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school rankings in Germany

(8 Posts)
outnumberedbymen Fri 15-Feb-13 11:06:22

nullius I am a German who lived, studied and worked in the UK for 13 years before having to return to Germany due to my mum's poor health. I did my PGCE in the UK and its difficult though not impossible to get into the German school system. I am actually currently in the process of applying to a Gymnasium where we are now living ( left my job at the Lower Saxony school to go on maternity leave, and then we moved to a different part of Germany so could not return to that job).

Wrt the vergleichsarbeit, i think it's up to the principal and HoD to decide IF it counts towards the grade and how much. I remember there being very very strict marking guidelines, hence perhaps the point deduction for not underlining a title.

NulliusInBlurba Fri 15-Feb-13 10:45:20

Gosh, yes, outnumbered, I've just remembered, DD1 had a Vergleichsarbeit at her Berlin Gymnasium last year, in year 8. I think in Berlin it's always year 8 now. It was definitely German and maths. My kids have never been tested on a subject in a Vergleichsarbeit apart from those two subjects- it's possible there's also a test for English, but my kids are in bilingual schools so the English test as a foreign language would be pretty pointless (although they get tested at the same level as German native speakers in German).

We were actually quite peeved at the results, as DD1 had got a 3 for German at the end of the 7th, but then came third in a group of 34 kids (and yes, a class size of 34 is illegal - there's a real shortage of German teachers in Berlin) in the Vergleichsarbeit. The only reason the German teacher could come up with for her 3 (rather than the 2 we had expected) when we asked at the Elterngespräch was that she had failed to underline one title in an essay hmm. We were told in that school at least, the VA grade had no impact on the end of year mark (sadly for us).

I also got the impression that the teachers saw the test and preparing for it as more of an imposition than anything else - the Berliner Rahmenplan is packed full enough as it is.

DD1 did one Vergleichsarbeit in year 2 and another in year 4, but by the time DD2 did it, it had changed to year 3.

So outnumbered, are you a German now living in the UK, or a Brit who somehow managed to enter the Gymnasium system?

outnumberedbymen Thu 14-Feb-13 20:00:30

nullius yes, you probably mean the vergleichsarbeiten? They do exist (although didn't when I went to school) but not every year gets tested and not in all key subjects. I think it's pretty much like a lottery which year gets tested in which subjects. When I was teaching at a Gymnasium in Lower Saxony, it was the year 8th turn to have the vergleichsarbeiten in English and maths. I had to prepare my year 8 for it and then mark it. The results if those tests actually made up 10% of their overall grade for the next reports.

However, afaik the results are not made public. Tbh none of us teachers really saw much point in them...

NulliusInBlurba Thu 14-Feb-13 19:17:32

Ah yes, the test at 8. DD2 did a test of German and maths in year 3, I think. Can't remember if it was just Berlin or Germany as a whole. The results were then classified according to the rest of the class, to the district, and to Berlin as a whole, so we could see how she measured against different groupings. I suppose you could use that data to see how the school 'performs' compared with the rest of your state, but I don't know if that info is generally available or only to parents with a child in that year.

Sadly, there are a number of otherwise educated (and liberal) Germans who define a 'good' school or not by how many non-Germans attend - the more non-Germans, the less desirable it becomes. And they're quite unashamed about admitting this too. Some (ex-)good friends of ours were quite unaware how insulting it was to tell us - as non Germans - that they had managed to get a place at a school with a lower proportion of non-German kids. But we're not German, we said, so you think we're undesirable? Oh, they answered, we don't mean people like you. As I said, ex-friends.

NulliusInBlurba Thu 14-Feb-13 19:11:29

It's true that there are no national rankings, but some Bundesländer have just started a system of school inspections (in the OFSTED manner) and the results are then published online - although there is no single overall level such as 'outstanding' or 'failing'. I know that most schools in Berlin have been inspected already and the schools have to include the inspection results on their website.

Some years back I interviewed (for a university place) a girl from a private secondary school which is reputed to be the academically best, and most elite, in Germany. It gets TV documentaries made about it and suchlike. This girl turned up with a textbook under her arm and started wittering on about how much she loved it. So one person on the panel asked her what she thought of theory X in the chapter on Y - and she was totally lost. She clearly knew nothing about the subject at all. So much for high academic standards. She didn't get the place.

outnumberedbymen Wed 06-Feb-13 19:21:21

it's very much word of mouth in Germany. and that, of course, does not necessarily reflect how good that school actually is. as an example, when we moved to a new town, I asked around which preschools are good etc. I then sent ds2 to the one which had a very good in reputation. well, it turns out it was indeed once the best preschool in town. it sure isnt anymore...

as reddwarf said, you are allocated a primary school depending on where you live. There usually isnt a choice. the only way we managed to get ds1 into a different primary school was because we said that the person who looks after him in the afternoon lives around the corner from there (we had to prove that of course). it's a bit easier with secondary school. still only word of mouth though wrt how good they are.

I think Germany has only just started ranking its universities!

reddwarf Wed 06-Feb-13 12:40:35

As far as i know they don't exist? Primary school children automatically go to their closest school, there is now resaerch, choosing hoping etc like in UK. In the final year of primary the children are frequently tested in 3 subjects, maths, german and hsu which is general studies. The mean of their test scores is taken. If the child gets 2,33 or above they go to grammar school, 2,6 (i think) they go to a middle school, and lower than that is the equivalent of the old secondary model, with more practical work, apprenticeships etc.

That's what it's like in Bavaria anyway. The different Bundesländer vary.

You automatucally have the right to attend your local secondary school if you have the right score, but it is possible to apply for others, though this is not common. But at primary level i don't think it is possible, though private school do exist too of course.

But i've never heard of or seen such ofsted reports. It's very different mindset to the uk

99goldensilence Wed 06-Feb-13 12:26:19

Can anyone tell me how I might find out how good a school is in Germany? One school has told me about a test at the age of 8 - I wonder if there is something like Ofsted reports?

thank you

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