What do teachers often underestimate?

sueddeutsche.de: They show that 73 percent of secondary school students who had previously attended grammar school and had to "relegate" from there because of inadequate performance had previously been assessed by their elementary school as "suitable for grammar school". Then why did they fail?

Rainer Block: This is a problem in our school system. We presume to predict the performance of 10-year-old students. But this is not possible.

In some federal states, discussions are currently underway to abolish the right of parents to choose the type of school for their children and to make school recommendations compulsory.

Far fewer children fail because of their parents' excessive educational demands than because of incorrect assessments by teachers. The risk of being assigned to a school type that is too high is 24 times higher due to an incorrect primary school recommendation. If you were to remove parental voting rights, you would have no guarantee that there would be fewer dropouts - on the contrary.

sueddeutsche.de: So should parents alone decide?

Block: I am in favor of a communicative exchange. Parents perceive their child's performance potential differently than teachers and vice versa. You should try to get an overall picture, but ultimately leave the decision to the parents.

sueddeutsche.de: But not all parents support their children's school careers equally.

Block: In the transition phase after the fourth grade there is a strange amalgamation in our school system. On the one hand, the school recommendation results in a social selection. Students who perform at the same level will still receive different recommendations. This is because the teachers are also based on the educational level of the parents.

This social selection is reinforced by the voting behavior of the parents. Because parents from higher classes tend to disregard the school recommendation.

sueddeutsche.de: They only examined the dropouts. Certainly there are also students who were rated too low.

Block: The process does not work either way. The Pisa studies have shown that the competencies of the pupils differ greatly in the individual school types. There are high school students who are significantly better than the average high school student. There are also secondary school students who keep up with the performance of high school students in some subjects.

These students would therefore be able to succeed in a higher school form.

But with the school recommendation in the fourth grade, they are denied the chance of finding the type of school that suits them. Correcting this later is extremely difficult.

It can be classified as extremely problematic that fundamental educational and life plans are distributed in this way due to a selection process that is not reliable.