What can Finnish teachers tell us?

Finnish education looms large in international comparisons. Since 2000, students in this northern European nation of just 5.5 million have performed at or near the top of the rankings in science, math and reading, prompting many researchers and policy wonks in the U.S. and elsewhere to ask what the Finns are doing right.

Today, CPE released a report that adds to our insights into the Finnish education system – this time by examining how teachers in our respective countries see their profession. Using data from the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), CPE research analyst, Annie Hemphill, compared survey results from teachers in Finland, the U.S. and to the international average. The study, How teachers in the U.S. and Finland see their jobs, shows more similarities than we were expecting. For example, teachers in both of our countries report having formal training in about the same proportion. Yet the differences say a lot about how teachers are treated. Finnish teachers report having more say in school-level policies and the conduct of their own classrooms. They work fewer hours than their American peers, yet spend a higher proportion of that time with students. Probably most revealing, Finnish teachers are far more likely to report “feeling valued by society.”

In addition to reading our report, you can learn more by registering for a July 25 one-hour webinar, Developing Teacher Capacity, sponsored by the Organization of Economic Coordination and Development (OECD), which administers the international PISA assessment of 15-year-olds, in collaboration with six national education associations, including NSBA. In the webinar, we will share basic research findings and numerous examples of practical applications of these concepts in schools both here and abroad. Register here.