German students falling behind in sciences, mathematics | News | DW | 18.10.2019
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German students falling behind in sciences, mathematics

Students in Germany aren't performing as well in mathematics and science as they were in 2012, according to a new study. The negative trend was most visible in eastern states.

A study of ninth-grade students (typically 14- and 15-year-olds) across Germany has recorded a marked drop in scores for math and natural sciences between 2012 and 2018.

Nearly 45,000 pupils from 1,460 schools were part of the survey, which was released by the Institute for Quality Development in Education (IQB) in Berlin on Friday.

Read moreGermany's school system 101: Prepare for the mind-boggling

The IQB noted that although the overall results for 2018 were stable, there was an "unfavorable trend" in math, chemistry, biology and physics. It said the drop in performance was evident in most states, but especially affected those in the country's east.

"We hardly recorded any positive trends," said the IQB's Petra Stanat, who led the study.

Pupils in the states of Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania, Rhineland-Palatinate and Schleswig-Holstein performed worse than in other parts of the country, the researchers said.

25% underperforming in math

The study found that about one in every four ninth-grade students last year failed to reach the minimum math level required for the middle school leaving certificate (MSA). But about 45% managed to make the higher regulatory standard.

In biology, chemistry and physics, between 5-17% of students failed to reach the minimum standard.

Read moreGerman high school students decry 'difficult' math tests

The five former East German states achieved top scores in math and science in 2012, but the standard there has since dropped to be more in line with, or just above, the national average — with the exception of Saxony.

According to the study, the eastern state, together with Bavaria in the south, has higher numbers of high-achieving math and science students than other parts of the country.

Assuming they haven't been kept back a year at some stage, Germans children are typically 15 by the end of ninth grade. 

Watch video 02:35

Practical Mathematics

nm/msh (KNA, dpa)

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