Rejection of Low-Quality Testing Methods

Finland credits the rejection of standardised testing as one of the biggest reasons for its success. While kids are not tested, their abilities are constantly assessed. Their teachers scrutinized their work throughout the year — not to decide whether they would pass or fail — but to understand how their skills were developing and how to help them.

Finland doesn’t waste time or money on low-quality mass standardised testing. Instead, children are assessed every day, through direct observation, check-ins and quizzes by the highest-quality “personalised learning device” ever created – flesh-and-blood teachers.

How Finland Became The Best?

Alteration of Roles

Dr. Pasi Sahlberg said another reason the education system in Finland had succeeded was that “only dead fish follow the stream” — a Finnish expression.

Under the new curriculum teachers will become enablers who no longer spoon-feed facts to their students, but instead help them to learn and understand.

Teachers will no longer be information providers, and pupils will no longer be passive listeners. We want schools to become communities where everyone learns from each other – including adults learning from children.

Assessment methods must be versatile and support the learner’s development. There is a particular focus on self-assessment, something that has long been employed in Finnish education.

A Sanctuary for Scholarly "Refugees"

It is not mandatory to give students grades until they are in the 8th grade. Finnish schools assign little homework, because it is assumed that mastery is attained in the classroom.

Finland’s education system was a place of refuge — one where children could be children and laugh and play and still learn all at the same time.

“Learning is supported by a peaceful and friendly working atmosphere…and a calm, peaceful mood. There is no mention of rigor, pushing students, or demanding more. Students and teachers don’t wear shoes indoors, and the classroom is a place of peace.”

Absence of Primitive Assessment

The absence of standardized testing was liberating for students, but equally so for teachers. “The ability to learn about a student rather than see what they already knew was really striking.

Unlike in other countries such as Singapore and the US, all subjects play an equally important role. The goal is to give youngsters a broadly-based education, and not to make them learn single subjects well.

Continuous Evaluation

Evaluation will become continuous, guiding and supportive. Grades will not be based on test results alone. Tests are part of learning, but not the heart of it. You can also demonstrate your ability by realising projects or through oral presentations.

Imposing test assessments on young learners may have adverse effects and students learn for the wrong purpose. Looking at the Finnish system, young children learn through games and collaborative efforts and they do not have to worry about examinations until they are 16 years old.

Assessments are primarily used to pinpoint areas where students lack understanding, not to differentiate performance between students. Students get individualised feedback to help them close their gaps in understanding. Assessment, therefore, is a support platform for teachers to give personalised, early intervention to aid the students’ learning.

Test Scores Are Not "Do or Die"

The examination system adopted in most schools in Asia sends out a message that every student needs to toil hard to succeed as their future is entirely dependent on their performance in the myriad examinations they take.

However, in this process, several relevant kinds of knowledge that a student should acquire are brushed aside as they are considered not worth examining academically.

Students also start neglecting a topic or a subject when they are unable to make a connection with it. As a result, they get stuck and struggle to score good marks.

Fun and freedom

We want our teachers to focus on learning, not testing.

We do not, at all, believe in ranking students and ranking schools

How Finland Became The Best?