Equality in Assesment in and by Swedish Schools: Problems and Opportunities

Jan-Eric Gustafsson Christina Cliffordson Gudrun Erickson

Sweden needs to develop a national evaluation system for schools and the use of The Swedish Scholastic Aptitude Test as a selection mechanism for universities and university colleges should be kept to a minimum. These are two of the conclusions in the research report Equality in Assessment in and by Swedish Schools: Problems and Opportunities, which has been produced on behalf of the SNS Educational Commission.

likvardig_kunskapsbedomning_web.pdf 888.3 KB PDF

A colossus with feet of clay
The Swedish system for evaluating pupils’ knowledge and the follow-up of the knowledge results in schools can be described as a colossus with feet of clay. The researchers provide a number of concrete proposals for how the evaluation system for schools can be improved and how the admission system for higher education should be designed:
National evaluations of knowledge. Introduce an experiment with a national system for evaluating knowledge in comprehensive school and secondary school.
Review of the admission. Let a government commission make a total review of the admission system to higher education with the objective of rectifying its serious deficiencies.
Refine the use of the Swedish Scholastic Aptitude Test. Return to the original objectives of a Scholastic Aptitude Test that constitutes a ”second chance”. This can be done in two ways, both by decreasing the share of applicants who are admitted to higher education through the Scholastic Aptitude Test to 10−15 per cent of the total number of slots and by introducing a lowest age limit for being allowed to take the test.

– The use of the Swedish Scholastic Aptitude Test for admission to higher education is far too extensive and entails large injustices. Moreover, there is a risk that the wrong individuals are admitted to the educational programmes, according to Christina Cliffordson.

PISA is not sufficient as an evaluation instrument
The report was presented at an SNS seminar. The participants were the authors of the report CHRISTINA CLIFFORDSON, Professor of Pedagogy, University West, GUDRUN ERICKSON, Associate Professor of Pedagogy, University of Gothenburg and JAN-ERIC GUSTAFSSON, Professor of Pedagogy, University of Gothenburg. Gustafsson did, among other things, point out the risk of putting too much faith in international evaluations, such as the PISA-report:

”Naturally, we must take the results of the report very seriously but there are parts of the Swedish curriculum that disappear in international evaluations. We end up in a dangerous situation if we use these international studies in order to get a picture of the knowledge trend in Swedish schools. We need our own long-term evaluation system.”

The report was discussed by PETER EKBORG, Deputy Director General, The Swedish Schools Inspectorate, ANNA EKSTRÖM, Director General, The Swedish Schools Inspectorate and LENA LINDGREN, Associate Professor in Public Administration, School of Public Administration at University of Gothenburg. Ekström was positive to the possibility of designing the national exam system so that it supports both the evaluation of objectives and a grading system that is equal and stable over time. However, she pointed out that it is mainly one party that is more important than all the others in schools:

”Everything builds on the teachers. A refinement of the exams can create security for those teachers who are then to do the grading.”

The meeting was chaired by CAMILO VON GREIFF, Research Director, SNS.

CHRISTINA CLIFFORDSON, christina.cliffordson@hv.se, +46-703 217586
JAN-ERIC GUSTAFSSON, jan-eric.gustafsson@ped.gu.se, +46-705 926600
GUDRUN ERICKSON, gudrun.erickson@ped.gu.se