Monday, 11 July 2011

PISA Under Examination: Hannu Simola's Keynote Speech

Hannu Simola gave a keynote speech entitled, "Education policy and contingency: Belief, status, and trust behind the Finnish PISA miracle."

Here are the notes from the speech:

Comparative studies in education are now more popular than ever, thanks to PISA. Novoa and Yariv-Marshal (2003) called them "soft comparisons."

Contingency as uncertainty:
  • "age of contingency"
  • double meaning of contingency
  • "the art of playing"
  • Hautamaki (2008) in reference to Finland's performance PISA 2006: "chance encounter, a lucky constellation"
  • the concept of contingency -- does it explain Finland in PISA?
  1. high belief in schooling
  2. teaching respected
  3. comprehensive school trusted
  • why do these three beliefs exist?
  • there is little research comparing Finnish education to other Nordic countries
Hypothesis for Finland's success in PISA -- High belief in schooling:
  • "late bloomer"
  • e.g. compulsory education
  • e.g. expansion of schooling
  • e.g. late construction of the Welfare State
  • e.g. late modernization of the occupational structure
  • e.g. most recently left agrarian lifestyle, even compared to Nordic countries
  • the "high belief" in schooling came from these examples
  • they happened at the same time -- a collective experience
Hypothesis for Finland's success in PISA -- High status of comprehensive school teachers
  • teaching popular, especially in the primary years
  • an accepted profession for upper social strata
  • 10% acceptance rate to teacher training programs
  • requirement of MA
Hypothesis for Finland's success in PISA -- Requirement for teachers to have an MA coincided with comprehensive school reform
  • 1971 Act -- primary school teaching courses moved to universities
  • MA model not proposed by the government
  • 1977 -- teaching degrees now MA level
  • this coincides with the comprehensive school reforms -- the MA model was accepted because of this
Hypothesis for Finland's success in PISA -- High trust in comprehensive school
  • 1990s -- era of trust officially began
  • prescribed teaching, curriculum, school inspectorate all abandoned
  • the reforms of the 1990s -- restructuring of the steering of education
  • recession 1991-1993 -- budget cuts in education/schooling strengthened the judicial position of the municipalities
  • Finland's school system one of the most decentralized in Europe
  • competing coalitions of the national QAE of compulsory schooling, e.g. Ministry of Education and Finnish National Board of Education
  • Finnish National Board of Education: "We have no control over anything. This is our biggest weakness."
Hypothesis for Finland's success in PISA: The recession forced a move to evaluation-based goal steering
  • ironically created the trust in the system
Contingency as freedom:
  • different levels of conjunction -- changes happened all at once
  • coinciding of teacher training and comprehensive school reforms
  • concurrent municipal control and comprehensive school governance
  • this gave freedom for the policy actors
  • "constructive effects of human action: consequences that may be sweeping and far reaching but rarely foreseeable or suspected." - Dahler-Larsen (2007)
  • focus on how schools change reforms rather than how reforms change schools

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