The German School System

IMG_9678I have been curious about the German school system in the past, so I started asking my German teacher and German friends more about it. They explained how it is similar to and how it differs from the American system. I find the topic interesting and thought I would share some of my new found insights with you!

  1. German children start kindergarten at age three and continue until age five. It is not mandatory and not free, but 2/3 of children attend because their parents are working. There is no such thing as Preschool.
  2. Elementary school starts at age six, and continues until through age ten. Children have GPAs at this age, because by fifth grade they must decide which of the three schools to attend to further their education. Parents, teachers, and grades confer to determine whether they attend:
    • Hauptschule- the lowest level of school that lasts 6th through 9th grade. They learn most of the same subjects as the other schools, but at a slower, simpler pace. Once they graduate from this school, they can learn a trade, apprentice, intern, or simply enter the working world.
    • Realschule- This is the second highest level, and lasts 6th through 10th grade. If they have high enough grades, they can transfer up to the next level, called Gymnasium, or learn a trade, apprentice, intern, or enter the working world.
    • Gymnasium- Gymnasium lasts 6th through 13th grade (age 18 or 19), and is the highest level. Students in Gymnasium are working towards their Abitur, the diploma they need to attend university. Only students who earn this can move to higher education. The Abitur marks completion of all required classes as well as  high marks on intensive examinations (similar to the SAT or ACT).
  1. The grade scale in German schools is 1-5, 1.0 being the best and 5.0 being the worst.
  2. Students in Gymnasium learn a minimum of two languages.
  3. The German government supports all public universities, and students can attend for around 200 Euros a semester.

I hope this cleared up any uncertainties you may have had about the German school system. There are certain things I prefer about their system, and certain things I prefer about ours. What are your thoughts on international education? Does the subject fascinate you, or is it just me?!


6 thoughts on “The German School System

  1. Good morning Micah. I have been fascinated by the German system for years because of all the people we have met over the years from Germany. My question has always been about deciding the fate/future of students at such an early age. An American worldview concern would be about “choice” and options. However, I also understand that they have worked on this system for hundreds of years and have cultural expectations about their kids decisions at an earlier age. I feel the cultural tension in this discussion.

    Let’s just say that my grades in high school would not have allowed me to go to college…Dad

  2. It is a subject that definitely fascinates me! Thank you for clarifying it this way. I had dinner with Luke last night and it was a wonderful time together. Much love, Grandma Susan ________________________________________

  3. It is very interesting how other school systems work in other countries. Thanks for posting. I’m not sure how I could decide at so young an age my child’s future occupation and direction. Hmmm.

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