Analyzing the use and implications of high stakes assessments on students and teachers in the International School of Stuttgart

Analyzing the use and implications of high stakes assessments on students and teachers in the International School of Stuttgart


Teachers need to think about how to best assess student learning and how to implement assessment effectively in order to understand the outcome of the tests for each individual student. I have been thinking about this topic a lot, and have had several discussions with my colleagues. I’ve also realized that there has been a gap of knowledge related to assessments in other countries.

First of all, RTI has been new to me. What is it?

Response to Intervention (RTI) is a multi-tier approach to the early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs. The RTI process begins with high-quality instruction and universal screening of all children in the general education classroom. Struggling learners are provided with interventions at increasing levels of intensity to accelerate their rate of learning. These services may be provided by a variety of personnel, including general education teachers, special educators, and specialists. Progress is closely monitored to assess both the learning rate and level of performance of individual students. Educational decisions about the intensity and duration of interventions are based on individual student response to instruction. RTI is designed for use when making decisions in both general education and special education, creating a well-integrated system of instruction and intervention guided by child outcome data.



I have been teaching our youngest students for a very long time (nearly 26 years), and throughout this time there have always been students who need a little, some, or a lot of teacher’s support. And honestly, I have asked myself several times: how could I help the best? How can I best help my student develop in a way that is not interruptive, and where he/she is engaged in reaching a higher learning level? Where do I get the tools to help, to assess and to use the best practice?

I have read several articles about how to assess students, also using the RTI. In one article it is mentioned that students mostly get support when they are interruptive, not fitting into the classroom routine, disturbing all the time.

So –I went to a page where RTI is translated into German to get an idea how this is set up.

The article itself has been very interesting: It is about RTI related support for children’s learning in reading at German schools.

RTI describes three levels where it is shown that the approach is effective:

  1. Phase 1: all the students get tested in a way where the level isn’t too high so each student might achieve the score.
  2. Phase 2: If there are students who show some kind of learning difficulties in the test the teachers figure out how, when and what might cause a problem.
  3. Phase 3: there will be individual training for all these young learners related to their reading level. Strategies will be taken on board to engage the children’s learning in a way that there are little steps for success. So –the child is taken where he/she is assessed related to their current ability, brought to higher learning by finding out which strategy works best, and also to slowly integrate them into class.

German Article: Inklusive Schulentwicklung durch response-tointervention (RTI) – Realisierungsmöglichkeiten des RTI-Konzepts im Förderbereich Lesen Christian Huber, Michael Grosche und Peter Schütterle



At the International School of Stuttgart (ISS) assessments are used to show how a child works for the IB (International Baccalaureate) curriculum. I need to find out whether RTI is used for assessing our students.

First I met with one of our Educational Psychologists Melanie S. who mentioned that there is Standardized Testing going on at our school, such as: ACER tests from grade 3 to 10. She, as a school psychologist, analyzes the data once a year.

MAP testing for Grades 2 to 5 (and further, sometimes). This MAP testing is taken two times per year.

MAP® Growth™ measures what students know and informs what they’re ready to learn next. By dynamically adjusting to each student’s performance, MAP Growth creates a personalized assessment experience that accurately measures performance—whether a student performs on, above, or below grade level. Timely, easy-to-use reports help teachers teach, students learn, and administrators lead.



PIPS testing: This testing is taken in Kindergarten (for 5 to 6 year old children) two times a year. Our school counselor Paul M. runs this and we use this data twice a year.


PIPS measures the progress of a 5-year-old new entrant over their first 12 months of school. PIPS provides a profile of a child’s strengths and weaknesses to help plan appropriate learning experiences. It is an early indicator of special educational needs and can monitor progress made over the first year at school. It helps answer the questions:

  • What do children know when they start school?
  • What progress is made in the first year?
  • How effective is my school program compared to other schools?

The start of year assessment is conducted within the first two weeks of the new entrant beginning school.

In talking to our 3rd grade teacher, Kimberly V., I learned that the students are tested through ACER, MAP, and Fountas and Pinnell.

Benchmark Assessment System (BAS)

Using the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment Systems to determine student’s independent and instructional reading levels, teachers are able to observe student reading behaviors one-on-one, engage in comprehension conversations that go beyond retelling, and make informed decisions that connect assessment to instruction.

Also, Kimberly works with: rubrics, Mathletics tests, normal ones like formative assessments and reflections. She said that reflection forms, self reflection forms and anecdotal records are taken as well.


ACER: ACER is a recognized international leader in the development and provision of high quality assessment and reporting tools and services for schools, universities, TAFE institutes and Registered Training organizations, health professionals, employers, and governments in Australia and internationally.


