New database ranks Sweden’s high schools

Swedish students applying for admittance to the country’s high schools now have another tool to help them compare various schools following the launch on Friday of a new database.

New database ranks Sweden's high schools

The schools listing was created by the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR) and ranks a number of factors, including on-time graduation rates, average grades for graduates, and the number of students who meet requirements for continuing on to higher education.

The database includes an index based on how a given school’s results compare to the national average.

“Comparing results with others can lead to both analysis and improvement,” said SALAR head Håkan Sörman in a statement.

The database is a part of SALAR’s Öppna jämförelser (‘Open comparisons’) project, which attempts to help taxpayers better assess the results of local government spending.

But the information may also be used by students to get more information about prospective schools and programmes, helping them decide to which schools they eventually apply.

Following nine years of compulsory education, students in Sweden have the option of continuing in 3-year upper secondary school programmes (gymnasium).

The programmes are designed for students aged 16- to 20-years-old, and include a choice from 17 different specialized subjects, ranging from journalism and business to arts and construction.

In general, students apply to high schools in their municipality, with admissions based on the marks a student earns in compulsory school.

Because certain programmes are so popular, the de facto admissions requirements can vary a great deal from one school or subject to another. Thus students often apply to several programmes, hoping their grades are high enough to gain admission to their first choice of high school.

Sweden’s National Agency for Education (Skolverket) also has a special website which offers prospective students a wealth of information about the country’s high schools.

Sörman admits, however, that the new database doesn’t take into account several other factors which could affect the statistics such as the socio-economic background of the students or differences in the finances and approach between Sweden’s different municipalities.

“If you have, like in Malmö and Södertälje, many students who come from a flood of refugees, that obviously affects the results,” he told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

But Nihad Bunar, an education policy researcher at Stockholm University, is concerned about the new database.

“When you assign normative values like better and worse, you can easily get a picture that lacks nuance. Even if the point of comparing is to help schools improve their operations, the effect can be the opposite, with increased stigmatizing as a result,” Bunar told SvD.


Swedish opposition proposes ‘rapid tests for ADHD’ to cut gang crime

The Moderate Party in Stockholm has called for children in so called "vulnerable areas" to be given rapid tests for ADHD to increase treatment and cut gang crime.

Swedish opposition proposes 'rapid tests for ADHD' to cut gang crime

In a press release, the party proposed that treating more children in troubled city areas would help prevent gang crime, given that “people with ADHD diagnoses are “significantly over-represented in the country’s jails”. 

The idea is that children in so-called “vulnerable areas”, which in Sweden normally have a high majority of first and second-generation generation immigrants, will be given “simpler, voluntary tests”, which would screen for ADHD, with those suspected of having the neuropsychiatric disorder then put forward for proper evaluations to be given by a child psychiatrist. 

“The quicker you can put in place measures, the better the outcomes,” says Irene Svenonius, the party’s leader in the municipality, of ADHD treatment, claiming that children in Sweden with an immigrant background were less likely to be medicated for ADHD than other children in Sweden. 

In the press release, the party said that there were “significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD within Stockholm country”, with Swedish-born children receiving diagnosis and treatment to a higher extent, and with ADHD “with the greatest probability” underdiagnosed in vulnerable areas. 

At a press conference, the party’s justice spokesman Johan Forsell, said that identifying children with ADHD in this areas would help fight gang crime. 

“We need to find these children, and that is going to help prevent crime,” he said. 

Sweden’s climate minister Annika Strandhäll accused the Moderates of wanting to “medicate away criminality”. 

Lotta Häyrynen, editor of the trade union-backed comment site Nya Mitten, pointed out that the Moderates’s claim to want to help children with neuropsychiatric diagnoses in vulnerable areas would be more credible if they had not closed down seven child and youth psychiatry units. 

The Moderate Party MP and debater Hanif Bali complained about the opposition from left-wing commentators and politicians.

“My spontaneous guess would have been that the Left would have thought it was enormously unjust that three times so many immigrant children are not getting a diagnosis or treatment compared to pure-Swedish children,” he said. “Their hate for the Right is stronger than their care for the children. 

Swedish vocab: brottsförebyggande – preventative of crime