St. Polten, Austria – In Austria, children attend “Primary” schools for grades one through four. At the end of the fourth grade, when children are 10 years of age, a determination is made as to whether children will move on to the “Gymnasium,” an academic program, or a vocational school where they will learn a trade. Approximately one third of the students pursue the academic route, while the rest pursue vocational courses. This is typical of most European countries we have visited.
We were greeted at the St. Polten Gymnasium by Director Sylvia Klimek who runs the five-12 school. The lower grade (5-8) students take five classes, while the older grade (9-12) students take eight classes. The older students can opt to be in one of four tracks: languages, art, science or sports.
Although there are obvious differences in how their schools are organized compared to our students in the U.S., we did discover that we both dislike having to teach to the tests required by the federal/national governments.
Austrian schools adhere to a national curriculum and administer national assessments. Religion is actually taught in the predominantly Catholic country, but other religions have to be taught as well if there are students of that religion attending the school.
Tomorrow we’ll share our visit about the Primary school.
Dan Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, is blogging throughout AASA’s International Seminar Delegation in Austria.