Among the nations of Europe, Sweden has taken the lead in imposing choice, competition, and high-stakes testing. Sweden has vouchers, so students can take their public money to any public or private school they want. Sweden also adopted a national curriculum.

The result: a falling quality of education, lower results on international tests, and increased social stratification. This is an example of what Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg calls GERM (the Global Education Reform Movement), characterized by choice, competition, and testing.

Swedish educators await the release of the next PISA exam with trepidation, but the education minister of the conservative government is already prepared with excuses, ready to blame the Social Democrats, who were in power until 2006, or to blame teachers, whose profession has fallen into low esteem as a consequence of government policies.

Note that Sweden is demographically similar to Finland, yet its schools continue to decline as Finland attracts the admiration of the world.

What is Finland doing right? What is Sweden doing wrong? Should the Swedish people accept the minister’s assurances and wait “several more years” to see the promised success of vouchers, choice, competition, and other GERM policies?