Reading Promotion in Finland

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1 Reading Promotion in Finland Sari Sulkunen, PhD Department of Languages University of Jyväskylä, Finland

2 Content of the presentation 1. Reading literacy performance of Finnish children, adolescents and adults a short overview based on PIRLS, PISA and PIAAC studies 2. Reading promotion in Finland How reading is taught and supported in Finnish homes, schools and society

3 High average reading performance Finland has been consistently among the top countries in international reading literacy assessments PIRLS 2011 assessing 4th graders reading comprehension PISA 2009 assessing 15-year-olds reading literacy PIAAC 2012 assessing year-olds literacy Results have also shown relatively narrow distribution of performance Some literacy gaps addressed successfully: Socioeconomic gap narrower than average (8 / 14)

4 Average reading scores in PIRLS 2011: countries above the scale centerpoint. Hong Kong Finland Russia Singapore Northern Ireland United States Denmark Taipei Croatia England Ireland Canada Netherlands Czech Republic Sweden Portugal Israel Germany Italy Hungary Slovak Republic Bulgaria New Zealand Slovenia Austria Lithuania Australia Poland France Spain Norway Belgium (French) Romania PIRLS Scale Centerpoint

5 Shanghai-China Korea Finland Hong Kong-China Singapore Canada New Zealand Japan Australia Netherlands Belgium Norway Estonia Switzerland Poland Iceland United States Liechtenstein Sweden Germany Ireland France Chinese Taipei Denmark United Kingdom Hungary OECD average Average reading scores in PISA 2009: countries and economies above the OECD average

6 Average literacy scores in PIAAC 2012 Japan Finland Netherlands Australia Sweden Norway Estonia Flanders (Belgium) Czech Republic Slovak Republic Canada England (UK) Korea Average Denmark Germany United States Austria Northern Ireland (UK) Poland Ireland France Spain Italy

7 Note the weak points Gender difference favoring girls is one of the largest in Finland PIRLS 2011: 22 score points PISA 2009: 55 score points (PISA 2012: 62 score points) Average performance has decreased in PISA since PISA mean scores in reading: all boys girls

8 Factors explaining variation in Finnish students reading performance in PISA 2009 (Sulkunen & Nissinen 2012) Gender Reading engagement Enjoyment of reading Diversity of reading: print and online Time used for reading for enjoyment Learning and reading strategies Socio-economic background ESCS index = economic, social and cultural status Wealth vs. values and appreciation for culture and education Family structure Immigration status Language spoken at home language of the school

9 Reading promotion in Finland

10 Preconditions for success according to the EU/HLG A literate environment Quality of learning and teaching Participation and inclusion

11 Preconditions for success according to the EU/HLG A literate environment Family context plays a central role Books and other materials need to be visible and available Make use of the full diversity of materials A literate environment is one that acknowledges the importance of language and encourages and supports the literacy development of all. The primary objective of a literate environment is to increase literacy motivation and engagement by encouraging and supporting reading and writing for pleasure.

12 Literate environment: family context Early Literacy Activities in PIRLS 2011 Russian Federation Northern Ireland New Zealand Australia Canada Croatia Ireland Italy Slovenia Slovak Republic Spain Hungary Poland Netherlands Czech Republic Bulgaria Germany Romania International Avg. Norway Lithuania France Portugal Austria Sweden Denmark Belgium (French) Finland Singapore Taipei Hong Kong Percentage of students who did often early literacy activities.

13 Literate environment: family context PIRLS 2011: Percentage of 4th grade students with more than 25 children s books at home Finland Sweden Norway Northern Ireland Germany Denmark Czech Republic Ireland Netherlands Austria France Belgium (French) Singapore Spain Slovenia Hungary Russian Federation Poland Portugal International Avg. Slovak Republic Italy Hong Kong Lithuania Croatia Romania

14 Literate environment: supporting families in literacy Book start with maternity pack Welfare clinic for families and children Neuvola Monitoring linguistic development Advice on parenthood Extensive network of public libraries Public libraries in every community, also branch libraries and mobile libraries In 2012, total annual lending ca. 95 million items, number of library visits 52 million and library online services used 56 million times School libraries in a more minor role 20 % of primary schools has no school library

15 Literate environment: diverse reading materials available and used Extensive network of libraries offering diverse reading materials free for all Active readers, e.g. newspaper coverage % From age 12 onwards Including both printed and online newspapers Diversity of reading was Finnish 15-year-olds strength in PISA 2009 study Diversity of print reading clearly above the OECD average (index value 0,45) Diversity of online reading slightly below OECD average (index value -0,04)

16 Preconditions for success Quality of learning and teaching A coherent literacy curriculum Establishing age-specific achievement goals and standards Teacher education, recruitment and professional development Learning to read and write does not just happen, people need to be motivated to learn. Similarly, high quality teaching does not just happen - it requires high quality teachers and instructors.

17 Quality of teaching: literacy curriculum, goals and standards Comprehensive 9-year basic education National curriculum renewed in 10-year cycles wide and modern concept of texts (towards multiliteracy) focus also on supporting reading engagement in instruction: text choice and working methods students individual interests and needs as a basis for educational solutions describes goals and content in general level, but leaves plenty of freedom for schools and teachers describes good performance but no other standards

18 Quality of teaching: literacy curriculum, goals and standards Special education teachers provide support for those who need it Emphasis on early recognition of learning difficulties, early support, different means of support and cooperation with parents Student counselling for all at lower secondary stage Relatively small teaching groups average group size 19 students (PISA 2009) Ministry of education allocates funds for schools to make smaller groups

19 Quality of teaching: teacher education All teachers complete a master s level degree in initial teacher education (ITE) Class teachers major in pedagogical studies, subject teachers in their own subject Practical training included ITE programmes are very popular E.g. in class teachers ITE ca. 10 per cent of applicants get in Autonomous teachers New teachers have full autonomy after graduating Relatively good starting salary Continuous professional development (CPD) has poor resources and is poorly organized

20 PIRLS 2011: Percentage of teachers who spent no time in CPD two years prior to the study United States Austria Hong Kong Romania Australia Croatia Poland Slovenia Singapore Russian Federation Lithuania Portugal Northern Ireland Netherlands Hungary Sweden International Avg. Germany Denmark England Italy Norway Ireland Spain Czech Republic Belgium (French) Slovak Republic France Finland

21 Preconditions for success Participation and inclusion = equity Almost all children participate in formal education for at least 10 years, but nearly one in five reaches the age of 15 without having developed good reading skills. To close the gaps between those who have good literacy skills and those who struggle, Europe needs to place greater emphasis on inclusion: participation coupled with quality, and bolstered by specialised support for everyone who needs it.

22 Participation and inclusion: equity Pedagogical philosophy and practice of the Finnish comprehensive school Equal educational opportunities small between-school variation SES less important than on average (8/14 %) Minimising low achievement relatively good performance of low performers

23 70 Difference between Finnish students' average reading score and the OECD average by percentiles percentile

24 Participation and inclusion: equity Still a lot of work to be done with educational equity: Gender gap in reading literacy is still wide and widening The gap between migrant students and native students is also wide The schools are relatively well equipped with new technology but it is used very little in every-day school work

25 Future challenges Solid educational system aiming at equal opportunities to learn and high quality learning is the strength in Finland Emphasis on students individual needs and engagement in learning and reading Challenge is to update the educational system to this century Motivation to read and engagement in diverse reading into focus Boys interests appreciated Digital gap addressed by integrating ICT into instruction Migrant gap addressed by developing language pedagogy and engaging also parents in literacy

26 Thank you for your attention!

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