Status: 07.12.2023, 23:30 p.m.
By: Steffen Maas
While Germany is experiencing a Pisa slap, Austria is coming off well. But there is one aspect that is worrying. A school principal sees a problem in migrant households.
Vienna – A new educational earthquake has reached Germany: The Federal Republic of Germany has performed catastrophically poorly in the current Pisa study. Neighbouring Austria, on the other hand, fares much better. But one aspect of the study is also bringing the discussion about education policy to a boil there: In the Alpine republic, pupils with a migrant background perform conspicuously worse in the tests. A school principal is now holding fathers and mothers at home accountable.
Pisa Study Sparks Debate on Language in Migrant Households in Austria
"It's all about attitude," says Christian Klar, headmaster of a Viennese school with a special focus. "It's about being willing to do without Turkish film at home" and instead "reading books in German, reading newspapers in German," the local politician told Austrian Radio (ORF).
An Austrian school principal urges parents to offer their children less foreign-language television and more German-language reading. (Symbolic image) © Jesús Hellín/dpa
Principal Klar therefore sees the responsibility first and foremost in the households. Parents should show their willingness to implement this German-language reading focus and also demand it from their children, as he explained in the ORF format "Zeit im Bild 2".
With his demand, the secondary school principal reacts to the findings of the Austrian Pisa results. It is striking that pupils with a migrant background have greater gaps with their classmates without a migration background than in the other European countries in the study. In maths, for example, students who are only the first or second generation to live in Austria scored more than ten percent less.
|Austrian pupils ...
|Score (Subject: Mathematics)
|... without a migration background
|... Migration 2nd generation
|... Migration 1nd generation
"Reality looks very different": Education expert laments system failure in schools
Entrepreneur and author Ali Mahlodji would take a different approach. The EU Youth Ambassador complained to the ORF that in Austrian schools there was too much of a gap between aspirations and reality: "The education system assumes that they sit down, they can do everything, they understand everything, you just teach them something within 45 minutes. That's it."
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"The reality of the world and society is quite different," emphasizes the education expert. Through hundreds of school and classroom visits, he has gained closer insights. Teachers overwhelmed by the "system failure" would have problems meeting the various needs of pupils with a migrant background, disabilities or long-term illnesses. "We've noticed in recent years that [these students] aren't seen in this system."
In a European comparison: Performance of Austrian pupils suffers less after Corona
However, the Austrian Minister of Education, Martin Polaschek, would prefer to focus on the positive. The expected drop in performance after the coronavirus crisis was reflected in the results of the neighbouring country to a much lesser extent than elsewhere. Austria lost "only" 12 points in mathematics (OECD average: -17 points) and only 4 points in reading (OECD average: -11 points). In the natural sciences, one point was gained, while an average of 4 points were lost.
What is the Pisa study?
PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) is the largest international school performance study. Almost 700,000 students from 81 countries and regions took part in 2022. The PISA study takes place every three years and covers the areas of literacy, mathematics and science. In each case, one of the three areas alternately forms the focal point. (Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)
"Overall, the results of the study are quite encouraging," Polaschek underlined in a press conference on Tuesday (5 December). They show that the education system has taken the right path, "and that is why we will continue to pursue it."