The failure of immigrant students to catch up with their peers in Sweden is a key factor in the country's overall decline in educational achievement and test scores, the Education Agency said Monday.
The percentage of immigrant children in Sweden's school population jumped from three percent in 2006 to eight percent in 2015.
At the same time, a drop in academic performance has led to an increase in the percentage of students who did not qualify for upper secondary school from 10 percent in 2006 to more than 14 percent 2015, according to the report entitled "The Importance of Immigration for School Results."
The agency estimates that up to 85 percent of this performance phenomenon was due to immigrant students arriving in Sweden at an older age and unable to catch up with Swedes of the same age.
Over the past decade, Swedish test scores on the OECD's so-called PISA ranking of school performance among 15-year-olds have also dropped dramatically, and the arrival of so many immigrant children who are educationally lagging is again the main reason, according to the report.
"We already know that immigrant students on average have lower performance in school. Now we know more about how much the increasing proportion of immigrant students has affected overall performance," said Education Agency Director Anna Ekstrom.
Sweden's performance in the OECD’s PISA survey has also "declined over the past decade from around average to significantly below average. No other country taking part in PISA has seen a steeper fall," the OECD said in a 2015 statement.
"In the most recent test in 2012, Sweden ranked 28 among the 34 OECD countries in mathematics, 27 in reading and 27 in science," the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said.
According to Sweden's education agency, the unprecedented wave of asylum seekers who have arrived since 2014 should increase this trend. Of the 163,000 asylum seekers who arrived in Sweden last year, 43 percent were minors, according to the Swedish Migration Agency.
"We need more teachers, teachers in their native language, interpreters, etc. in a situation already marked by the shortage," Ekstrom said in a statement.