From personal experience I can say that Finnish education is absolutely top of the line. I've had the chance to experience both US and Finnish educational systems. I was born and raised in Finland until age 19 and went to public schools there. I have a high school diploma from Finland and bachelor's degree from USA. What really sets the Finnish system apart from USA? High school in Finland was much harder than any college class I have ever taken in the USA. Having a 4.0 grade point average in high school was an impossible goal to achieve. Here I was able to graduate from college summa cum laude with a GPA of 3.97 - and it was not too difficult. Now I'm studying for master's degree. At college I far outperformed most American-born students in just about any academic subject. How can that be? English is not even my native language. What I have observed is that in the USA students feel entitled to good grades without really doing the work. In Finland, we had no mercy grades. We got the grade we truly deserved. Period. Excellent work ethic and diligence are lacking among many students in the United States and laziness is rampant in classrooms. Students lack motivation to excel and are content being just average (Horrifying thought to even think of!). In Finland, we are expected to perform to the best of our ability regardless of outcome. In Finnish high schools the brainiest students are really admired. In the USA, geeks are made fun of (not always, of course). In Finland, teaching is truly a very respected profession. I surely would love to be a teacher in Finland but truthfully, I'm not smart enough to be accepted to college there, not even to study English in the University of Finland (already tried). Overall, I think it is not that Finns are any smarter than Americans. It is the attitude about school that is so very different between the two countries. As long as Americans fail to respect and love education, they will continue finding themselves struggling academically.