The dramatically worsened results in the 2022 PISA study indicate that education gaps in the Swedish education system remain one of the most significant challenges to address, especially in maths. The Swedish government has extended the teaching time for mathematics in primary school to tackle what education minister Lotta Edholm has described as a "maths crisis." Simultaneously, significant budget cuts in education are occurring despite an existing and growing shortage of teachers. Rather than addressing this issue directly, the government has linked the problems to COVID-19 and digitalization. Under the slogan "from screen to paper," teachers are encouraged to "start using pen and paper" instead of digital tools. We want to bring a different perspective to this discussion.
We are convinced that digital and analog tools should be combined, and that this is essential to reduce the education gap. It also helps in linking home and school, as well as in personalised learning, especially in subjects such as mathematics, where a variety of teaching methods are beneficial.
What is the PISA study?
Every three years, an international study is conducted that examines the knowledge of 15-year-olds in reading comprehension, mathematics, and natural sciences. The results provide an indication of how the level of knowledge is evolving in these subjects in each country and how it compares to other countries. The results from the 2022 measurement were presented on December 5, 2023.
What do the PISA results show?
The latest PISA results are the lowest recorded since 2012, and never before have the results declined so much between two measurements. COVID-19 is a contributing factor, but declining results have been observed for a decade. The decline is most pronounced among the lowest-performing students. Addressing knowledge gaps in the Swedish education system is the major challenge.
The importance of early training and stimulation
Studies show that as early as grade 3, it is possible to identify which students are at risk of receiving failing grades in mathematics in grade 9. The analysis is that early training lays the foundation for success later in school, and it is crucial to provide varied and individually tailored support to the child in a timely manner.
Digital tools as support both in school and at home
On several occasions, Education Minister Lotta Edholm has emphasised the importance of using physical textbooks and other analog tools in schools. It is essential to understand that physical and digital tools have different advantages. A clear area where digital learning materials can contribute is in personalised learning and addressing the challenges we face. Analog and digital tools should collaborate to best address these challenges.
Albert's digital educator, Madeleine Loostrand, an education specialist and licensed teacher, comments on digital tools as support in school and at home:
"The deteriorating results of students in mathematics and reading are concerning. The government's focus on early interventions and core subjects is important, as is more and early support. However, 'digitalization' encompasses so many different things that simplifying it as a problem is an oversimplification. Digital and analog tools are qualitatively different and have different strengths and weaknesses. Physical and social interaction are cornerstones of learning. At the same time, digital educational products have a great opportunity to contribute to the challenges seen in the education sector. They provide conditions for personalised learning at home - a place where many students struggle with maths without teacher support. In the classroom, where a substitute teacher covers to the best of their ability, digital tools can be crucial to maintaining quality. With these examples, it becomes clear that the problems in the Swedish education system do not stem from digitalization but rather the opposite: digitally mediated learning has a crucial role to play now and in the future. To solve the 'maths crisis' that the government sees in Sweden, we need both more and earlier training and improved access to education. Digital tools in general, and Albert specifically, can contribute to this by providing personalised and enjoyable learning that increases motivation, especially for those facing challenges."
About the Albert Group
PISA results show that knowledge gaps are significant in Sweden, and the availability of quality education is inadequate. In response to these challenges, the Albert Group, with its portfolio of analog and digital educational products, has solutions to support early mathematical development in children. There are few other actors who similarly support a child's knowledge development in the often overlooked training at home - throughout the entire primary school period, offering personalised learning that meets each child at the right level. "Albert wants to be a bridge that connects home and school and levels the knowledge gaps," says Jonas Mårtensson, CO-CEO of Albert.