Sweden’s School Voucher Program Part 6


Milton Friedman’s film series “Free to Choose” Episode on Education part 4. It was Friedman’s voucher plan that was put into practice in Sweden in 1993.

I am in Florida at a convention center and I got to talking to someone and found out that he graduated at Central in Little Rock in 1977 and he played on the state championship football team in 1975 with Houston Nutt. Actually he told me that Houston was not the only player off that team that played college ball. Robert Farrell (wide receiver, Arkansas), Emmanuel Tolbert (running back, SMU), and Reggie Perry (running back, ?).

Are kids getting a good education today versus 30 years ago? One thing is for sure and that is liberals still oppose competition that the voucher system would bring.

I read an excellent article called “School Choice in Sweden: An Interview with Thomas Idergard of Timbro,” (March 8, 2010) by Dan Lips and I wanted to share some of his answers with you below:

DL: Have students in Sweden improved academically under the voucher system?
TI: The educational results data speak for themselves. On average, the independent schools show better student achievement than the public schools.
Let me just give you a few examples from some very clear indicators. The average “merit value” is actually an average of the grade points (each grade gives a certain amount of points) for all students in all subjects in the ninth grade. This means that every single student has his/her own merit value, but that the average merit value is calculated based on all students that particular year in that particular class, school, city/municipality, country, etc. By the summer of 2008 (the most current information available), the merit value average of the whole compulsory school in Sweden was 209 points (with a maximum possible value of 320, indicating highest grades in all subjects). The public schools averaged 207 points, while the independent schools proved to have 227 points!
This significant difference has been in place for many years. In the last years, with an increased competition from a steadily increasing amount of independent schools, the total merit value average of the whole compulsory school actually has begun to rise. In upper secondary education, the pattern is about the same.
Another way of measuring results is to adjust for socio-economic factors and look at what could be an expected outcome of learning regarding the students’ background. This is called “SALSA value,” a Swedish acronym for The National Board of Education Analysis Tool for Local Correlation Analyses. There is no national summarizing of SALSAs, but if you look into the single cities and municipalities, you often find independent schools getting the best SALSA results. This means that many independent schools educate their students better than expected if students’ socio-economic background is taken into consideration.
If you want to adjust for possible “grade inflation,” you can just look at the results of the national tests that are being carried out for the key subjects of the curriculum and in exactly the same manner all over Sweden in both public and independent schools. The rate of students reaching the two highest grade levels in all key subjects are at least 10 percent higher for independent schools compared to public schools.
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