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'Earlier grades could help vulnerable pupils'

'Earlier grades could help vulnerable pupils'

Published: 14 Feb 2013 07:58 GMT+01:00
Updated: 14 Feb 2013 07:58 GMT+01:00

Sweden's finance minister has proposed the introduction of grades in third grade, arguing that it could help children with less-educated parents and help Sweden meet its aims for a modern knowledge-based economy.

Writing in Dagens Nyheter (DN), Anders Borg and his Moderate Party colleague Tomas Tobé, head of the parliamentary committee on education (utbildningsutskottet), argued that the removal of grades for young children had most affected the pupils with less-educated parents.

"Swedish schools will have zero tolerance of pupils not reaching the education goals and Sweden will be one of the countries that face international competition with knowledge, research and high productivity," they wrote.

Citing Swedish children's slipping test results in international comparisons, they credited Education Minister Jan Björklund for tightening the reins.

"Investments in teacher quality and salaries, which will make teaching into a career, in conjunction with earlier grading, more national tests and longer hours spent in school are examples of reform," they wrote.

"These reforms give support in particular to pupils whose families aren't able to compensate for gaps in teaching at school."

They said research supported this thesis, but did not specify which studies.

Borg and Tobé further argued for the importance of grades in giving teachers and principals feedback about which students needed extra help. It could also help identify schools in need of more resources, they said.

Referencing Finland's high scores in international comparisons, they argued that Sweden should adopt its neighbour's system of offering help to students early on.

"In Sweden, about 15 percent of grade-schools were not offering help to pupils who risked not getting adequate grades," they wrote about a School Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) study from 2011.

"The pupils have a right to that help."

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Your comments about this article

14:23 February 14, 2013 by uunbeliever
I didn't realize that the Finance Minister is qualified to propose suggestions regarding teaching and pedagogy. Does he get to tell Surgeons how to do their job as well? Why doesn't he stick to the economy.
18:19 February 14, 2013 by Cornelius Hamelberg
As one of our certified pedagogues and Swedish Language buff told me this morning, after reading Anders Borg & Tomas Tobé's DN debate article), everyone's discussing and chipping in with all kinds of suggestions but none of the big shakers and movers has yet emphasised the importance of having smaller classes....
19:48 February 14, 2013 by johan rebel
There is plenty of research that unequivocally points in the same direction: class size is largely irrelevant. Try Google.

Why the poor little coddled souls in Sweden can't handle grades from first grade is beyond me. I got them, four times a year, and somehow survived.

While I'm at it, why is it that Swedish kids are not mature enough to start school at age 6?
22:36 February 14, 2013 by Cornelius Hamelberg
Irrelevant is a pretty strong word

https://www.google.com/search?q=the+importance+of+smaller+classes&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

By age age seven most kids can sit still
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