To be fair, Sweden also emphasizes much more on trade schools than standard American education. However, school systems is not the issue at heart.
The real issue is a lack of discipline in American schools. Students are passed too easily and the blame for bad grades has started to fall on teachers. Teachers are treated more like daycare. They have to look after children who simply don’t wish to learn. Children pass elementary and middle school without actually understanding math, history, and English until finally forced into high school where that matters. Then, in high school, they fall behind. So the school system thinks “huh standardized testing might be the solution!” or “throwing more money at it may help!”
No, the issue is lack of discipline and criticism to students. You know why Europe is surpassing us? Because Europe doesn’t have students ingrained with a sense of entitlement. They are criticized, they fail, and they strive to be better with a sense of competition. Yet Americans see what is going on there and think: “huh. Sweden has outdoor classes. Maybe that’s the magical solution!”
There is no positive magical solution. The solution is to establish students with critical thinking and allow them to fail. Once they fail, they either can chose to stay a failure or actually work hard, get smarter and wiser, and succeed. Because success is not just handed to us.
This is why South Korea, despite the amount of suicides, has far better education than the US. It’s extremely competitive. If American schools just had a slight more competition in them (not too much) perhaps there would be more priority to do well.