Germany has increased test scores while decreasing inequality, writes Carly Berwick in The Atlantic.
“PISA shock” hit Germany in 2000, when students scored below the international average (and below the U.S.) in all three tested subjects.
Among the OECD countries,German schools posted the largest gap between top and bottom quartile students. Students with immigrant parents were much less likely to qualify for the college-prep track.
Germany’s reform efforts included the creation of national standards and standards-based tests for students in grades three and eight, which sounds much like the U.S. approach. But unlike the U.S., Germany doesn’t penalize schools for poor performance, nor does it publicize school-level test scores. Experts say its focus instead on providing school-based support, and monitoring and targeting the most disadvantaged students has allowed it to improve performance.
By 2012, German students scored above the OECD average, in part due to “dramatic increases” in math scores for disadvantaged students.
Some parts of Germany are phasing out the lowest high school track, which led only to low-wage jobs.
While Germany has reduced inequality, it’s done little for its high achievers, write Fordham’s Checker Finn and Brandon Wright.
Since 2009, “the percentage of German top scorers has dropped in every math and science measure across age groups—fourth grade, eighth grade, and age 15—as well as fourth grade reading.”