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Disparities in the German Education System: Causes and Impacts on Turkish Student Achievement

Mackenzie Lamb, Dr. Seth Murray, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, North Carolina State University, 10 Current Drive, Raleigh NC 27607

Scholars have identified significant disparities in the academic achievement of Turkish students and their peers of German heritage in the German school system. Although this gap is widely recognized, it is necessary to pinpoint contributing factors to make changes that ensure students of immigrant backgrounds reach their full academic potential. This research examines literature that discusses the structure of the German school system, parental educational achievement of immigrant students, and challenges associated with learning German as a second language. These three lenses, coupled with case studies of Turkish students’ educational experiences at the primary and secondary levels, provide insight into the difficulties faced by Turkish students in the German school system. These obstacles contribute to Turkish students’ poor performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment and disproportionately high representation in the lowest level of German secondary schools, the Hauptschule. Without the opportunity to pursue mid-level vocational training through a Realschule or tertiary education through a Gymnasium, Turkish immigrants frequently work as Arbeiter, hourly laborers. Native Germans more frequently fill the Angestellte role, salaried employees in permanent positions. Identifying sources of educational disparities provides the foundation for changes to the German school system that will improve academic performance and career trajectories of immigrant students. In the short-term, these changes can include recruitment of Turkish teachers and bias training for new and existing teachers. Longer-term, higher-impact recommendations include placing students on academic tracks at a later age or eliminating tracking, as well as additional research to understand students’ experiences in German as a Second Language classes and identify steps to overcome limited parental education. 




Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Mackenzie Lamb

Institution: NC State University

Type: Poster

Subject: Interdisciplinary Studies

Status: Approved


Time and Location

Session: Poster 8
Date/Time: Tue 5:00pm-6:00pm
Session Number: 5515