not only one of the top achievers but one of the countries with exceptional educational equity as well. In other words, very high literacy scores are just one side of the coin for Finland, what is more extraordinary is very little between-school variation, very high academic and social inclusion, and a high percentage of resilient students, which all point out the “Finnish Miracle” in educational equity. In this paper, we analyze the Finnish Education System to question the reasons behind this extraordinary success. We use three different sources to do that; a literature review, about 100 hours in-class observations, and the interviews with 11 teachers in an international school and a training school in Finland.  The literature review covers a variety of related documents, such as articles, books and some official documents like national core curricula and Finnish Basic Education Act. We also scrutinized some other documents provided by The Ministry of Education and Culture, the highest authority regarding the education, and Finnish National Agency for Education (EDUFI). Based on the results of this study, we conclude that there is no single and isolated factor but there exists a system of interrelated factors to explain Finnish success. The quality of teachers and teacher education seems to be the most prominent factor in this system. Furthermore, the emphasis on the educational equity, long-term educational policy, culture of trust, reading habit of Finnish people can be the other reasons for this success. Finally, a high level of cooperation helps the educational system to work smoothly.