Bildungskrise – PISA and the German Educational Crisis

Author: Wolfgang Odendahl, National Taiwan University, Taiwan
Published: March 2017

Citation: Odendahl, W. (2017). Bildungskrise – PISA and the German Educational Crisis. IAFOR Journal of Education, 5(1).


After consistently bad results in every PISA test (Programme for International Student Assessment) and an accompanying prediction of lack of skills in its future workforce, Germany might be on track for losing out in international competition. Because of PISA’s overwhelming marketing presence, its results are a major political influence. The OECD PISA committee’s recommendations based on the results are challenging the fundamental structure of Germany’s three-tiered educational system, aiming to eliminate its segregational effects on social classes. In order to analyze PISA’s effects on German society from the angle of educational policy, this study compares the goals stated in its documentation with its effects on the public perception of Germany’s future workforce. Three fields of research are considered: Education as a concept for furthering society as a whole, assessment logic, and the educational system as a functional module of the nation state. The study will show that PISA’s test results are valid in indicating an urgent necessity to improve the teaching of basic skills, such as mathematics, reading, and writing. The interpretations of and recommendations based on these results, however, are reflecting a solely utilitarian view of educational systems as supplying human resources for industry.


PISA, Germany, schools, educational policy, shift of values