Feb 9, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

Germany's progress in leveling the academic playing field bears recognition.

A new report published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that students from non-academic families in Germany are succeeding in school, despite historical data that predicts otherwise.

While success in school in Germany largely depends on family background, a growing number of students are succeeding.

In a recent article in Deutsch Welle or DW, Germany's international broadcaster, Andreas Schleicher, the director for education and skills at the OECD said, "Where you come from has significant influence on how successful you're going to be with your education in Germany, a lot more than elsewhere in Europe."

The OECD's research compared students from different countries as per their resilience, defined by the ability of 15-year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds to perform on the PISA, a standardized test in reading, mathematics, and science.

Typically, the OECD average for resilient students is 25 percent. What does that mean? It means that about a fourth of students whose parents don't have a college degree or those students who grew up in homes without books do well on the PISA.

The results in Germany were different. Close to one-third of disadvantaged students in Germany perform at resilient levels or higher on the PISA.

Why? The OECD found that in Germany two factors contributed to their success: a mix of students from different social backgrounds and a positive learning environment. This includes low student-teacher ratios, minimal teacher turnover, and all-day schools with group projects and after-school activities.

Learn more about studying in Germany



Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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