Performance appraisal (school)

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The performance appraisal of students by teachers takes place as an evaluation of individual performances (oral contributions, homework , presentations , written performance records , final exams, etc.), which are periodically summarized in certificates . The assessment is usually carried out numerically with a nationally specified metric as a school grade or partially in special schools (or in the integration or inclusion in mainstream schools ), in the first years of school and in Waldorf schools as a report in text form.

Like any other performance appraisal , grading in school is a responsible activity that can have serious consequences. It is therefore subject to detailed legal regulations and can be contested through administrative legal channels. It is not checked whether the grade is appropriate, but whether it was given in accordance with the regulations. In Germany, school performance assessment is sometimes viewed as a sovereign act , which is used to justify the civil service relationship for teachers in some federal states.

Legal regulations


In Germany, the regulation of performance assessment, as part of school law , falls within the competence of the federal states . Grades are determined in the respective subject by the teaching teacher on the basis of the assessed performance, taking into account the educational discretion . The purely arithmetic calculation of grades does not do justice to the diversity of students and is expressly undesirable in some federal states.

A basic distinction is made between written services and other services . Written performance is assessed by means of a specified number of announced class work or exams. Other services include oral participation in lessons and all other subject-related services, such as B. presentations, project work, etc. Unannounced written and oral performance reviews are also included in the other services. Homework is not allowed to be graded in Germany.

Due to the student's duty to provide evidence of performance, refused performance will be assessed as unsatisfactory. In the case of underperformance in several subjects, the learning success in the next higher grade level is not guaranteed and the school year usually has to be repeated.

Each federal state is empowered to make its own guidelines, ordinances and laws regarding performance assessment. This was regulated accordingly differently:


In Bavaria , the framework conditions for the criteria and procedures for performance assessment and assessment are set out in Article 52 of the Bavarian Law on Education and Training (BayEUG). However, a detailed definition does not take place in the form of a general ordinance on school conditions, as in Hesse, but in separate ordinances for each type of school (Art. 52 Para. 1 Clause 2), for example through the school regulations for high schools in Bavaria ( GSO ).

Article 52 BayEUG also provides the following framework conditions:

  • Evidence of performance must be carried out at "appropriate intervals" (Paragraph 1, Clause 1)
  • Depending on the type of subject, written, oral or practical work is required (Paragraph 1, Sentence 1)
  • The students must be informed in advance of the manner in which their performance will be assessed (Paragraph 1, Clause 3)
  • the grade level is to be announced together with a reason (para. 1, sentence 3)
  • Evidence of performance is used to evaluate performance and as a basis for advice (Paragraph 1, Clause 4)
  • grades 1 (very good) to 6 (unsatisfactory) are set. The school regulations can stipulate exceptions (Paragraph 2)
  • "Certificates are issued taking into account the individual written, oral and practical work" (Paragraph 3, Sentence 1)

The review of the correction made by the subject teacher by the respective subject supervisor is referred to as respect .


In Hesse , Section 73 of the Schools Act contains very general framework conditions and empowers the Ministry of Education to regulate the criteria and procedures for performance assessment and assessment by means of a statutory ordinance, which is contained in Sections 26-36 (fifth part: criteria and procedures for performance assessment and assessment) of the ordinance happened to shape the school relationship. According to these standards, the performance assessment and evaluation

  • measure the knowledge and skills imparted in class;
  • to lean on or against something
  • relate to the overall learning development of students;
  • present the technical abilities, knowledge and skills as well as the motivation and behavior of the students;
  • take into account the course of learning development.

She should:

  • are in the service of individual performance education ; and
  • Open up an encouraging perspective for further development for students.

This extensive legal provision reflects the educational and socially complex functions of school grades.

For the evaluation of work and social behavior see top notes .

While teachers largely enjoy pedagogical freedom in assessing oral and practical performance , written performance assessments are subject to detailed legal provisions. See also written proof of achievement in school .

At the beginning of a school year, pupils and their parents should be informed of the criteria according to which the performance evaluation is carried out. Before the certificate conferences, the grades should be justified by the specialist teaching staff. In addition, the students are to be informed about their oral proficiency at least once every six months.

Lower Saxony

In Lower Saxony , the provisions on performance measurement and performance appraisal are regulated in various decrees, partly with reference to the individual school type (such as in "Working in grades 5 to 10 of the Gymnasium", Section 6) and in general decrees, in particular in "Certificates in the general education schools ”, Section 3 and“ Written work in the general education schools ”.

