A recent photo slideshow published by Business Insider featured 26 facts about the school system in Finland.

Finland has one of the best public education systems in the world, so other countries would do well to study the educational model that Finland offers.

Some of the significant points are summarized below for easy reference.

  • Finnish children don’t start school until they are 7.
  • They rarely take exams or do homework until they are well into their teens.
  • The children are not measured at all for the first six years of their education.
  • There is only one mandatory standardized test in Finland, taken when children are 16.
  • All children, clever or not, are taught in the same classrooms.
  • Finland spends around 30 percent less per student than the United States.
  • 30 percent of children receive extra help during their first nine years of school.
  • 66 percent of students go to college. The highest rate in Europe.
  • The difference between weakest and strongest students is the smallest in the World.
  • Science classes are capped at 16 students so that they may perform practical experiments every class.
  • 93 percent of Finns graduate from high school — 17.5 percent higher than the US where 75.5% graduate from high school.
  • 43 percent of Finnish high-school students go to vocational schools.
  • Elementary school students get 75 minutes of recess a day in Finnish versus an average of 27 minutes in the US.
  • Teachers only spend 4 hours a day in the classroom, and take 2 hours a week for “professional development”.
  • Finland has the same amount of teachers as New York City, but far fewer students — 600,000 students compared to 1.1 million in NYC.
  • The school system is 100% state funded.
  • All teachers in Finland must have a masters degree, which is fully subsidized.
  • The national curriculum is only broad guidelines.
  • Teachers are selected from the top 10% of graduates.
  • In 2010, 6,600 applicants vied for 660 primary school training slots.
  • The average starting salary for a Finnish teacher was $29,000 in 2008 — Compared with $36,000 in the United States.
  • However, high school teachers with 15 years of experience make 102 percent of what other college graduates make. In the US, high school teachers with 15 years of experience make 62% of what other college graduates make.
  • There is no merit pay for teachers.
  • Teachers are given the same status as doctors and lawyers.
  • In an international standardized measurement in 2001, Finnish children came top or very close to the top for science, reading and mathematics. It’s consistently come top or very near every time since.
  • And despite the differences between Finland and the US, it easily beats countries with a similar demographic. Neighbor Norway, of a similar size and featuring a similar homogeneous culture, follows the same same strategies as the USA and achieves similar rankings in international studies.
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