• Sweden edition
 
Sweden tumbles in global schools ranking
Swedish students graduate in spring 2013. File photo: Forslunda gymnasium/Flickr

Sweden tumbles in global schools ranking

Published: 03 Dec 2013 11:26 GMT+01:00

No other country has fallen so abruptly as Sweden in maths over a ten-year span. Overall, not one of the other 32 countries included in the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) survey has seen its students take such a beating in their studies. 

"The bleak picture has become bleaker with the Pisa review that was presented today," Anna Ekström, head of Sweden's National Education Agency (Skolverket), said after she became privy to the results. She had hoped for Sweden to finally buck the trend and stop declining in the ranking. 

Sweden's schools now rank below both the United States and the UK according to the Pisa rankings.

Top of the list this year was Shanghai, whose students placed highest across all three areas. The four Asian Tigers -  Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taipei - were not far behind, with regional neighbours Macao and Japan also performing well. 

Across the surveyed countries, the average score in maths was 494 points this year. Hong Kong, for example, reached 613 points. Sweden's neighour Finland, meanwhile scored 519. In contrast, Swedish 15-year-olds scraped together a mere 478 points, a drop down from a score of 500 points in the last Pisa survey. Back in 2003, the Swedish students scored 510, which meant the drop to today's result testified to Sweden crashing down the points scale in maths over the past ten years. 

The Pisa test also looks at reading comprehension. This year, the OECD average came out at 496. The Swedish teens were not far off with 483 points, but the result looked less perky when compared to the score of 516 the Swedes mustered back in the year 2000. 

Shanghai scored top honor with 570 points. In Europe, the best performers were the Finns with 524 points, but also they slid in the rankings somewhat. Denmark, Norway, Estonia, and Latvia all outperformed Sweden, while Iceland came in at the same level. 

In the natural sciences, finally, the OECD average was calculated at 501 points this wear, with Swedish teens scoring 485.

The Pisa report prompted scathing criticism from the Swedish Teachers’ Union (Lärarförbundet).

"We're losing ground on all fronts and find ourselves in a very precarious position," union head Eva-Lis Sirén said in a statement, adding that Sweden's results had "sunk like a stone".

"We're losing not only those who are having a hard time, but also high-performing students."

Sirén accused politicians of pulling Sweden in the wrong direction when it comes to education policy, arguing increasing differences between Swedish schools is to blame.

"A lack of equality is the price Sweden has had to pay as a result of free school choice. That's a price we can never accept," she said.

The union head was also critical of recent reforms, claiming they left teachers overwhelmed with administrative tasks. She expressed fears that the teachinng profession had "lost its status" at a time when tens of thousands of new teachers need to be recruited.

"If we're concerned about the results today, we have every reason to be worried about 2020," Síren said.

Tobias Krantz, head of education policy issues for the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv) and a former Minister for Higher Education and Research, called the Pisa report "very concerning".

"There is a lot of global competition and it's very concerning that we're falling so far in maths, but also in other subjects," he told the TT news agency.

Krantz warned that the results could be a precursor to higher unemployment.

"When companies decide where they should place their operations, they want to know there will be competent employees and if knowledge in schools is falling, Sweden will be less attractive for important investments," he added. 

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
UN criticises Sweden's 'prison' children
The UN says Sweden's young offenders should spend less time alone. Photo: TT

UN criticises Sweden's 'prison' children

The way Sweden treats children living in detention centres has been strongly criticised by the United Nations Committee against Torture, which also suggested some young offenders had experienced violence by police officers. READ  

Sweden economy shows unexpected growth
Sweden's economy is growing slowly. Photo: Shutterstock

Sweden economy shows unexpected growth

Sweden's economy expanded slightly more than expected in the third quarter of the year, according to statistics published on Friday. READ  

Russians intercept Sweden navy 'love texts'
Staff on HMS Vinga and HMS Ulvön are linked to the scandal. Photo: Flickr/V-P Kivimäki

Russians intercept Sweden navy 'love texts'

Private messages sent between staff on two Swedish navy boats who were having an affair have been published in Russia, after a group of radio geeks intercepted the signal used to transmit the texts. READ  

Row over line-up at Sweden's biggest festival
Robbie Williams will headline Sweden's biggest music festival in 2015. Photo: TT

Row over line-up at Sweden's biggest festival

This week Robbie Williams was announced as the headline act at Bråvalla - one of the largest music events in Scandinavia. But the British star has proved a controversial choice for the three day festival in southern Sweden's Norrköpping, which takes place in June 2015. READ  

Swedish shoppers embrace 'Black Friday'
The Swedish Trade Federation said that three times as many companies in Sweden were staging Black Friday deals in 2014 compared to last year. Photo: AP/The Canadian Press/Justin Tang

Swedish shoppers embrace 'Black Friday'

More companies in Sweden are rolling out the imported American shopping phenomenon known as 'Black Friday' by slashing prices for post-Thanksgiving purchases. READ  

