How do students reconcile education and life?

Performance goes to school

What is the goal of “Performance goes to school”?

The aim is to discover high-performing or potentially high-performing children and young people in all types of school at an early stage and to encourage them as best as possible. To this end, science and practice pull together: At 300 schools across Germany, teachers work with researchers to develop a school culture that promotes performance. That means: You develop and test pedagogical concepts and overarching strategies in accordance with the latest research results. Above all, it is about a commitment to performance and a rethinking in schools: competitive athletes have always been proud of their successes - why shouldn't that also be MINT talents and Co.?

Who and what is funded?

The target group of the initiative are pupils from the 1st to the 10th grade. With the newly developed instruments, they are particularly encouraged in the subjects of mathematics, German, the natural sciences and foreign languages.

In the course of the development of scientifically sound instruments for better diagnosis and support of high-performing students, the teaching staff and school management are continuously professionalized. The research association supports them in reflecting on themselves and their school culture again and again and in aligning them with the potentials and needs of the students. You will also be taught in cooperative collaboration with other teachers, e.g. B. for the joint preparation and follow-up of lessons.

The schools take part in at least two core modules: “Development of a school model” (core module 1) and “Encouraging and challenging in the classroom” (core module 2). These modules are designed in a practical manner by the research group financed by the BMBF and together with the schools. The instruments that have shown themselves to be particularly practical in the first phase will be prepared in such a way that they can be used by many other schools nationwide in the second phase. In the second phase, too, the BMBF is funding a group of scientists who actively help shape the transfer and provide scientific support.

In addition, in the first phase, the federal states are responsible for the design of two optional modules for diagnosis and counseling as well as support outside of regular lessons.

Why do we need the initiative?

Germany has some catching up to do when it comes to promoting high performers. Since the PISA shock in 2001, we have tended to take on the underperforming students. The consequence: There are countries, here in Europe too, in which, above all, the individual support of high-performing students in class is more successful than here. In Poland, Ireland and Bulgaria, for example, in the latest IGLU study, twice as many students achieve the top level (20 percent).

In the top Asian countries, the good results also have to do with the fact that social advancement has worked for centuries through education and has therefore been internalized over generations - unlike in our country, where this path is still comparatively new.

School education is a matter for the federal states: Why is the BMBF involved?

The federal government and the federal states agree that there is a need for improvement in funding for high-performing individuals. You therefore work closely with schools and researchers. Equal opportunities, participation and successful educational biographies are central educational policy goals of the Federal Government. Every child has the right to the best possible support - even if they are already performing. Since in Germany, compared to other countries, only a few children achieve top results in tests such as PISA or TIMSS, it is reasonable to assume that there must be high-performing children whose potential is not recognized and therefore not encouraged. These children are the target group of this initiative. Of course, the federal and state governments will continue to give special support to poorly performing children and young people, keyword: individual support - these are two sides of the same coin.

When is a student actually “high performing”?

In comparative educational studies such as PISA or TIMSS, “high achievers” are those children who reach the highest level of competence - that is, who achieve top grades. It is often the case that these children do not necessarily attract attention in class because they do not cause any "problems". They get along well, are good and need less attention than the weak - this is the popular misconception.

So is "Achievement Makes School" another program to support the gifted?

"Performance goes to school" is not about gifted people. The principle of the program is: Many children and young people have hidden talents. These just have to be discovered and promoted. Talent or aptitude does not only mean the visible performance - for example in the form of good grades or requests to speak. Rather, it is also about social skills and social commitment.

What financial resources do the federal and state governments contribute to the initiative and how much does the schools end up receiving?

The federal and state governments are funding the initiative with a total of 125 million euros over 10 years. Through the participation of the federal government, the schools receive up-to-date, scientifically-based expertise on the systematic promotion of talent in their pupils in regular lessons. The schools are closely monitored in their school development process and networked with other schools.

How can teachers discover potential?

Many schools already have successful support concepts, materials and strategies, but they do not get beyond the school gate. The aim of "Performance Makes School" is to recover these "treasures", to develop them further together with experts from science and to transfer them to schools throughout Germany.

  • Example of English lessons: Many tasks in class lead to very specific answers. For example, filling in the gaps in English classes leaves little room for creativity. Those who do everything right here have “only” learned vowels diligently. Complex tasks like writing political speeches are better. To do this, the students need to be particularly familiar with the topic. If they do not, it means: research the background, find arguments, organize and weight them, think about the addressees and much more. In short: you have to get creative - and show your talent.
  • Example math: In one of the research network schools, the students learn according to the modular concept. That means: You can learn independently, at your own pace and at your preferred level of difficulty. This means that some children are already finished with a module after a few weeks and want to write the class test - and others not. Those who are good and quick can work on subsequent topics from the next school year - or choose a topic that they enjoy.
  • Example of cooperation within a school: In many professions we now work in a team. Complex tasks require constructive cooperation - also in schools. The research network is dedicated to the scientific testing of methods for cooperative lesson development and how these can be integrated into everyday school life. The focus is on intensive exchange and close collegial cooperation with the aim of establishing "best practices" as to how (potentially) high-performing students can be better supported in the classroom.

How do the results of “Achievement Makes Schools” get to all schools in Germany?

In the second phase (2023-2027), the 300 schools involved in the first phase will become so-called multiplier schools: They bundle their knowledge in networks and, together with representatives of state institutes / quality institutions of the states, pass it on to schools that have not been involved so far. Up to 100 such networks are planned so far, in which up to ten new schools are to be active. When designing the transfer processes, the networks will be supported by a group of scientists.