Should primary schools be separated by IQ

Gifted students: better support in regular lessons - or in special classes? Politics argues

BERLIN. What to do with the annoying schoolchild when it is actually particularly bright? Education policy is increasingly giving thought to the promotion of gifted children. A long-term study shows: Special high-flyer classes are often useful, but insulation is not a must. A political dispute over the best funding is now boiling up.

Two out of a hundred students in Germany are considered highly gifted with an intelligence quotient of 130 or more. Around ten percent have an IQ of 120, which is also clearly above average. For parents and teachers, but also for the high-flyers, this can be a blessing or a curse. Outstanding talent for learning is often overshadowed by insufficient demands in class, refusal to perform due to boredom and difficult social behavior. What to do if the mini-Einstein is annoying as a fidget?

For such problematic children, special support classes are a noticeable help, as it were, the silver bullet through an otherwise often dreary school time, as a new long-term study confirms. However, pure gifted classes are not a dogma for the education system. Because isolation support is not a must, there are options for gifted support even in normal school operations. Many very intelligent children can get along anywhere anyway - precisely because they are very intelligent.

“If a gifted child doesn't get along well with their behavior in primary school, they have a better chance of success in a gifted class. But if there were no problems at all in elementary school, Potte will almost certainly also occur in a regular class. " The developmental psychologist Prof. Wolfgang Schneider from the University of Würzburg summarizes a central result of his comparative study with initially around 1000 and finally around 600 pupils from high schools in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg.

The study should also be of interest to all those who started a new cross-party break for high-performance students at the Conference of Ministers of Education of the 16 federal states last year. The last time the red-red-green department heads were in February and their Union colleagues in December were of course again at competing conferences on the topic, which is burdened by educational ideology.

The CDU / CSU are placing more emphasis on promoting a kind of elite, their goal is “more equal opportunities” - this time for excellent students. The spokesman for the red-green education ministers, Hamburg's Senator Ties Rabe (SPD), feels for his part confirmed by the long-term study: “Promoting the gifted must become a standard task in every school and in every single class. Pure gifted classes offer no advantages for gifted students. On the contrary: Such separate classes carry the risk that gifted students will not be promoted in the regular classes and that many students will not receive proper support. "

In the southern federal states - one ruled by the CSU, the other green-black - the gifted area has been expanded, says Schneider in an interview. Namely «to around 20 classes, on a scale that also makes sense. Other countries could certainly follow suit. " But the scientist also emphasizes: “You don't have to overdo it. Not every high school needs a gifted class. " Particularly intelligent students do not have to keep to themselves - other funding channels could also lead to the goal.

Three years ago, when PULSS was first presented in Würzburg (project to study learning in secondary schools), it sounded even clearer: “Special classes for highly gifted high school students have clear advantages. Wherever there is a sufficient population - especially in large cities - their facility is recommended. " In 2013, Bavaria's CSU Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs, Ludwig Spaenle, cheered particularly loudly: The minister commented on the PULSS-I results at the time, “compared to above-average students in regular classes,” the minister said.

That is still true, says psychologist Schneider today, according to current studies up to the tenth grade. “In principle, we still have the same trends. Even with the class atmosphere and recognition within the class, gifted classes have advantages over regular classes. " A high level of parent and teacher satisfaction with teaching in special classes also has a positive effect, according to Schneider. And there are indications that “the gifted classes are particularly successful in addressing girls' interests in mathematics”.

The educational researcher - also head of a gifted psychological counseling center in Würzburg - advises parents not to wait long if they are “suspected” of a highly intelligent child. “It is very useful to clarify this relatively early on - also to avoid that false expectations are aroused and that a child is overwhelmed in the end. So best before the start of school, when a high level of talent is already apparent in kindergarten. "

The countries responsible for school education are increasingly gearing themselves towards such «customers». Baden-Württemberg has a state high school for gifted students. In Berlin there are profile classes with special needs, very capable students are allowed to switch to grammar school earlier. Rhineland-Palatinate offers highly gifted schools and options to skip a class. And Hamburg has a coordinator for the topic at all secondary schools. SPD Senator Rabe says: "We have intensified further training and focused teacher training more on promoting talented people." By Werner Herpell, dpa

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