Academic success in Bremen strongly depends on social background

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Image: DPA | Philip of Ditfurth

Children from poor families in Bremen often struggle to keep up with school. This is evidenced by the new math and German tests in fifth and seventh grade. But there are also bright spots.

The test results are not representative for the entire state of Bremen. However, Bremen Education Senator Sascha Aulepp (SPD) does not mince words: “There is nothing to sweeten: the results show a continuing need for action,” she says of the latest findings of the investigation into the situation of the learning (LALE), which the education department presented Thursday. The findings testified to a “social divide that must be bridged in society as a whole,” the senator said.

A total of 23 schools from Bremen and Bremerhaven participated in the tests on a voluntary basis at the beginning of the current school year. The focus was on the reading skills and text comprehension of the fifth and seventh graders in German, as well as on mathematical achievement levels. Nearly 3,500 boys and girls from 191 classes in Bremen and Bremerhaven were tested in two school periods. The test booklets were evaluated centrally.

Starting points of learning in class 5 unchanged despite Corona

“LALE 5” detects the specific performance level of students at the beginning of the 5th year. This time 21 schools participated. To enable schools to rank their results well, comparison groups were formed based on social indicators. These groups bring together students who attend schools with similar social backgrounds. The education department does not provide any information on which schools are specifically in which social class.

According to the department, the results indicate that – despite the Corona – in the areas tested the starting position at the beginning of the fifth grade has not deteriorated compared to previous years, but it has not improved either.

Ability to read and understand German texts

The results of reading and reading comprehension by students show that 75% of those with the highest social load do not meet the standard standards for the end of the fourth grade. 44 percent even remains below the minimum standard. These children have great difficulty reading and are not yet able to grasp a text as a whole.

achievements in mathematics

The picture is even bleaker in mathematics: 59 percent of socially disadvantaged students are below the minimum standard.

Progress in the “Lale Schools”

The education department points out as positive that school pupils who participated in the assessment of learning levels two years ago made significant progress: both in German and in mathematics. This affects socially disadvantaged students even more than well-off children, at least in Germany.

Performance increase in German

According to a point system of the so-called BISTA scale, a scale of measurement of educational standards, socially disadvantaged classes were able to earn 506 points in 2021 compared to 101 points in 2019. You should know that a difference of only 30 points in the LALE tests is considered a “significant difference,” says Carolin Richtering of the Institute for Quality Development in the State of Bremen (IQHB), which is responsible for evaluating the results.

According to the IQHB, the increase in student performance in reading and reading comprehension skills is mainly due to targeted measures that schools have achieved based on their 2019 test results. For example, these schools set additional reading hours and select other books.

performance gains in mathematics

In mathematics, the learning gains of students of all social levels are more or less the same. On the one hand, the IQHB attributes the increase in performance to the fact that the schools concerned have changed their learning concepts and intensified the exchange between them based on the test results.

On the other hand, about half of the LALE schools participated in the Bremen support program “Being able to do math safely”. This is a program that aims to fill existing learning gaps and thereby strengthen students’ basic understanding of mathematics.

This topic in the program:
Bremen Zwei, der Tag, 31 March 2022, 3:40 pm

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