I also had a conversation with our Lower School Principal Mr. Paul Morris, and our PYP coordinator Mr. Alexander Whitaker. They told me how or students are assessed, especially those children who have special needs or disabilities.


As I live in Germany I also know about the Europe Testing called PISA, a test that is taken for 9th graders all around the world. Just a few weeks ago there has been a report from the “Stuttgarter Zeitung”, a local newspaper with the PISA results for Baden-Württemberg. Those results have been unsatisfying – the reason might be too many children in one class, too many different learning levels, a wide range of students with migration background who still need some German language support, and also children with specific needs (such as ADHA), which is important to be supported individually- but there are teachers missing. So far, the outcome of this article has been that the government will make an attempt to support schools in finding support from teachers, assistants and others, especially in providing extra support for children with special needs.

However, Germany still ranked among the top European countries for education, according to the PISA report.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published its highly anticipated PISA report for 2015, comparing the aptitudes of around 540,000 15-year-olds from 72 different countries in the fields of science, reading and mathematics.

Overall, German students performed above the OECD average in all three areas tested. Germany also had a higher share of top performers – those who scored the top levels or 5 or 6 in at least one subject – than the OECD average, as well as a smaller share of low achievers – those who scored below level 2 – than the OECD average.

The ranking placed Germany on par with the United Kingdom, and below Slovenia, Finland and Estonia, which performed the best of the European countries. There, less than 5 percent of students were low performers in all three subjects, whereas in Germany this proportion was more than double at nearly one in ten students.

German students performed best in science and reading, but science scores saw a drop since the last PISA report in 2012 by 15 points out of a possible 1,000, and math scores dropped from 514 to 506. Reading scores increased by one point.

In the category of science, 11 percent of German students were top performers, which was 3 percentage points higher than the OECD average.

Rich-poor achievement gap

Germany has more of a gap between students based on their socioeconomic backgrounds than other countries on average: there was a 16 percent variation in student performance based on socioeconomic status, compared to the OECD average of 13 percent.

Still, this gap did shrink by 4 percentage points since 2006.

“As in the majority of OECD countries, a more socio-economically advantaged student in Germany scores more than 30 points higher in science (the equivalent of one year of schooling), on average, than a disadvantaged student,” the report explained, noting that this point difference was 42 in Germany.

In contrast, Canada, Estonia, Finland and Japan all had 10 percent variation or less between advantaged and disadvantaged students.

“Germany’s education system is less equitable than the average across OECD countries,” the report added. “However, equity has improved in Germany since 2006. Students’ socioeconomic status became a less reliable predictor of achievement.”


I think I need to get even deeper into these assessments that I have mentioned, and hope that by using these my students will be tested in a fair and developmentally appropiate way.

Carola Deinet-Knittel



How to incorporate diversity and multiple perspectives into lesson plans

Blog: How to incorporate diversity and multiple perspectives into lesson plans


by Carola Deinet-Knittel

Today I‘d like to give some input related to the International School of Stuttgart, where I have been working for about eleven years.

For thirty years, the International School of Stuttgart (ISS) has been the only school in the Stuttgart region to offer a truly international education – authorized and accredited by the Council of International Schools, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and the International Baccalaureate Organization.

From Kindergarten through grade 12, ISS is a vibrant, student-centered learning community where both subject rigor and character development are fostered, where tradition is valued and innovation embraced and where partnership with parents is a fundamental part of our philosophy.[1]

Philosophy Statements: (Our beliefs)

We believe in the importance of:

Innovation: Emphasizing creative problem-solving and confident adaptation to change.

Respect: Fostering empathy and integrity to nurture a caring responsibility within a diverse cultural community.

Engagement: Challenging and inspiring understanding through active curiosity and individual involvement in learning.

Relevance: Accessing and discerning real life connections between intellectual experience and the changing world.

The ISS experience inspires its learners to develop a sense of pride and commitment to making a difference. A transparent and reflective partnership between students, teachers and family is fundamental to our mission.

Mission Statement: (Our purpose)

Leading education for internationally minded families

Our school mission is to inspire, challenge and actively support our students and each other to become positive participants in a changing world.[2] I am a member of the International School of Stuttgart and teaching the youngest students (aged 3 to 5 years old) for the past eleven years. What I absolutely love and honor is the fact that, we, as a school community highly value each cultural background. Overall we have about 40 countries represented in our staff and students. The children I work with are mostly from Japan, Germany, the United States, and Great Britain. There is a great diversity and cultural perspective at our school: daily I see people communicating in their home and family language, or dancing on the floor to some Indian music. Each kind of event is highly valued and celebrated related to our mission. It is necessary that everybody feels welcomed, accepted and respected by each and everyone – whatever colour, background or handicap we have. We treat people respectfully, and are open-minded towards our community.

