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    Onderwijskrant Vlaanderen
    Vernieuwen: ja, maar in continuïteit!
    20-07-2014
    Klik hier om een link te hebben waarmee u dit artikel later terug kunt lezen.Onderwijs. Andere oorzaken van Finlands succes voor PISA 2000 dan de voorgestelde

    Prof. Tim Oates: andere oorzaken van Finlands succes voor PISA-2000 dan de  vooropgestelde    

    What we can learn  from Finland? (Uit: The ‘qualifications  sledgehammer’: why assessment- led reform has dominated the education landscape).

    Prof. Oates vraagt zich af of  zijn de hoge Finse PISA-scores in de late jaren negentig en begin deze eeuw wel een gevolg zijn van de meestal geformuleerde succeskenmerken:  de grote autonomie van de leraars, afschaffen van inspectie en niveaucontrole van de overheid …. Zijn/waren die successen in de late jaren negentig niet vooral een gevolg van de toestand vóór de grote hervorming: het opleggen van een gestructureerd nationaal curriculum en van door de staat goedgekeurde handboeken en hoog gekwalificeerde leermiddelen (handboeken e.d.),  controle van leerresultaten en niveau o.m. door strenge nationale maturiteitstest op einde secundair onderwijs, …?  Het zijn volgens Oates niet de hervormingen en kenmerken  die Pasi Sahlberg en vele anderen beklemtonen (b.v. grote autonomie van de leraars, geen niveaucontrole door de staat en inspectie …) die de  oorzaak waren van de hoge PISA-scores rond 2000.

    Vooraf merkt prof. Tim Oates op dat er een en ander af te dingen valt van de internationale scores  van Finland.  Hij schrijft: “It is worth noting that Finland fell out of the top ten countries in mathematics in PISA 2012, confirming  a  decline  since  2006  (OECD   2013).  Similarly,  while   Finland  came  in   eighth  place  in  mathematics  in TIMSS   2011,  it  was  also  revealed  that   Finnish  seventh  graders  had  fallen radically  since TIMSS 1999 (IEA 2012, p. 56). So at the same time as the ‘miracle’ was discovered, the country’s pupils were  beginning to slip. This further suggests that Finland’s ascendancy is far more complicated than what than what  many commentators suggest.” NvdR: Oates vermeldt niet eens dat volgens de meer curriculum gebaseerde evaluatiestudies van de universiteit van Helsinki in 2010 & 2012 de Finse 15-jarigen vrij zwak presteren voor de basisvakken en dat er ook een sterke achteruitgang is in vergelijking met jaren geleden.

    Prof. Oates: “It is worth considering systems with alternative approaches to the lopsided focus  on assessment and qualifications. Finland is an important example, but not for the factors commonly assumed to be in operation there. Much of the discussion about the Finnish ‘education miracle’, rising from a low achiever to one of the top performers in the world, has focused on the degree of autonomy enjoyed by  Finnish  schools.  Low levels  of  inspection  and  the  absence  of high-stakes national tests in primary- and lower-secondary education have been heralded by  British educationalists as proof that school autonomy with low accountability is the key to ensuring high quality.

    But this overlooks three vital features of the Finnish system: (1) the nature of the system in the 1970s and 1980s, when Finland dramatically transformed its education system; (2) the locus of control that continues to exist in the Finnish system; and (3) the importance of the rigorous matriculation examinations at the end of upper-secondary schooling. Schools may appear more autonomous than schools in England, but the system demonstrably is not free of restriction and high-stakes assessment.

    Finland leapt to international attention following its performance in PISA 2000, and  prominent   commentators  have  focused  on elements  of  the  current  Finnish system in explaining the country’s educational success (e.g. Hancock 2011; Partanen 2011; Guardian 2014). But this is not a sufficient approach. As argued in the 2010 English curriculum review, in order to understand the underlying reasons behind high-achieving countries’ success, one has to analyse the arrangements in place prior to and during the period of improvement. Merely looking at the system as it is now, when it already has achieved high performance, is insufficient to unveil causation (Oates 2010).

    From the late 1990s to the present day, Finland’s education system has been characterised by   relatively  high  school  autonomy,  with low levels of  central inspection  and  low  levels  of  external   testing   (Sahlberg   2011).  The  system is also noteworthy for its ‘front-end restriction’, associated with a highly selective, and long duration, teaching training. This contrasts with systems focusing on  ‘back-end   restriction’,  characterised  by  a  strong  emphasis  on inspection  and  target-based accountability arrangements. A key question is whether the current characteristics of the system were also present  when   Finland’s  transformation  from  a relatively  low-performing   to  a   high-performing  country  occurred.  The historical  record  suggests  that  the answer is a resounding ‘no’.  A historical analysis of the system’s characteristics and  the  nature  of  policy   preceding  and  during  the  transformation  suggests  that high control from the centre – including high-intensity inspections, state-approved textbooks, and national benchmark tests – played an important role.

