March 13, 2018

The educational expansion of qualifications in Germany: New phenomena change the meaning of qualification

Seminar with Dr. Wolfgang Lauterbach, University of Potsdam, Germany
Tuesday, March 13th, 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Ponderosa Commons Oak House, Room 2012

As in most western countries, Germany has experienced enormous expansion in the number of children who attend the secondary school and the vocational training system. As a consequence, we have witnessed a general increase in the educational levels of the population. For example, between 1900 and today, the average education level has increased from almost no education for the majority of the population to secondary level attainment for almost the entire population. In terms of generational succession, the average educational level of younger generations is higher than that of earlier generations.

In parallel with this development of increased levels of education, over the last two decades two important changes affecting the educational system have occurred: first, an increase of children who attend the shadow education system in addition to the regular school system; and second, an increase in high school grades.

Both developments have led to fundamental changes in earned school credentials in Germany. I will show that it is no longer sufficient just to have a high school diploma; rather, the quality of the credential measured by grades becomes more important. And second I will show that families face a new situation for their children; that is, competition for good grades among families during the secondary school period of their children gets stronger.