Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lessons from Finland on Professional Report Cards

The New York Review of Books this week contains a review by Diane Ravitch entitled “Schools We can Envy”.  In it she reviews “Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland?” by Pasi Sahlberg. 

It turns out that the Finland has one of the highest performing school systems in the world.  That occurs in the context of very high professional standards for teachers and a lack of attention to standardized tests.  From the article:

“Because entry into teaching difficult penetrating is rigorous, teaching is a respected and prestigious profession and Finland. So selective and demanding is the process that virtually every teacher is well-prepared. Sahlberg writes that teachers enter the profession with a sense of moral mission and the only reasons they might leave would be "if they were to lose their professional autonomy" or if "a merit-based compensation policy tied to test scores were imposed".   Meanwhile the United States is now doing to his teachers what Finnish teachers would find professionally reprehensible: judging their worth by the test scores of their students.”

As expected, blaming the teachers is currently popular in the United States but it does not fly in Finland.

And what implications does this have for blaming the doctors? I could easily make the argument that the variance in patient outcomes for a particular physician is probably much less under the control of that physician than the variance in student outcomes for any teacher.

It is time to let the public know that the "report cards" on doctors is another poorly thought out idea from the government and the managed-care cartel and they are probably even less valid than report cards on teachers.  I will provide all of the details in subsequent posts.

George Dawson, MD

Diane Ravitch.  Schools We Can Envy.  New York Review of Books

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