Basic maths befuddle Swedish third graders

One in four Swedish nine-year-olds does not understand the relationship between the four basic arithmetic operations, a set of new national test results reveals.

That such a large percentage, 27 percent, of Swedish third-graders can’t tell the difference between addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division depends almost entirely on the fact that they haven’t had opportunities to learn them all.

“We’ve heard a lot of comments from teachers that many wait to go through all four arithmetic operations and many textbooks don’t teach division until fourth grade,” writes National National Agency for Education (Skolvertket) project leader Maj Götefelt in a statement.

Results were better for a second subsection of the national mathematics test, where more than 90 percent of students achieved higher than the lowest acceptable level of knowledge.

Third graders were also tested in their knowledge of Swedish, with results showing that students performed well in oral expression, which tested their ability to describe an event and give oral instructions.

A total of 98 percent passed the required level for Swedish, and 91 percent the required level for Swedish as a second language.

The most difficult test subsection for both groups was reading comprehension.

In examining the test results, the schools administration selected test scores from 400 schools, representing 12 percent of Sweden’s third graders.

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