News | 07 December 2021

Grades should help – not hinder

As of the autumn term, schools that want to introduce grades from year 4, can do so. Out of the 26 schools in Sweden that distribute grades before the Christmas holidays, half are IES schools.


Annakarin Johansson Sandman, Head of Academics at IES

Grades from year four have not been allowed for many years. Instead it has been possible to give grade-like assessments, and most IES schools have done so. But from now on grades from year 4 will be possible again.

"Grades already in year 4 will make it easier to put in support earlier for students who need it", emphasized Annakarin Johansson Sandman who is Head of Academics at IES.

Annakarin Johansson Sandman said: “It is about making our students aware from an early age. Where they are at and what challenges they face, so that we can have an early communication about it. But above all, the grades are for the sake of the teachers. We believe in high academic expectations and to make students aware of their learning at an early stage, in order to take their own responsibility, of course with the support of the teachers.”

“But it is important to find a common language for students and teachers.” Annakarin Johansson Sandman stated.

“We have noticed that when you start calling it a grade, stress arises in the students. And that can happen whether it's at year four or eight. It is therefore important to talk about the grades as something that will help the student, not be of hindrance. It is the grades in year nine that are most important for the students' future studies and, by starting early, we simplify the way there.”

In 2021, IES has introduced a new tool - Academic Dashboard - where IES schools can see and compare how grades are set within their own school unit and the tool also makes it possible to see, compare, and analyse the situation across all IES’ schools.

“Having a direct insight into the grading helps us to support the schools in their work to set the correct grades and counteract grade inflation. At the same time, the schools themselves can analyze and compare their results from before and see how girls and boys compare to each other in various subjects, among other things. Students should know what grades they are getting even before they open their envelopes, it should not come as a surprise.”

Annakarin Johansson Sandman said: “You should not realize on the graduation day whether you have failed or received an "A". It is of utmost importance to communicate with the students all the way, with the grades as a background.”

Four of IES’ schools have already tried grading from year 4, when the Swedish National Agency for Education let schools test grading. The schools thought it worked well, that they could put in support earlier and that the students got a clearer picture of where they were at, at an earlier stage. Now nine more IES schools are introducing grades in time for the Christmas holidays. The ambition for the future is to introduce grades from year 4 in all IES' schools. But since it is a principal's decision, it is up to each school to do so.

“Internationally, it is common with grades at an early age. Finland, England, Germany and others have had it for a long time and IES wants to follow this international approach. Our goal is to get all our schools on board, but it is the principal who makes the actual decision. I also believe that many more schools outside IES will follow our example in the future”. Annakarin Johansson Sandman said.