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Dornan Presentation - NC State Board of Education

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Learning from Other Countries
A Broad Summary of What Delegations of North
Carolinians Have Learned from Examining
Education in 10 Other Countries, and Implications
for North Carolina Policymakers
The “Learning From” Series was co-sponsored by the
Public School Forum and the Center for International
Understanding
Countries Studies in the “Learning From” Series:
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China
Denmark
Finland
Great Britain
India
Ireland
Japan
The Netherlands
Singapore
South Korea
Motivation/Goals for the “Learning From” Series…
To see what educationally high-performing
countries are doing and to bring home best
practices that could be adapted to North
Carolina’s educational system.
Originally, the goal was to examine best
practices; in recent years, the goal was
expanded to see how education has been a part
of some countries becoming economic leaders.
What are the major lessons we’ve learned??
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Economic development and educational policy are intertwined.
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There is an amazing amount of public and political consensus around
educational direction and policy.
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Central to their strategy is a belief in building a high-quality teaching
workforce.
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They invest in attracting the “best and brightest” in to education.
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There is a commitment to having all young people learn.
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Testing is used for advancing learning, not “score keeping” and labeling
schools and teachers.
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Curriculum expectations focus on application of knowledge, not
memorization.
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Occupational / technical learning is valued.
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Finally, none of the top-performers got there through finding a “silver
bullet”; they took decades to build their educational systems.
LET’S EXAMINE THESE
LESSONS MORE CLOSELY
Lesson One…
Education & Economic Development are Intertwined
Singapore’s Example: a Three-Part Strategy
◦ “Survival” phase.
в—¦ Focus on STEM phase.
в—¦ Currently focusing on higher-order thinking
skills/biotech, etc.
Finland: from Agriculture to High Tech
в—¦ Commitment to highly-trained teachers.
в—¦ Movement to equitable foundation of learning for all.
в—¦ A highly individualized focus on students with an array of
options.
Lesson Two…
An Amazing Consensus Around the Importance of Education
Mantras…
“Singapore is only a speck of land in the ocean; the only resources
we have are our people and our minds.”
“Finland has only its forests and its people.”
Education and developing an educated populace is seen as a
matter of urgency, the key to economic survival and social
welfare.
Lesson Three…
Central to their strategy is a commitment to building a highquality teaching workforce.
Common to top-performing countries is:
в—¦ Recruiting teachers from the upper 20% of high school graduates.
в—¦ Training them in respected universities with a strong focus on
practice and research.
в—¦ Continuing a focus on professional development once teachers are
on the job.
Lesson Four…
They Invest in Building a High-Quality Workforce
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Singapore and Finland pay all college costs (tuition,
room, board, etc.) for education majors.
Singapore pays education majors 60% of a beginning
teacher’s salary while attending college.
Salaries are benchmarked to other white-collar
professions.
Beyond pay, working conditions are far different than
those in the U.S. – most strikingly the number of hours
of direct instruction per day.
Lesson Five…
Top Performing Countries Are
Committed to the Success of All
Young People
The Foundation of Finland’s Success:
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Government subsidized daycare beginning at 8
months of age and continuing through age 6.
Run by the health system, the staffing ratio is 1
teacher and 2 full-time nurses for 12 youngsters 8
months of age through age 3; the same number of
professionals for youngsters from 4-6 applies, but
the number of youngsters increases to 20.
Lesson Five …
The Foundation of Finland’s Success (continued):
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At age 6, youngsters attend preschool sessions – but there
are not formal lessons in reading or math; the focus is on
socialization, working in groups, preparing for school.
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Formal meetings occur with parents at ages 2 and 5;
health/mental welfare/learning problems are diagnosed.
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Finland believes in early intervention (they consider it
“prevention”). The number of students diagnosed with
special needs is high at age 7 and declines over time –
opposite of the trend in the U.S.
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Prevention / intervention continues throughout the
process – a high school with less than 500 students had
one full time psychologist, one full time nurse and one full
time social worker.
