More pupils fail to make the grade

A record number of teenagers has failed to meet the entry requirements for upper secondary school. Fewer pupils than at any time in the past ten years had good enough grades.

More pupils fail to make the grade

With autumn term starting soon at Sweden’s upper secondary (gymnasium) schools, 11.4 percent of 16-year-olds do not have a place in mainstream programmes, due to failure in Maths, Swedish or English courses.

According to preliminary statistics from the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket), this is the highest proportion of failures since the current assessment system was introduced ten years ago.

Last year, 10.5 percent of 16-year olds did not have the required grades. This year, the largest number of failures was in maths, with 8.5 percent not passing. For English, this figure was 7.3 percent, for Swedish it was 4.7 percent and for Swedish as a second language it was 24.1 percent.

“It is unacceptable that an increasing number of youngsters are being deprived of the opportunity to go to upper secondary school. It it a worrying, and serious, situation,” said the agency’s director general, Per Thullberg.

Thullberg put forward a number of possible explanations for the rise. Larger year groups in this year’s batch of 16-year-olds was one explanation, he said. This had led to a larger number of pupils per teacher. Another explanation was that the agency has rapped some schools over the past year for being too generous when marking some pupils’ coursework.

“This could mean that the picture we have has become more fair,” Thullberg said.

Pupils who do not get sufficiently high marks to enter mainstream programmes at upper secondary school are put on individual programmes.