Performance assessment takes place on the basis of observations in the classroom as well as oral, written (class work; exams) and other subject-specific learning controls . The general school grades are used for the assessment . The schools are free to decide on a gradation in intermediate grades (“+” or “-”) in class work, but not in exams or certificates.

North Rhine-Westphalia

In North Rhine-Westphalia, the School Act, Part Fifth, Section Two, Performance Assessment, § 48 of the principles of performance assessment is laid down:

(1) The performance evaluation should provide information about the status of the student's learning process; it should also be the basis for further support for the student. The achievements are assessed by means of grades. The training and examination regulations can stipulate that written statements take the place of grades or supplement them.

(2) The performance evaluation relates to the knowledge, skills and abilities imparted in the classroom. The performance evaluation is based on all of the work performed by the pupil in the “Written work” and “Other classroom achievements” evaluation area. Both assessment areas and the results of central learning status surveys are appropriately taken into account in the performance assessment.

(3) The assessment of performance is based on the following grades:

  1. very good (1) The grade “very good” should be given if the performance meets the requirements in particular.
  2. good (2) The grade “good” should be awarded if the performance fully meets the requirements.
  3. satisfactory (3) The grade “satisfactory” should be awarded if the performance generally meets the requirements.
  4. Sufficient (4) The grade “sufficient” should be given if the performance shows deficiencies but still meets the requirements as a whole.
  5. unsatisfactory (5) The grade “unsatisfactory” should be awarded if the performance does not meet the requirements, but shows that the necessary basic knowledge is available and the deficiencies can be remedied in the foreseeable future.
  6. unsatisfactory (6) The grade “unsatisfactory” should be given if the performance does not meet the requirements and even the basic knowledge is so incomplete that the deficiencies cannot be remedied in the foreseeable future.

(4) If performance is not provided for reasons for which the pupil is not responsible, evidence of performance can be made up in accordance with the training and examination regulations and the performance level can be determined by an examination.

(5) If a pupil refuses to perform, this will be assessed as unsatisfactory.

(6) In addition to or instead of the grades according to Paragraph 3, the training and examination regulations can provide for a point system. The grade and point system must be mutually convertible.


In Austria, the performance appraisal regulation governs Ministry of Education 371/1974, the central assessment by the teachers with the order of the Minister of Education and Art of 24 June 1974 on the assessment in compulsory schools as well as middle and high schools (performance appraisal regulation) in BGBl. No.

In § 3 (1) forms of performance assessment are described, in § 14 (1) to (7) the grades:

  1. Very good (1) “Very good” is the assessment of performance with which the student fulfills the requirements set in accordance with the curriculum in terms of recording and applying the subject matter and performing the tasks to a degree that goes far beyond the essentials where possible, shows clear independence or the ability to independently apply his knowledge and skills to tasks that are new to him.
  2. Good (2) "Good" is the assessment of performance with which the student fulfills the requirements set out in the curriculum in terms of the recording and application of the curriculum and in performing the tasks to an extent that goes beyond the essentials and where this is possible to show noticeable approaches to independence or, with appropriate guidance, the ability to apply his knowledge and skills to tasks that are new to him.
  3. Satisfactory (3) “Satisfactory” is the assessment of performance with which the student fully fulfills the requirements set out in the curriculum in terms of the recording and application of the subject matter and in performing the tasks in the essential areas; In doing so, deficiencies in the implementation are compensated for by noticeable approaches to independence.
  4. Sufficient (4) “Sufficient” is the assessment of performance with which the student largely fulfills the requirements set out in the curriculum in terms of recording and applying the subject matter and performing the tasks in the essential areas.
  5. Insufficient (5) “Insufficient” is to be assessed as performance with which the student does not even meet all the requirements for the assessment with “Sufficient” (Paragraph 5).

In addition (Paragraph 7): In the elementary school, the special school and the new middle school, the class forum or the school forum can decide that a written explanation is to be added to the assessment of the performance by means of grades.

A very clear grid of these grades can be found in an explanation of the Ministry of Education in Vienna "Information sheets on school law Part 3" S 21

The "Austrian Center for Personality Development and Social Learning" ÖZEPS also publishes a downloadable teacher brochure for a "Supportive performance assessment"

Function of performance evaluation

Various functions are assigned to performance evaluation:

  • feedback
  • socialization
  • comparison
  • forecast
  • Allocation
  • legitimation
  • selection

Every achievement that can be assessed can also be assessed in the form of grades. However, the functions of performance evaluation cannot be fully transferred to the functions of grades.

