Politicians at State Level in Favour of Increasing Comparability in the Federal Education System


German education policy has so far been strongly federalist. The ministers of education have now concluded a state-level agreement to improve the comparability of school-leaving certificates and examinations, which will be presented to the minister presidents of the federal states. This decision is in line with the key results of a survey conducted by ZEW Mannheim between May and July 2020 among state parliamentarians in all 16 German states. According to the survey, the majority of the interviewed state parliamentarians (87 per cent) consider the comparability of student performance to be important. At 76 per cent, the majority of the respondents also support the reform proposal to introduce regular comparative tests. In addition, most of them would like the federal government to contribute more to the costs of education.

“The state-level agreement is a long overdue step towards a more uniform and comparable education policy in Germany. The comparability of educational outcomes is crucial in order to fully exploit the advantages of a federally organised education system and to foster competition for innovative approaches to knowledge and skills transfer. Our survey further reveals that although state politicians want public school policy to continue to be financed mainly by the federal states, they also would like the federal government to play a greater role in education in the future. However, important questions regarding how the new agreement will be implemented and whether all of its goals are binding still remain unanswered. Our survey results show that there is broad support among the interviewed politicians to improve comparability, which can be used to develop cutting-edge approaches for greater transparency,” says Sebastian Blesse, a researcher in the ZEW “Corporate Taxation and Public Finance” Department and co-author of the survey.