There has been much publicity in recent years about how for more than a decade, Finnish students have excelled in the international comparisons called the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), exams given each three years in reading, math, and science to samples of 15-year-olds globally. In the current issue of the New Republic, Samuel E. Abrams, a visiting scholar at Teachers College, explains what Finland did to turn around its education system, starting in the 1970's:Read the whole thing, but the basic idea is this:Finland’s schools weren’t always so successful. In the 1960s, they were middling at best. In 1971, a government commission concluded that, poor as the nation was in natural resources, it had to modernize its economy and could only do so by first improving its schools. To that end, the government agreed to reduce class size, boost teacher pay, and require that, by 1979, all teachers complete a rigorous master’s program.They also banned all standardized testing, as they figured out this takes too much time and too much money out of learning; and now they only give standardized exams to statistical samples of students to diagnose and assess school progress.According to Abrams, the "only point at which all Finnish students take standardized exams is as high school seniors if they wish to go to university." The Finns "trust teachers" and allow them to "design their own courses, using a national curriculum as a guide."
If you want to duplicate Finland's success in education, take everything Christie-Rhee-Bradford-Gates-Bloomberg-Duncan-etc want to do in our schools, and do exactly the opposite.