Forms of performance appraisal

"The teachers usually assess the performance of their students according to a combination of content- related standards and the class average ." ( ULICH 2001 ) There are three different reference norms :

  • Criteria-oriented reference norm as learning objectives or content criteria
  • social reference norm (comparison with other people)
  • individual reference norm - personal performance development.

There are different forms with which the performance can be documented. These can be divided into so-called traditional and alternative evaluation options.

Among the traditional valuation options include:

  • Assessment according to A, B, C (currently used in primary school)
  • Word opinions
  • Word expertise accompanying digit notes
  • Numeric notes.

The alternative evaluation options, however, include:

  • regular reports in text form to parents
  • Learning development report
  • Self-evaluation by the student
  • Observation by other students
  • Allocation of ranks within a certain norm sample (e.g. class, year)
  • Portfolio
  • Learning diary
  • Assessment sheet
  • Learning talk
  • cooperative performance appraisal.

The list does not claim to be complete. It can also be supplemented by the fact that it is up to each teacher to choose and implement their own strategies when evaluating their students. It is his duty to take both written and oral performance into account. The abundance of possibilities for performance evaluation has led to a discussion about the meaning and purpose as well as the task of this. Above all, the numerical grade is compared with the verbal assessment. These are also considered to be the two most popular forms of performance evaluation in school.

Function of notes

Grades are intended to fulfill various educational and social functions:

Educational functions


  • Grades should help the students to perceive their weaknesses and strengths and thus to build a realistic self-image;
  • Grades should give the teacher an overview of the teaching and learning success and serve to develop a concept for the further didactic procedure;
  • Grades should enable a comparison of performance with the other children in the class;

Motivation function:

  • Good grades should motivate you to maintain or expand your success;
  • Bad grades are intended to motivate people to correct existing deficits;

Report function:

  • Grades should inform the parents about the performance level of their child

Social functions

  • Control function:
    grades and certificates should make compliance with compulsory schooling and the effects of school policy, organizational and educational measures transparent.
  • Authorization function:
    grades document and legitimize the educational activities of the teachers vis-à-vis authorized third parties (e.g. the school inspectorate ).
  • Allocation or selection function:
    The allocation of grades allows training and workplaces or access authorizations to be allocated according to performance, on the assumption that suitability is mapped.

Top notes

Top notes include a behavioral assessment. The type of top notes and whether and in which school years they are used changed over time.

For example, the top notes used to include:

  • Overall behavior
  • Be
  • Diligence
  • order
  • Cooperation

In many federal states there are currently so-called top notes in the areas of work behavior and social behavior.

Examples of behavioral assessment are:

Work behavior
  • Motivation
  • reliability
  • Concentration and perseverance
  • interest
  • independence
  • Teamwork
Social behavior
  • Willingness to take responsibility
  • Ability to cooperate
  • communication
  • Conflict behavior

Grades versus certificates

It is controversial whether the performance appraisal through grades promotes the achievement of the educational goals of the school. However, it is widely accepted that feedback from the school must take place in some form. Most of the time it is only disputed whether freely formulated reports should be used instead of numerical grades, as in Waldorf or special schools. Their information content can be classified as significantly higher, but the comparability of the certificates decreases due to the increased complexity. Critics of the certificates also argue that the assessment of performance through texts is in practice only made through a number of corresponding text modules, which ultimately correspond to the numerical grades.

Education policy implications

The form of grading is closely related to two other fundamental questions of the school system : the possibility of staying seated and the division of very young students into different types of schools. A structured school system, as in the German-speaking countries, can only be justified if the prognosis of intelligence and productivity made at the age of ten can be corrected in the further course of schooling. Because it is initially assumed that poor performance is only of a temporary nature, the change of school is preceded by non-transfer.

International comparison

As an empirical argument against grade certificates, the Scandinavian countries are often referred to, which regularly do very well in school performance comparisons and which do without grades and numerical certificates up to the eighth grade . Although this does not prove a causal relationship, it does show that comprehensive schools can be efficient without grades . Some Asian countries are named as empirical counterexamples, which also do extremely well in the comparisons with a structured school system and comparable grading system. The underlying school system can thus be ruled out as the cause.

In Scandinavian schools, the number of teachers per pupil is significantly higher and the overload of teachers is less common. Many Asian cultures place a significantly higher value on the education and training of their children, which means that there is a much greater willingness to perform among students. Some see this in a negative sense as high pressure to perform.

It is therefore questionable whether grades even play a role in the results of these tests. Rather, smaller classes, the better promotion of underperforming students, motivated, not overburdened teachers and the appreciation of school and education seem to be the decisive points.

