Socioeconomic Inequality and Student Outcomes in German Schools

  • Horst EntorfEmail author
  • Maddalena Davoli
Part of the Education Policy & Social Inequality book series (EPSI, volume 4)


The poor performance of Germany in PISA 2000, in terms of both average and dispersion, stimulated a heated public debate and a strong policy response. The government reacted to the low average and remarkable disparities registered by the test and spurred reforms that led to a significant improvement in the country’s educational performance and to a reduction of the gap between children from advantaged and disadvantaged educational backgrounds. Still, between-group achievement inequalities persist within the country. This chapter first discusses the relative development of PISA scores since 2000, and gives a description of existing socioeconomic characteristics and inequalities, with particular attention paid to migratory backgrounds. We also analyze the importance of SES backgrounds, language deficits, and cultural possessions and further explain the characteristics of students’ achievements. Second, the chapter provides an overview of the national educational system and addresses important policy reforms following the PISA shock in 2000. We focus on specific features of the country, namely, the large proportion of students with an immigration background and the early selection of pupils into secondary school tracks, and we discuss the role of school streaming as a driver of inequality at school.


Student achievement Socioeconomic status Inequality Germany 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Goethe UniversityFrankfurtGermany

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