Higher education News Germany
“The results that were above the OECD average in the PISA 2012 test could also be interpreted as good feedback to the schools – students, teachers, principals and the parents – that their efforts were necessary and successful.” – Elfriede OhrnbergerGermany’s poor performance in the 2000 PISA test surprised and concerned the relevant stakeholders in that country. By 2012, scores in mathematics, reading and science were above the OECD average. The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a triennial international survey, aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students. To date, students representing more than 70 economies have participated in the assessment. Importantly, Germany is one of only three countries that improved in both mathematics performance and equity since 2003. Additionally, Germany’s significant improvements in mathematics performance between 2006 and 2009 were largely the result of better performance among low-achieving and disadvantaged students. Elfriede Ohrnberger, Ministerialrätin of the Bavarian State Ministry of Education, joins me today in The Global Search for Education to discuss what Germany did. “German media reported the results of the first PISA test and added comments by journalists, scientists and relevant stakeholders describing these results as a PISA shock for Germany. But Germany took this as a salutary lesson.” – Elfriede OhrnbergerCongratulations on Germany’s success in the 2012 PISA test. Was improving your students test results in the PISA exam important to you and why? After the rather disappointing results for Germany in the first PISA test in the year 2000, the continuing improvement in all the test domains as well as the improvements for specific student groups have been recognized and appreciated warmly. On one hand, politicians and school administration could assume that the measures that had been taken after the release of the first PISA results were adequate and focused on the relevant areas. On the other hand, the results that were above the OECD average in the PISA 2012 test could also be interpreted as good feedback to the schools – students, teachers, principals and the parents – that their efforts were necessary and successful. “In September 2005, the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder passed a comprehensive quality assurance framework concept for teaching.” – Elfriede OhrnbergerTo what do you attribute your success? German media reported the results of the first PISA test and added comments by journalists, scientists and relevant stakeholders describing these results as a PISA shock for Germany. But Germany took this as a salutary lesson. After the release of the first PISA results, the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the 16 Länder named seven areas in which the Länder and the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs would become active (in Germany it is the Länder – the States of Germany – that are responsible for educational affairs):
- Measures to improve linguistic competence as soon as early childhood education.
- Measures to strengthen the link between the early childhood sector and primary school with the aim of an early school entry.
- Measures for the improvement of primary education and the continuous improvement of reading literacy and basic understanding of mathematical and scientific concepts.
- Measures for efficient support of educationally disadvantaged children with particular regard to children and young people with a migrant background.
- Measures to thoroughly develop and assure the quality of teaching and schools on the basis of binding educational standards and result-oriented evaluation.
- Measures to improve professionalism in teaching with particular regard to diagnostic and methodical competence as an element of systematic school development.
- Measures to expand provision of all-day activities and care with the aim of increasing opportunities for education and support, with particular regard to pupils with educational deficits and to especially gifted pupils.
The Länder have implemented concepts/strategies to realize these measures. The measures mark the frame and indicate the aims, but due to their responsibility for educational affairs, each Länder decides on its own about the adequate strategy or concept to be applied. In certain cases, some Länder also follow similar strategies.
“We do not want to claim that others shall “learn” from us, but we will be happy to share our experience. In Germany, the Länder (the States of Germany) responsible for educational affairs have agreed on necessary measures and have made their implementation a joint enterprise.” – Elfriede OhrnbergerCan you briefly explain some of the strategies you used to accomplish your education goals? In June 2002, the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs adopted a resolution to introduce Bildungsstandards (educational standards) binding for all Länder. In 2003 and 2004, educational standards were adopted for the primary sector, the Hauptschulabschluss and the Mittlerer Schulabschluss (secondary school programs). In October 2012, the Standing Conference, on the basis of a decision of October 2007, has resolved educational standards for the Allgemeine Hochschulreife (general higher education entrance qualification) in German and Mathematics and in follow-on courses in the foreign languages of English and French. In June 2006, the Standing Conference adopted a comprehensive strategy for educational monitoring which consists of four interconnected areas:
- Participation in international comparative studies of pupil achievement.
- Central review of the achievement of educational standards in a comparison between the Länder.
- Comparative studies within the Länder in order to review the efficiency of individual schools.
- The joint education reporting of the Federation and the Länder.
A new poll conducted by Ipsos for Reuters News
In twenty-four countries found that 41% of respondents identified themselves as "evolutionists" and 28% as "creationists," with 31% indicating that they "simply don't know what to believe," according to a press release issued by Ipsos on April 25, 2011.
The "evolutionist" view was most popular in Sweden (68%), Germany (65%), and China (64%), with the United States ranking 18th (28%), between Mexico (34%) and Russia (26%); the "creationist" view was most popular in Saudi Arabia (75%), Turkey (60%), and Indonesia (57%), with the United States ranking 6th (40%), between Brazil (47%) and Russia (34%)