Empirical situation in Germany

In Germany, some experimental schools, such as the Bielefeld Laboratory School, create “reports on the learning process” instead of grade certificates; accompanying studies have come to a positive assessment.

The waiver of grades is a key point in the pedagogy of some non-state schools, for example the Waldorf schools .

In German primary schools , certificates of assessment were introduced to varying degrees in the 1970s, depending on the federal state. In the 1990s, grades were reintroduced in upper elementary school grades (to varying degrees depending on the country). Here, too, there is an educational policy connection with the question of whether the recommendation made by the elementary school for a secondary school should be binding (as in Bavaria) or whether the parents may ignore it at will.

Drafting of certificates

Report certificates pursue the same goals as grade certificates, but they allow a greater degree of individualization and an increased information content. The differences in quality between certificates with censorship-related statements (for example, “Participation in class: satisfactory” or “NN. Did not always participate regularly in class”) and more individual learning reports are educationally relevant. Such a more individual report would then have to show situational boundary conditions under which the participation of the pupils in the classroom increased or decreased.

Arguments for and against grades

Implications of the Objectivity Claim

Grades suggest to a far greater extent than individually formulated reports a quantitative comparability of the assessed performance (“Why is NN one step better than me?”) And can thus lead to an increase in motivation or pressure to perform.

Since permanently bad grades tend to hinder performance, this can have a negative effect on general motivation and psychological dispositions.

Practical critics do not want to abolish grades, but restrict them to higher grades. They mostly aim to protect younger students from pressure to perform, but accept the lack of feedback and motivation to perform. Elementary school pedagogue Hans Brügelmann came to the conclusion in a report from 2006: "Schoolchildren do not need general assessments , but differentiated feedback ..." .

Reproducibility and assessment criteria

Against school grades it is argued that grades in practice do not do justice to their inherent claim to objectivity. Often it was concluded from the poor reproducibility of grades that the awarding of grades was largely controlled by chance or arbitrariness and was therefore unjust. A Germany-wide study from 1999 was cited as an example, in which the same German essay and the same maths work were assessed by different teachers with grades between “very good” and “poor”. Over 1000 teachers from secondary schools took part. On the assumption that the norms on which the grades are based are subjective, sometimes also socially dependent and therefore not comparable, an attempt was made to influence the teachers' assessment through the social milieu of the accepted student.

Such comparisons overlook the fact that the assessment in school is always related to the previous lesson, the respective expectations of the teacher and the performance level of the year. School grades do not claim any general informative value beyond the close connection between their creation. Supraregional comparisons attempting this are misleading. They also do not take into account the different levels of schools and their teachers. Grades are situation-related "estimated values" (= grades), which by their nature can only have a limited objectivity and do not claim general validity, even if this is often expected or assumed by non-school bodies.

Even in the subject of mathematics , which is surrounded by the appearance of the greatest possible objectivity, it can hardly be assessed uniformly, the grading always depends on the demands and the assessment of the teacher. For example, most math teachers usually give partial points if the calculation is correct but the result is incorrect. In the national mathematics comparison tests ( VERA 8 ), on the other hand, there are only points for a correct final result, some mathematics teachers think it is similar.

Another reason for different assessment standards is that performance is assessed as a performance comparison within a school class or, at best, within a year: The teachers adjust their performance expectations so that, as a rule, the same range of grades is used; The selection of the degree of difficulty results in a grade table that approximates the Gaussian normal distribution . Such an adaptation of the task is pedagogically justified as the best possible compromise under the given circumstances between the motivating and the selective effect of performance evaluations, but leads to grades outside of the intra-school comparison being of limited significance.

It is questionable whether grades can even be comparable, possibly nationwide. Such comparability is requested again and again by laypeople, but it is regularly overlooked that even central theses with objectively the same difficulty are of different difficulty due to the different preparation (see also Central Abitur ).

On the other hand, empirical studies are cited for the relative reliability of school grades, which show that, even without centralized examinations, the school leaving grades ( secondary school leaving certificate and Abitur ) correlate strongly with later training or study success.

Relationship between grade and performance

The IGLU study was able to prove that there is a connection between grade and performance, but that it is by no means perfect.

