Directorate for Education and Skills

Education Policy Outlook Highlights: Germany

 

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  Last update 11 April 2014  
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Germany’s educational context

Students: Germany has become an above-average performer on PISA with significant improvement in reading and mathematics over the years, and the impact of socio-economic background on mathematics performance has decreased to slightly above the OECD average. Germany has a high proportion of children enrolled in early childhood education, while system-level policies such as early tracking (mostly at the age of 10) and a relatively high rate of grade repetition may hinder equity. The well-developed dual system, offering students both vocational and academic education, eases integration into employment. Tertiary graduation rates have increased recently, but are still below the OECD average. In the 2012 OECD Survey of Adult Skills, adults in Germany have average skills proficiency levels compared to other participating countries, while younger adults score higher than other adults in Germany and around the average of young adults in participating countries. Labour market perspectives are positive compared to most OECD countries: unemployment rates are among the lowest across OECD and the proportion of 15-29 year-olds who are neither employed nor in education or training (NEET) is below average.

Institutions: In the context of large between-school variations in performance and different types of vocational and academic programmes, German students’ views on learning environments are close to the OECD average. In recent years, school leaders have benefited from increasing autonomy and their use of instructional leadership approaches is above the OECD average, according to school principals’ reports in PISA 2012. Teacher training takes between 5.5 and 6.5 years, and the teaching workforce is ageing. Teachers’ salaries are among the highest across OECD countries. School supervisory authorities perform external school evaluation which is taken into account for implementation of school improvement measures. National standards for education and evaluation have been put in place to ensure comparability.

System: Germany has a decentralised education system, with responsibilities shared between the Federation, the Länder and local authorities, and co-ordination ensured through several bodies. Schooling decisions are mainly made at the Länder level, while vocational education and training (VET) is a joint responsibility of the Federation and the Länder, with strong engagement of social partners. Investment in educational institutions is below the OECD average and has remained stable despite the economic crisis. Funding is provided mainly by public sources, with large contributions from the private sector in vocational secondary programmes.

Key policy issues

Germany faces challenges to support students with disadvantaged and migrant backgrounds and to continue reducing the impact of socio-economic background on student outcomes while raising performance in academic and VET provision. New initiatives in the field of teaching and teacher training are advisable to support school improvement, particularly in view of the high proportion of older teachers and the potential impact on teacher replacement and teacher training when they retire.

Recent policy responses

To improve equity and boost participation and success of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, the National Integration Plan (2007) was created and, in collaboration with civil society stakeholders, transformed into the National Action Plan on Integration (NAP-I) (2011). The Recognition Act (2012) facilitates the recognition of qualifications gained abroad for the professional integration of foreigners.


Efforts are being made to support school improvement through the Quality Offensive in Teacher Training (2013). The goal is to achieve sustainable improvement in the process of teacher training, including career entry and further learning. This policy also aims to contribute to an expanded recognition of course achievements and certificates throughout the country, offering more flexibility to students and teaching postgraduates.


In 2006, the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany (Kultusministerkonferenz, KMK) adopted a comprehensive strategy for educational monitoring including four interconnected areas: international comparative studies of student achievement, central review of achievement of educational standards (the basis for comparison between Länder), Länder comparisons of efficiency of individual schools, and joint education reporting. They are also further developing the use of educational standards.

Germany achieved above-average mathematics scores in PISA 2012, and its performance has improved significantly since 2000. Reading and science scores are also significantly above OECD average and have increased since PISA results in both 2000 and 2003. The impact of socio-economic status on mathematics scores has decreased compared to 2000, but is still slightly above the OECD average (see the interactive chart below). Germany is one of only three OECD countries where both mathematics scores and equity indicators have improved since 2003.

 

Germany achieved above-average mathematics scores in PISA 2012, and its performance has improved significantly since 2000. Reading and science scores are also significantly above OECD average and have increased since PISA results in both 2000 and 2003. The impact of socio-economic status on mathematics scores has decreased compared to 2000, but is still slightly above the OECD average (see the interactive chart below). Germany is one of only three OECD countries where both mathematics scores and equity indicators have improved since 2003.

 

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Permanent URL: www.oecd.org/edu/policyoutlook.htm

OECD work on education: www.oecd.org/education

 

 

 

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