    Indeed,  key   Finnish  educational  analysts,  such  as  Hautamäki  (2014), emphasise that the system between 1972 and 1985 was strongly state controlled,  with all teachers having to go through extensive in-service training in which  the  mandatory  content  was  delivered.  At  the  same  time,   school  inspections  were  extensive,  and  all  teaching  material had  to be  approved  to  ensure   that it was aligned with a very detailed, national curriculum, spanning over 600  pages. While there were no national assessments in any subject in compulsory education, the detailed curriculum, intensive in-service teacher training, and standardised tests in some school subjects – which were used by educational researchers – ensured comparability of school marks.

     Thus,  there  were  two  major phases  in  the development  of  Finland’s contemporary  education   system.  The  first  phase  involved  the  enactment  of fundamental reform from 1968 onwards, which created a fully comprehensive  system  and  the  foundation  that  gave  rise  to   high  performance  in  the  late 1990s. At this time, implementation at the school level was ensured by heavy centralised state involvement.

    The second phase, on the other hand, involved a strategic move towards more school autonomy and low levels of centralised inspections. In the decentralising spirit of the late 1980s, the office responsible for approving textbooks was closed in 1990. In my own interviews with current Finnish teachers and educationalists,  they  emphasise high-quality  teachers  and high-quality  materials  as  the  key  ingredient of Finnish success. And, of course, it is important to note that the  rigorous matriculation exams at the end of upper-secondary school remain a  key part of the system.

    It is clear that most international commentators have inaccurately focused on the second phase, frequently associating the current system’s characteristics with the previous  period  of   transformation  and  substantial  improvement   – during  which  arrangements  were  very   different.  The  first  phase  ends  to  be ignored outside Finland, and the highly centralised change strategy may indeed be the ‘inconvenient truth’, at odds with the oft-desired and appealing narrative regarding autonomy (Alexander 2012; Benton 2014).

    Once the system had been established, central control was relaxed, but it is vital to recognise that the quality criteria established in the first phase were vital for the transformation – and continue to be the basis of contemporary system performance.   One of  the  factors  existing  in both phases  is   the  high-quality teacher   training,  which  is highly  selective.  All teachers are expected to have master’s degrees, with research and evaluation playing an integral role in the training curriculum. With   such   demanding  criteria  and  content,  teacher  training  can certainly be characterised as a key control mechanism in the system. It ensures that all teacher practice embodies the values and practices of the system. This ‘front end’ type of control explains the lack of need for ‘back end’ type of control in the form of a strong inspection system and national assessment, which characterise the English system.

    While it  is  important  to  acknowledge  the  problems  involved  in drawing causal conclusions from narratives of this type – since there could be other, unrecognised changes, not necessarily in education, contributing to Finland’s rise – it is still important to have an accurate picture of what policies the country pursued during its transformative stage. Clearly, at the very least, the reasons behind Finland’s improvements are not as clear-cut as commonly assumed in the debate.

    The first lesson from Finland is that ideas about issues such as equity and ability played a vital role in the transformation of its system. The social and political discussion prior to the adoption of fully comprehensive compulsory education  was important  for  the  concerted  and coherent   implementation  of the new system, and for its continued success. Rather than focusing too much on assessment and qualifications as drivers for change, the Finnish discussion  concentrated on ensuring coherence of all elements in the proposed system (in  line with Schmidt’s notion of ‘curriculum coherence’). In fact, the structure and  assessment approaches of the main high-stakes matriculation examinations at  the end of upper-secondary education were pretty much left alone, continuing  in much the same form as it had for about a century. The examinations have not  remained static, but changes have reflected changes in the curriculum, rather  than vice versa. Thus, curriculum drove assessment and qualifications – which  contrasts sharply with the English situation.

    The  second  lesson  from  Finland  is  consequently  that  coherence  is  vitally important.  In  the   first   phase of  transformation,  this was  ensured  via  strong  central control. Once the new system was established, this control was replaced  by the ‘front end’ restriction in the form of a highly selective teacher training that became the bedrock for ensuring continued coherence between the different  elements of the system.

     

     


    20-07-2014 om 22:18 geschreven door Raf Feys  

    0 1 2 3 4 5 - Gemiddelde waardering: 0/5 - (0 Stemmen)
    Tags:Finland, PISA
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