Achievement and grades
grade Level 1
(very poor spelling)
Competence level 2 Competency level 3 Competence level 4
(very good spelling)
Spelling Note 1 0% 0% 1.8% 30.7%
Spelling Note 2 6.5% 2.5% 42.9% 54.7%
Spelling Note 3 0% 23.8% 34.0% 14.7%
Spelling Note 4 35.5% 46.7% 18.1% 0%
Spelling Note 5 48.4% 22.1% 2.9% 0%
Spelling Note 6 9.7% 4.9% 0.3% 0%

There are no uniform rules for grading spelling and which aids are permitted for dictation. In addition, there are inconsistent rules on how children with learning difficulties and dyslexics should be graded. The grade allows a comparison of children within school classes, but it is less easy to compare between two schools or even between schools in different federal states.

Criticism of performance appraisal software

All products offered have the fundamental defect that they cannot grasp which contents are known to the pupil in advance (reproductive level of difficulty with low level of difficulty) and which are unknown to him, so that he has to develop them for himself (developing level of difficulty with high level of difficulty) . This assessment can only be made by teachers who have taught the student. The same difficulty also reduces the alleged comparability of central tests to absurdity.

Situation in other countries

United States

In the United States , pupils are evaluated to a far greater extent than in Germany according to national guidelines, for example according to tests that are carried out consistently throughout the country or a state . An evaluation is only made in selected subjects such as math and English, but not subjects such as art, music or sport. In addition to the content-related performance, the behavior of the pupils is also evaluated in great detail at primary schools. The performance and behavior assessment is not only included in the school reports, but the schools also award their best-in-class and best-of-year students with prizes every year.

See also


  • Hans Brügelmann , among others: Are grades useful and necessary? Digit censorship and its alternatives in an empirical comparison. A scientific expertise of the primary school association, prepared by the primary level working group at the University of Siegen. Primary School Association: Frankfurt 2006 (new edition 2014).
  • Christine Freitag / Claudia Solzbacher (eds.): Adapt, change, abolish? School performance evaluation in the discussion. Bad Heilbrunn: Klinkhardt 2001, ISBN 978-3-7815-1169-9 .
  • Karlheinz Ingenkamp : The questionability of the censorship. Beltz, 1971, ISBN 3-407-25118-1 . (Classic, 9 editions so far)
  • Sabine Czerny: What we do to our children at school ... and how we can change that. Südwest Verlag, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-517-08633-0 .
  • Reinhold S. Jäger: Observe, evaluate, promote. Textbook for basic, advanced and advanced training . Verlag Empirische Pädagogik, Landau 2007, ISBN 978-3-937333-54-0 .
  • Peter Krope: Eight Steps to a Modern Report Certificate . Waxmann Verlag, Münster / New York / Munich / Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-89325-903-1 .
  • Werner Sacher: Review and assessment of student performance . In: HJ Apel, W. Sacher (ed.): Study book school pedagogy . Julius Klinkhardt Verlag, Bad Heilbrunn / Obb. 2005, ISBN 3-7815-1364-5 .
  • Matthias von Saldern: School achievement in discussion . Schneider Verlag, Hohengehren 1999, ISBN 3-89676-205-2 .
  • Klaus Ulich : Introduction to Social Psychology . Beltz-Verlag, Weinheim / Basel 2001, ISBN 3-407-25237-4 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ( Memento of the original from July 30, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. Schure 83203 ( Memento of the original from July 22, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. Schure 83201 .
  4. Schure 80009 ( Memento of the original from July 30, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. ^ Adjusted official collection of the NRW school regulations, School Act for the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, § 48 Principles of performance evaluation. Retrieved June 17, 2019 .
  6. NRW Ministry ( Memento of the original dated December 13, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. ^ Ministry of Education Vienna - School Law
  8. Performance Assessment Ordinance, Federal Law Gazette No. 371/1974 .
  9. ^ Information sheets on school law Part 3 - Ministry of Education Vienna .
  10. Stern Th: Supportive performance assessment. Vienna 2010
  11. Werner Sacher: Review and assessment of student performance . In: HJ Apel, W. Sacher (ed.): Study book school pedagogy . Julius Klinkhardt Verlag, Bad Heilbrunn / Obb. 2005, ISBN 3-7815-1364-5 . P. 275.
  12. Sacher (2004) suggests “collective reference norm” as an alternative term in order to avoid the positive connotation of “social”.
  13. Interview with b & w ( memento of the original from July 19, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 1.1 MB). @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  14. ^ J. Ziegenspeck: Handbook censorship and certificate in school. Historical review, general problems, empirical findings and educational policy implications. A study and work book . Bad Heilbrunn / Obb. 1999, ISBN 3-7815-0965-6 .
  15. a b Bos et al: First results from IGLU: Student performance at the end of the fourth grade in an international comparison . Waxmann, Münster / New York / Munich / Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-8309-1200-5 , p. 246.