Is Swedish School Choice Disastrous—or Is the Reading of the Evidence?

2014-07-23 Friedman Foundation

Gabriel Heller Sahlgren, affiliated to IFN, argues that the reading of the evidence is disastrous when dealing with Swedish school choice and test results. He refutes Professor Ray Fisman's statement that school choice reforms have been one reason behind Sweden’s fall in international test scores.

So what does explain Sweden’s lagging education performance? Sahlgren argues that there are strong indications related to wholesale changes in pedagogical approaches, based on progressive teaching ideas—another example of misguided, universal reforms carried out at the same time as the expansion of choice: "Indeed, the 1994 national curriculum enshrined the across-the-board changes, which were supposed to “individualize” students’ education. In practice, that meant less teacher-centric instruction, with students working more by themselves."

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