Skanska quits South America over corruption
File Photo: Gorm Kallestad/TT

Skanska quits South America over corruption

Swedish engineering giant Skanska has decided to pull out of the South American market after being dragged into a corruption scandal involving the Brazilian oil major Petrobras. READ  

Jobs and immigration cost Moderates election
Former Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt exits the stage after the 2014 election loss. Photo: TT

Jobs and immigration cost Moderates election

Sweden's Moderate Party slumped at the polls on election day as it lost the jobs, welfare and immigration debate, according to the party's post election analysis. READ  

Swedes cook up win at culinary world cup
Chefs at work:Shutterstock

Swedes cook up win at culinary world cup

Sweden claimed two gold and two silver medals at the culinary world cup in Luxembourg this week, which features over 100 teams from around the world competing for gastronomic greatness. READ  

The Local Recipes
How to make Swedish potato and fish gratin
Traditional Swedish potato and fish casserole. Photo: Magnus Lundquist/Flickr

How to make Swedish potato and fish gratin

Feeling the need for some comfort food during the cold weather? The dish Swedes call Janssons frestelse is popular during the winter and is often found on the Christmas smorgasbord. Food writer John Duxbury shares his recipe with The Local... READ  

More rats creep into Sweden's cities
Rats like these are common in Stockholm. Photo: TT

More rats creep into Sweden's cities

Sweden is experiencing a rapid increase in its rat population according to the country's biggest pest control company, which says that the growing trend for outdoor food stalls is partly to blame. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Lifestyle
What's On: November 27th - December 4th
Lifestyle
How to make Swedish potato and fish gratin
National
Would you use this app to find a job?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's biggest music festival, Bråvalla
Lifestyle
Five magical Swedish winter markets
Blog updates

28 November

St Andrew’s Day and the Way Forward for Scotland (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Sunday is St. Andrew’s Day – Scotland’s national day. It was great to be in Edinburgh this..." READ »

 

28 November

Editor’s blog, November 28th (The Local Sweden) »

"Happy Thanksgiving to our American readers and warm wishes to the rest of you lucky subscribers. We..." READ »

 
 
 
Lifestyle
Top ten Swedish Christmas presents
Sponsored Article
SIS: the thinking behind globalised learning
Imagebank Sweden
Society
Decorating your home for Swedish Christmas
Lifestyle
VIDEO: How to stay stylish in Sweden in November
Gallery
People-watching: November 26th
Sponsored Article
How to get your own office anywhere in the world
National
'I'm a Swedish 'expat' in my home country'
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Family life in Stockholm
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's 2015 Eurovision hopefuls
Gallery
Property of the week: Rosengården
National
'Racist' Black Pete party scrapped in Sweden
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Christmas gifts through the years
Lifestyle
'I'm spreading Japan's 'cute' culture in Sweden'
National
Ebola: Sweden's leading expert speaks
National
Why this Swedish rabbi is facing death threats
National
Fears up to 300 Swedes fighting with Isis
Lifestyle
How to make Swedish mulled wine
Gallery
People-watching: November 22nd - 23rd
Society
What's on in Sweden: November 20th to 27th
National
How to boost your career in Skåne, Sweden's south
Lifestyle
How an Umeå museum is rewriting Swedish history
National
Timeline: Julian Assange sex allegations
Lifestyle
Five unique backpacker hostels in Stockholm
National
Bones show off Sweden's history
National
What new word are Swedes voting on?
National
Why African Swedes are angry about Santa's helper
National
Pine, tar, and tinder: flavours from the north
Gallery
Selfies, solidarity and Hillary Clinton: Stefan Löfven on tour
Gallery
People-watching: November 19th
Society
Why are international professionals leaving Sweden?
Business & Money
Meet the Swedes who made suits for The Hunger Games
Technology
'I'm among the first Swedes with a microchip'
National
What is Sweden doing about bird flu?
Gallery
Property of the week: Eriksberg
National
Vecka45: Sweden's most innovative week
Gallery
In Pictures: The clubs and loves of Sweden's Sven-Göran Eriksson
Society
What's On in Sweden: November 13th to 20th
Gallery
People-watching: November 16th
National
Driving (expats) home for Christmas?
Lifestyle
Make your own Swedish pea soup
Politics
"Totally unacceptable": Defence Minister on Stockholm submarine
Sponsored Article
The best options for oversea transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

844
jobs available
Swedish Down Town
Consulting & Productions

We are an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish authorities, Swedish language practice, and general communications.
Call 0731 004 781 or visit:
swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business. If you want to stop, we can help.
Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
aa-europe.org/sweden
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Counselling and Psychotherapy in English
Sometimes living in another culture can cause stress, confusion and feelings of sadness and loneliness. Talking to a professional psychotherapist/counsellor might help you. I am a UKCP Reg. psychotherapist. My practice is in Södermalm, Stockholm.
Contact me to discuss your options