Lesson Six…
Testing for Learning, Not for “Score Keeping”
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Top-performing schools typically have two “high-stakes” tests – one
at the end of middle school that is a factor in determining what
type of high school a student attends and one at the end of high
school which determines whether a student gets to attend college
and where.
High performing countries place the consequences for test scores
on students, not on schools & teachers.
High performing counties use testing data for diagnostic purposes
to improve individual student performance, not for ranking
teachers and merit pay.
Lesson Six…
Testing for Learning, Not for “Score Keeping” (continued)
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Assessments in high performing countries use essays, in some cases
group problem solving – the focus is on application of knowledge,
not memorization.
In Finland, assessment of learning is frequently made in classrooms
for diagnostic purposes, but only matriculation test scores are
released publically.
Lesson Seven…
Curriculum Expectations Are Focused on Application
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High performing countries vary widely on this, but there are two
common denominators – their national curriculum standards are
far less detailed (and shorter) than those typically used by U.S.
states and they are focused on application, not coverage of
material.
They also vary on “top-down” control. In Japan, teachers
nationwide are largely teaching the same thing at the same time; in
Finland, local municipalities (ie. school districts) have great flexibility.
Regardless of approach, the focus is on problem solving and
analysis. Instead of asking when the first Crusade occurred, other
countries would have an essay question asking something along the
lines of “how did the crusades contribute to today’s tensions in the
Middle East.”
Lesson Eight…
The United States is Almost Alone in Not Separating
Academic & Occupational High Schools
Wherever one looks, high schools in countries with strong economies
(ie. Germany, Scandinavian countries, Japan, Singapore, etc.) are
separated into academic (preparing for college) and
occupational/technical (preparing for the world of work).
Lesson Eight…
The United States is Almost Alone in Not Separating
Academic & Occupational High Schools
Things to Consider:
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Most countries allow movement between occupational and academic if
students change their minds.
Most countries invest in academic counseling to a degree that does not
exist in most NC middle and high schools (German counseling centers;
Finland’s 2 hour guarantee of middle school counseling, etc.).
This ties back to “Lesson One” (integration of education and economic
development).
The schools are anything but glorified woodshops (ie. Japan’s maritime
schools; Denmark’s school of culinary arts & hotel management, robotics,
etc.).
Students attending occupational / technical schools are not viewed as
“second class” citizens.
Lesson Nine…
High Performing Countries Didn’t Get There
Because They Discovered “A Silver Bullet”
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Singapore began with a vision in the 1950;s that began to pay real
dividends in the 1990’s.
Finland’s progression to high-performing began in 1973 with the
decision to require MA’s of all teachers. Their efforts didn’t bear
fruit until the release of the PISA tests in 2002.
India’s investments in elite colleges have enabled them to “leapfrog”
normal economic progression from agricultural to low-wage
manufacturing to knowledge work. Their investment (especially in
STEM-related Institutes) began in the fifties and has now positioned
the country as a high tech / high knowledge work center.
The Basic Elements of
High Performing Countries
Intertwined Educational & Economic Development Planning
п‚— Concerted Drive to Build a High-Quality Educational
Workforce
п‚— Curriculums Focused on Application (ie. using/doing)
п‚— Commitment to Educating All
п‚— Valuing Occupational/Technical Education
п‚— Staying the Course
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Implications for Policymakers:
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It all beings with a vision & a consensus (and possibly urgency). Is
having 360,000 unemployed and one-in-four children in poverty
enough to spark it?
It won’t happen with a focus on one thing (ie. new evaluation
systems without new capacity building training programs; new
curriculum expectations and tests without college schools of
education and staff development aligned with them).
Loosening certification standards as opposed to becoming more
demanding and selective is not going to result in a high-quality
workforce.
Political and corporate-driven school reform is very different
from benchmarking against the best practices in the world and
enabling educators to create a stronger system of schools.
Shifts in focus occurring in two and four year cycles (ie.
corresponding to elections) is quite the opposite of the 20-40
year efforts that have led countries like Singapore and Finland to
be top-performers.
Learning from Other Countries
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