The German School System
Michele Smith
Dave Woodsome
German Kindergarten
• Its very hard to find a
place at a kindergarten.
• Parents usually ask about
kindergartens as soon as
their children are born.
• You can attend
kindergarten at the age of
3 until 6.
• Kindergartens are all day.
• In 1995 there were
500,000 kindergartens and
they were short 46,000
Volksschule (elementary school)
• It begins at 6 years
• Consists of 4 years.
(Grades 1-4)
• One main teacher who
teaches many subjects
and then usually 3
others(I.e. music, art,
and physical
They learn to read and write
Basic math
Social standards and values
HSU (Heimat und Sachunterricht) which
combines biology, history, and geography.
Time to Choose
• Age ten teachers and
parents choose
between 3
• The Hauptschule
• Realschule
• Or the Gymnasium
lowest-achieving students attend the Hauptschule.
slower paced and more basic instruction in the same primary academic
subjects taught at the Realschule and Gymnasium.
Additional subjects at the Hauptschule have a vocational orientation.
students enroll in the Hauptschule beginning in the fifth grade and
continue their education at the Hauptschule through the ninth grade.
About 25 percent of German students attend Hauptschulen.
The Realschule provides students with an education which combines both
liberal and practical education from the 5th through the 10th grade, but
the emphasis is on liberal education.
About 24 percent of German students are in Realschulen, and an
additional 7 percent are enrolled in combined Haupt/Realschulen called
The education focus of the Realschule is differentiated between the
Unterstufe (lower level), which incorporates the 5th, 6th, and 7th grades,
and the Oberstufe (upper level), which includes the 8th, 9th, and 10th
The lower level has a strong liberal arts emphasis, while the upper level is
more closely oriented to various disciplines.
The Gymnasium provides students with a liberal education and traditionally leads
to study at the university.
About 30 percent of German students are enrolled in Gymnasien.
Students may enroll in the Gymnasium at the lower secondary level (5th grade) or
may transfer to the Gymnasium after the completion of the Realschule (11th
The final 3 years of Gymnasium (grades 11-13 in most states) are called the
Oberstufe (upper level).
The three most common education tracks offered by standard Gymnasien are
classical language, modern language, and mathematics-natural science.
Students who successfully complete study at a Gymnasium (or Berufliches
gymnasium) and pass the comprehensive examinations receive the Abitur.
Known as comprehensive schools
Arose out of a social movement in the 1960's that promoted the idea of
equal access to education for everyone, and it is the school form most like
public schools in the United States.
Most are located in states that have been governed by the Social
Democratic Party.
Gesamtschulen enroll students of all ability levels in the 5th through the
10th grades. Students who satisfactorily complete the Gesamtschule
through the 9th grade receive the Hauptschule certificate, while those who
satisfactorily complete schooling through the 10th grade receive the
Realschule certificate.
Grading and Examinations
The grading scale used throughout the German education system
ranges from 1—6. (A "6" is the equivalent of a failing grade).
Teachers are permitted to add a plus or minus in parentheses to
provide further differentiation.
1 = very good
2 = good
3 = satisfactory
4 = adequate
5 = poor
6 = very poor
• Winter and Spring Semesters
• 9 semesters
• 4th semester you take a test and if you pass
you can continue your major
• You have to complete an internship in your
major in order to graduate.
• Each state has a university.
Gerhart Hoffmeister and Frederic C. Tubach,
Germany: 2000 Year. From the Nazi Era to
German Unification (New York: Ungar
Publishing, 1992), 159-179.
Milotich, Ute E. The Educational System in
Germany: Case Study Findings. Washington, DC:
US Department of Education, 1999.

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