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Germany

School success in Germany depends on regional and social origin

After the damning results of the 2000 PISA school assessment, Germany enacted new educational standards. Now the country has administered a new domestic assessment, but the results aren't what some had hoped.

Students in a classroom

Bavarian schools outperformed their Berlin counterparts

On Wednesday, education ministers from Germany's 16 states meet in Berlin to present the results of a new inter-German school performance assessment.

Ninth-graders were tested in the subjects of German and English. The apparent winners were the states of Baden-Wuerttemburg and Bavaria, with Bremen coming bottom of nearly all the results.

The study comes ten years after Germany was shocked by its low ranking on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which compares educational performance across countries.

The tests were taken by 36,000 students at 1,500 schools of all levels. The study was based on the newly implemented nationwide educational standards and was carried out by the Berlin Institute for Quality Development in Education.

A school notebook

The 2000 PISA study of literacy among German students provided a disappointing result

Social background matters

The new study confirmed that the correlation between social background and educational opportunity in Germany is still extremely high. A child from an upper-class family is 4.5 times more like to visit the college preparatory gymnasium than a student from a working-class family - even if both students tested equally in intelligence and learning ability.

Conversely, the social gap in education was an area in which the two states that ranked highest in general, Baden-Wuerttemburg and Bavaria, were lowest. Students from upper-class families in the two states were 6.6 and 6.5 times as likely to attend gymnasium as working-class students, respectively. Berlin had the lowest gap, at 1.7.

Another important factor in a student's achievement was national background. Nearly 18 percent of all ninth-graders in Germany come from families with an immigrant background. That percentage jumps to 30 in the city-states of Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen.

The study found students of Turkish decent scored the lowest in reading comprehension, while students with families from Poland and the former Soviet Union fared somewhat better. However the results showed massive variation within each individual migrant group.

Gender also proved a deciding factor, with girls scoring higher than boys in all categories - most notably in spelling.

Authors: Andrew Bowen, Sarah Harman
Editor: Rob Turner

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