Sweden’s Free Schools Create Debate

In the 1990s, Sweden decided to attempt a new approach to mass education that was termed, “free schools.” Parents or other organizations could establish a school and receive state funding for its students. For some reason, entry into these schools were based on academic scores which has resulted in ever increasing segregation. Students from wealthier families, on the average, have higher test scores and thus are more able to attend the free school.

Some recent research argues the rise of free schools has been also witnessed the decline of high test scores. Swedish students these days have lower grades and do less on international tests than Swedish students achieved ten or twenty years ago. Does this indicate that free schools lower academic standards?

We lack research as to the achievement of free school students in work situations, demonstration of critical and creative thinking or scientific success. We lack evidence as to whether being  provided more academic freedom results in students who are intellectually and emotionally more successful than students who attend schools in which higher test scores are the end result of “education.”

Are students less or more happy in a free school is an important question?