Interview on school choice: “a good school takes everyone seriously”

Which school is the right one? This year, 4,000 fourth-grader families are faced with this question in Stuttgart again. Photo: Friedrike Grob

How do you find the right school? Important criteria for quality are their willingness to learn and their willingness to support weak and strong students, says educational researcher Ulrich Trautwein in an interview with StZ.

Stuttgart – How can you recognize a good school? This is a question that worries many parents of fourth graders again. Ulrich Trautwein says what to look out for. Quality is tangible. Are there better and worse schools? Yes there is. At least science can identify schools where students on average learn more than others.

The problem is: there are no comprehensive rankings, at least none that are publicly available. I agree. But one shouldn’t be sad about that. Rankings used in other countries are often imprecise. They show which schools are increasingly attracting good students, but only to a limited extent, in which schools the students learn a lot. Also: the effect of schools is surprisingly small. On the other hand, the teachers are having a disturbingly large effect.

But parents can hardly influence the teacher factor. But many parents try that – to the horror of the headmasters. Foresighted school principals therefore try to avoid giving a class too long a disputed teacher when allocating. In addition, improving the quality of teaching is high on their agenda for good school principals.

So teachers need to know how to teach well. How can parents find out the quality of teaching in a school when choosing a school? This is difficult. You can’t watch the lesson, there is no data. But there is evidence: if a school has a decent educational program in which lesson development plays a major role, that is an indication that the school has understood that teaching is central.

This can be determined by looking at the school’s homepage? Unfortunately there are good schools with bad homepages and bad schools with good homepages. But laypeople can at least see how important the subject of teaching quality is to the school. Does it appear under also ran, or has the school made it a priority?.

What can parents find out when they go to school? You can ask how the school handles the quality of teaching. Who is securing them? Does the school actively get feedback? Do colleagues visit each other in class? Do you prepare it together? Are you talking to each other? How strong is a school’s willingness to learn? Does the school get feedback from students and parents about what is going well or not in class? Parents who want to take a closer look can ask whether and which structures ensure that as little teaching time as possible is wasted and that teaching can take place in a structured manner and without many disruptions.

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