Awful grades no barrier for would-be teachers

Awful grades no barrier for would-be teachers
Sweden's teacher training colleges are admitting students who score very poorly in entrance exams, a new review has shown.

In a series of articles on the state of Swedish schools, the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper on Wednesday showed that Sweden’s teacher training colleges accepted 123 candidates last year who scored 0.1 of 2.0 in the Swedish tertiary education entrance exam (högskoleprovet).

People sitting the test who decided to only tick option C for every answer in the multiple-choice exam would have scored higher, earning a 0.4 grade.

The national average for students accepted into teacher training colleges was 0.5, DN reported.

Karin Mårdsjö Blume, head of teacher training at Linköping University, said the national quota system that dictates how people get into university was partly to blame.

Thirty percent of entrants to universities and colleges get in through taking the exam, rather than on the basis of their high-school grades (gymnasiebetyg).

In other words, some students with good grades from school could raise their chances of getting in by instead going down the entrance exam route, where less than ideal candidates are now getting in through an administrative back door.

“This is basically a question about what path you take into education. We at Linköping University have made the assessment that the quota is probably too big,” Mårdsjö Blume told The Local.

“We think the education ministry should be looking at this. We, meanwhile, have heard it might be possible to apply for a quota system exemption, which we are considering looking into.”

Mårdsjö Blume added that there were few applicants to teach grades four to nine, when the pupils are aged ten to 15 (mellanstadiet and högstadiet), meaning teacher training was extra vulnerable to candidates with low test scores.

Education Minister Jan Björklund, meanwhile, said the underlying problem was how undesirable the profession had become.

“Putting the schools in the hands of the municipalities has been disastrous,” he told the TT news agency.

Björklund said the number of candidates had steadily decreased for the past two decades.

“When the state ran the schools there were many more applicants,” said Björklund, who also heads the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet), which is alone in the Swedish political landscape in wanting to wrest power over the schools back from local government to the national level.

Ann Törnkvist

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