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Finnish educational safety net is wide, strong

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n2doc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-28-11 04:22 PM
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Finnish educational safety net is wide, strong
By Erin Richards of the Journal Sentinel
Nov. 26, 2011

Eastern Helsinki - If it weren't tucked into a forest more than 4,000 miles from Wisconsin, Vesala Comprehensive School could stand in for a public school in Milwaukee.

The industrial-looking building from the 1960s serves 365 students, most of whom live in nearby public housing projects. More than half come from single-parent households, and 70% are low-income. Twenty-two percent qualify for special-education services.

About 30% are immigrants or students who speak a first language other than the official languages of Finnish and Swedish.

But unlike in Milwaukee and Wisconsin, where the achievement level of a school can generally be predicted by its ZIP code and student poverty rate, Vesala is part of a national system where the performance gap between the lowest and highest achieving students is one of the narrowest among developed countries, according to a respected international exam.

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