Kindergarten teachers protest against bad working conditions (in German)
Der Standard (11 June 2012)
On Monday, June 11, kindergarten teachers demonstrated against their working conditions. They pointed to the problem of different closing times within federal states, large teacher-student ratios, inadequate salaries, small classrooms, and too little time for preparation, extracurricular work and time with parents as policies that need to be addressed. Of particular note was how large class sizes create a problem in inclusive teaching settings. Moreover, Maria Zeilinger, a member of the occupation group for early childhood educators, says that individual learning cannot be provided under current group conditions.
Language training program to be extended
The Ministry of Education (25 May 2012)
Since the 2006-2007 school year, students with a first language other than German have participated in language training courses at school. These courses have been offered to groups of more than eight (8) students for eleven (11) hours per week. For this purpose, the Government has provided 440 posts, equivalent to 9,500 hours of work and costing €23.9 million (approx. $30 million). Because evaluations have indicated the program’s positive impact, the Austrian government will invest a further €47.8 million (approx. $60 million) in the project up to 2014.
Integrative vocational education has positive impact
Dornmayr, H. Institut für Bildungsforschung der Wirtschaft (Institute for Research on Qualifications and Training of the Austrian Economy) (April 2012)
In 2003, the Austrian Government introduced a measure called “integrative vocational education” to allow students with disabilities or any other kind of disadvantage to choose adapted forms of apprenticeships. A recent study shows that the measure is having a positive impact for the students concerned and is promoting their integration into the job market. According to the report, 52% of students remained in their jobs following their integrative vocational education, and a further 10% changed to another apprenticeship. Although 22% of students are unemployed and 8% are engaged in job center skills development, 23% of the drop-outs found a new integrative apprenticeship opportunity shortly after dropping out. The study also reveals that business apprenticeships have been more effective than inter-company vocational training.
Governor of Austrian province suggests including PISA results in students’ general grades
(17 April 2012)
In order to increase student motivation for PISA tests, Josef Pühringer, the Governor of the Province of Upper Austria, suggests including PISA test results in students’ general grades. He believes this would lead to higher test scores because the problem with Austria’s PISA results, in his view, is one of student motivation rather than weak student knowledge and competences. (Find more about Austria’s performance on PISA in relation to other nations here and here.)
Majority against the idea that schools should start later
(5 April 2012)
The usual starting time for schools in Austria is 8 a.m. Education expert Andreas Salcher, also a former Austrian politician, argues that children cannot concentrate at such an early time and demands a later start. However, a recent poll among Austrian citizens reveals that 69 percent are against postponing the start of the school day to 9 a.m. and the president of the school inspectors points to the fact that working parents will face severe problems if school starts later. The Minister of Education indicates that the idea can be discussed among school partners, but for the time being is not being addressed in the Ministry.
Fuss over a standardized school leaving exam
(10 March 2012)
Austria will introduce a reform to standardize the important Grade 12 school leaving exam (known as the Matura) which allows students to enroll in universities. The reform increases the minimum passing grade to answering 60 percent of the test correctly. The minimum passing score had been 50 percent. Because of the higher minimum passing grade, many students have failed the exam pre-test. Teachers are also protesting the law, insisting that it reduces their freedom in examining their students. The Ministry of Education, however, argues that the reform will ensure quality, objectivity, fairness and comparability to the Matura.