Notes on a Remarkable Finding from Finland

I recently came across a paper by Ursina Schaede and Ville Mankki that contains a fascinating empirical finding with major implications for the way in which we think about meritocracy. The paper examines the long run effects on students of a change in the manner in which their teachers were selected into a graduate program. Finland is well known for having an extremely effective school system, in part because primary teacher education has been “exclusively taught as a research-oriented, five year masters’ degree at universities” since the 1970s. These programs are in very high demand among applicants, with acceptance rates of about 10 percent. The admissions process has a first stage based largely on scores on a high school matriculation exam, followed by a second stage involving interviews and the evaluation of live teaching. Candidates are ranked again at the end of the process, and those at the top are taken until capacity is filled.

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