IQB study on German and math: fourth graders significantly worse

IQB study on German and math: fourth graders significantly worse

Compared to 2016, the performance of elementary school students has plummeted. The teachers’ association calls for “a relentless inventory”.

A girl with pigtails sits in a classroom at the table

In all tested competences – reading, writing, listening and arithmetic – the performance has dropped significantly Photo: Marcel Kusch/dpa

BERLIN taz | Compared to 2016, fourth graders in Germany have significantly worsened in the core subjects German and math. This is the result of IQB Education Trendswhich was presented in Berlin on Monday.

In all tested competences – reading, writing, listening and arithmetic – the performance has dropped significantly. Above all, the proportion of students who fail to meet the minimum standards has again increased significantly: depending on their competence, the group of underperformers has grown by between eight and almost ten percent. The benefits have remained largely stable in only three federal states: Hamburg, Bremen and Rhineland-Palatinate.

“This is a significantly unfavorable development,” said Petra Stanat from the Institute for Quality Development in Education (IQB) when presenting the report. Their judgment is no better if you look at the results of 2021 in isolation. For example, every fifth student in German fails to meet the minimum standards. In spelling, this even applies to every:n third party.

In math, almost every fourth person has problems with basic tasks. The negative trend, which the IQB already identified between 2011 and 2016, has “intensified significantly” since 2016, according to Stanat. Even in Bavaria and Saxony, which stand out overall with good results, this trend is visible.

Social inequality is growing

The education report, for which more than 26,000 fourth graders were tested in around 1,500 schools last year, is unambiguous, even given the unbroken influence of the parental home on educational opportunities. Children from socio-economically better off families do significantly better than children from poorer families. The same applies to children with a migration background. The gap in educational disadvantage is therefore widening.

Education researcher Stanat is reluctant to explain the reasons for the poor results. From their point of view, however, the increased heterogeneity in the classrooms may have played a role. The proportion of children with a migration background was 38 percent in 2021 and thus 5 percentage points higher than in 2016. On the other hand, the after-effects of the pandemic should not be forgotten, according to Stanat.

“Of course the pandemic played a role,” said the President of the Conference of Ministers of Education (KMK), Karin Prien. The CDU politician does not want to blame the “sobering results” on that. “As a society, we must not accept these results,” Prien clarified. Each federal state must now deal in detail with the results of the IQB education trend.

According to Prien, the KMK now wants to develop proposals on how to improve the quality of primary schools. In December, the Standing Scientific Commission, commissioned by the KMK, will present an expert opinion with concrete recommendations for action. Prien announced that teacher training would also be put to the test.

Teachers Association warns

Overall, the reactions to the IQB study were violent. The head of the teachers’ association, Heinz-Peter Meidinger, described the results as “proof of an unchecked dramatic educational crash”. It is now high time to end the whitewashing phase and to take “a ruthless inventory”. If politics does not provide additional human resources, there is a risk of another crash in follow-up studies.

Anja Bensinger-Stolze, board member of the education trade union GEW, described the results of the education trend as “sobering and scandalous”. Now that the primary sector has been neglected in recent years is taking its revenge, says Bensinger-Stolze: “The ever-increasing shortage of teachers, unequal pay in the federal states, large classes, a lack of support systems, inadequate training – that’s not how you do the necessary Foundations for the future life of the children.”

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