Recently, a number of news articles have been published about Internationella Engelska Skolan in Borås. Annakarin Johansson Sandman, Head of Academics at IES, responds to some of the statements that have appeared in the media during the past week.
Is it true that students from IES in Borås perform worse in high school than other students?
- That is definitely not our view. Unfortunately, we do not have the opportunity to follow up with all of our students' results in high school. However, the absolute majority of the feedback we receive is quite the opposite, from both former students, parents and colleagues at other schools.
More than half of the students at IES Borås are multilingual. 53 percent were born in another country or have parents from a country other than Sweden. We know that it can be a challenge for some students to transition from an international, bilingual environment in primary school to a more traditional Swedish one in high school. We work continously to find ways to help in facilitating the transition for all of our students.
The accusation that IES students perform worse in high school is very serious and principal Maritza Molin at IES Borås has asked for statistics from the municipality high school administration to understand if there is something behind the accusations. According to Christer Samuelsson, head of administration of the upper secondary school administration in Borås municipality, in an email to IES Borås, is “... the statement that the principal at Sven Eriksonsgymnasiet makes, is not the administration's official position. We do not have data to support such a position. "
Furthermore, it is a statement made by one principal at one high school and it is based on his own so-called observations of a small number of students. IES works systematically with both teaching and grading in a way that both the National Agency for Education's statistics and the Swedish Schools Inspectorate's supervision have shown work. Borås Tidning also reports that the anonymous teachers who are quoted in the article have no statistical basis for their claims.
Swedish Radio P4 Sjuhärad has interviewed a student who claims that he did not learn anything at IES in Borås, how do you view it?
- If one student experiences it, it is of course a failure, so it is serious. However, one student's opinion does not represent all previous IES students and that is important to point out.
Does IES Borås inflate the grades of the students?
- No they do not. Fair grades are very important to IES and we work systematically with the issue. Last time we had national exams, IES Borås had a significantly higher correspondence between the results on national exams in core subjects and final grades than both other independent schools and municipal schools in Borås. This can be seen in the National Agency for Education's statistics.
How do you work to ensure that correct grades are given?
- At IES, we constantly work to ensure that the grades that are set reflect the student's knowledge. IES Borås, like IES in general, works actively against both grade inflation and grade deflation, for example through joint assessment locally and together with other schools, grade discussions and training for our new teachers in the curriculum and grading. This work is also reflected in the education and support we provide to school managements in their analysis work as well as systematic quality work.
The Swedish Schools Inspectorate assesses in a recent review that IES, as huvudman, maintains high quality in the work of carrying out follow-up and analysis in order to identify challenges in terms of fair and equivalent grading.
How important is it for IES that your students maintain high grades?
- For IES, grades are not an end in themselves, but it is about eligibility for further studies, and that our students have a good foundation for further educational development. Our focus is on preparing our students for an international environment by offering a bilingual education and providing the support and challenges that we should according to the Education Act.
Borås Tidning refers to a report from the National Agency for Education which points out that fewer students from IES graduate from high school three years after they have finished upper secondary school compared with students from other schools. How do you view that statement?
- It is a new report that we have not yet finished analyzing, as there are several views on methodology and selection. Above all, what must be taken into account is that the analysis was made by excluding students who do not have upper secondary school qualifications. Linked to this, the municipality of Gothenburg is used as a reference. This means that the municipality of Gothenburg, which has a very large proportion of students who do not pass compulsory school, appears to be a good municipality in the analysis, which is remarkable.
In 2017, 97 percent of IES students received upper secondary school eligibility, in the city of Gothenburg the corresponding figure was 72 percent. This means that 28 percent, almost a third, of the reference municipality's lowest performing students and three percent of IES students have been excluded. If these students are included, 75 percent (077 * 0.97) of the students who graduated from year nine of IES received a high school diploma. In the reference municipality of Gothenburg, 57 percent (0.79 * 0.72) received a high school diploma. The conclusion is that 32 percent more of the students who complete year 9 at IES get a high school diploma, not adjusted for background.
Furthermore, students who go on to an international education are excluded, this proportion is likely to be higher at IES and applies even more so to high-achieving students. The analysis also does not take into account causality nor which school / high school unit the student has started or completed his or her education. This should be of great importance for whether a student succeeds or not. It should also be noted that you adjust for merit value, which is an outcome of which primary school a student attended and not on background data in the ordinary sense.
We have previously asked Gabriel Heller Sahlgren and Henrik Jordahl, researchers at the Institute for Business Research, IFN, to look at how our students are doing when they leave us, and according to their report, a higher proportion of students taht attended IES in grade 9 and went on to study longer programs in university at the age of 25 compared equally with other student groups.
At IES, a large part of the teaching takes place in English. Can it make the transition to high school more difficult?
- The transition from primary school to high school can feel like a test for any student, not just for IES students. We often have former students who come back and visit us during their first high school semester who tell us that they feel well prepared and that their English lessons are not challenging enough. How students handle the transition between compulsory school and upper secondary school is highly individual and upper secondary schools must review their routines for support for new students.
To support the transition for our students, we use, for example, mathematics books in Swedish to a very large extent and recommend that we use a combination of books in Swedish and English in NO teaching.
Why is so much of the teaching done in English?
- It is our profile and an important reason for many students to choose us. We are a bilingual school. Parents choose IES because they understand the value of bilingual education and the opportunities offered by the command of the English language. We train future global citizens, being able to communicate in English opens doors for them in further studies and in working life.
Does IES have a lower proportion of qualified teachers than other schools in Borås?
- On the contrary. 79 percent of IES Borås teachers are licensed or trained teachers with the right to teach in English according to exceptions in the Education Act. According to the National Agency for Education's statistics, the schools in Borås have 67.1 percent teacher qualifications in grades 4-6 and 62.4 percent qualified teachers in grades 7-9.