The fact that Sweden dropped in December's Pisa rankings is not an accurate reflection of school life, the Dagens Nyheter newspaper reported on Wednesday. The results saw the country's 15-year-olds drop below the OECD average in maths, reading comprehension, and natural sciences.
But students were too worn out to care about the Pisa tests, choosing instead to focus their attention on the other 12 national tests they were sitting at the time, all of which contributed to their final end-of-year grade.
"The national tests are insane. They drain so much of our energy," Jesper Palmqvist, a top Bjursås student, told the paper.
"When another test came along – above all one that didn't contribute to our final grades, we got the feeling that it wasn't so important. Many of us didn't take it seriously and that kind of attitude is contagious."
Palmqvist, who was just one of over 100 interviewed by DN, scored the highest possible grades in maths in year nine, but only answered one in three Pisa questions correctly in the same subject.
Many of the students admitted that they just answered the multiple-choice questions at random, while others explained that their teachers had said the tests weren't important.
The Pisa rankings revealed that no other country had 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 saw its students take such a beating in their studies.
Sweden's schools now rank below both the United States and the UK according to the Pisa rankings.
More to follow