German Students Stayed in School, in US Many Didn’t Finish

by Walter Antoniotti, Managing Our Educational Investment

In this article we will focus on education in Germany, the chief competitor to the U.S. for high value added exports.

In Germany, “These lower performers leave school [graduate] at 15 with a basic qualification, usually in practical skills.” Others go to their version of a U.S. junior college before going on to college or entering the work force where they become part of an apprentice system.

Wolfgang Nowak, a west German Social Democrat who led the school reforms, explains: “We wanted to lose the ideology, but keep the best of the old eastern system—the selective gymnasium for the academically minded, but also a bigger focus on the ‘middle schools’ for other pupils.” Crucially, he cut out the third-tier Hauptschulen schools for weak academic performers. “It’s terrible for integration, it’s terrible for results.” (The best Chinese schools, adds Sir Michael Barber, have also modified their obsession with high-fliers to ensure that they address the “long tail” of underachievement—something that hampers Britain’s performance, too.) [Alan Greenspan, who wants a peaceful proletariat, would be happy! See Experts Critique America’s Education ]

A recent improvement in Germany of sending students to secondary school at 13, instead of 11, improved results immensely, especially with the boys.  School ends at 1 PM with no provisions made for lunch.

So, do German students graduate because of “early out” and vocational programs?


The Great Schools Revolution, Economist Magazine, 17 September 2011

A Nation of Dropouts Shakes Europe, Charles Forelle, The Wall Street Journal, 25 March 2011