See Time magazine:
An article in the Wall St. Journal reports that in Finland, teachers are expected to be more entrepreneurial, using curricular standards as a starting point for innovative teaching. Contrast that with the number of American schools feeling the pressure of NCLB and responding with scripted lessons that ignore differences among students and teachers. Finland also requires a master's degree for teachers and has 40 applicants per position.
Wall St. Journal article:
Web Link [online_wsj_com]
For those who take the time to read the WSJ article, I'm sure someone will note that they get these results with less spending per pupil. However, consider how much of our spending per pupil is actually spent on health insurance for school personnel, which would not be necessary there. The article also notes that they seem to have a lot fewer extracurricular activities.