I am convinced that sharing and celebrating events brings people together- this is my personal experience. We celebrate big events, such as the Multicultural evening that takes place every March. People show their cultural diversity through all kinds of performances, such as dancing, singing and sharing food with one another and getting dressed in their national costumes. Also, we ask the parents of our class to tell us about their individual cultural background, and how to share their events or celebrations with us. This diversity is shared during the circle-time in the mornings, where we have had people performing through music, dance, art and special treats from all around the world (including “Diwali”, “Thanksgiving” or “Hinamatsuri”). Living in Germany is a part of sharing our/my own cultural background as well. Sharing the local environment is a great opportunity to tell people about our history, community and events. With the younger students we share the St. Martin festival- a festival full of light, and lanterns with a background that leads to deep understanding: how we take care of other people. Through this event the children have a chance to learn about respect and support for other people, -a message that St. Martin sent hundreds of years ago as he always helped the poor, and became a bishop of Tours in France. Related to this event I created a lesson plan that gives my youngest learners input in learning about this cultural background of a part of Europe.

I realised, that the older I get, the more open-minded towards other cultures and nations.  I truly feel that we share the whole planet with one another so therefore also need to care for one another. I get a cultural perspective not only by sharing food or celebrating, but also through feedback related to international diversity from teachers, parents and children. They feel that they are all valued people in a world where each of us is unique. And this we teach our children- respect others however they are dressed, behave or move, and accept their languages. One aspect I also appreciate is one of the standards we teach: all our languages are special- in a way that we communicate whether non-verbally, through performance or conversation, share cultural background and events, laugh and sing and celebrate being together –as a great community.

In my lesson plan about “St. Martin”, I have included several different languages so people can understand one another better, and share ideas and thinking between one another.

I hope that I could contribute in sharing ideas how to include the diversity of Multicultural Perspectives between one another.

Carola Deinet-Knittel

Lesson plan related to the topic: “St. Martin Celebration”

Differentiating for and Anticipating Student Needs

This is the link of a flowchart I created related to the blog.


As a teacher you have to differentiate every single lesson, deal with each situation throughout the day, be highly flexible and always take strategies on board that engages student learning individually. I would like to write about two students in my current class for whom it is very important to differentiate instruction for their learning.

  1. is a four -year old boy, who started school this year, and seems to be very shy. He has difficulties to step from one place to the next, seems to be scared to transition into other rooms or areas, and seems to need constant adult supervision. When teaching indoors, I have him with me most of the time, and always need to think about a strategy to get him involved into the lesson. So far, I have figured out his main interests numerals and letters. This is important to know as these allow him to feel safer during an activity. The strategy I use is quite simple: I hand over a number to him in the morning that he carries with him all the time. We have an agreement that this prompt goes into his pocket as soon as he needs his hands free for an activity, such as drawing and writing into his journal, or Mathematics related activities where he needs to use his hands. Also, when he gets emotional I prepare him for transitions ahead of time: together we go through the daily schedule, which is hung up on the wall, and shows transition times of the day. During outdoor learning he walks and stands close to me, and I give him simple instructions related to his learning level, such as to find one natural resource instead of five. In this way he shows engagement, as he started showing curiosity in the outdoor learning and picked up a leaf. “This-for Mommy”, he said and smiled.
  2. is also a four-year old boy who started school this academic year. He shows lots of interest everywhere, all the time, and in each learning environment. He is like a“busy bee”flying -moving around everywhere. He is not able to stay focused for a longer amount of time, and usually switches places after two minutes. Especially during circle time it is hard for him to listen to and follow instructions. I get his interest if I involve him into our daily routine, giving him little tasks, such as: be a helping hand, help go through the schedule, hold the calendar. Then he shows a lot of engagement and is able to focus much better. Also, I have been using a strategy that is a very helpful tool: each time he chooses a learning environment I tell him that he needs to stay there for a longer amount of time. He fetches the sand-timer, turns it and becomes his own “Time-keeper” and needs to stay in the room he has chosen during that time. I started with the 3 minutes sand-timer, and he already is getting better using the 5 minutes timer. I am aiming to have him stay focused for 10 minutes using the sand-timer for this amount of time. This strategy is important as it makes time ‘visible’ for the boy, and clearly gives him an instruction he is able to follow. Throughout this differentiation of classroom management he gets more learning input, and his concentration span will be developed by focusing on one specific learning activity. Also, I modify my teaching by sitting next to him on one-to-one correspondence, and repeat what is asked for in his Mother tongue, which is German. This is also an important strategy, as he understands tasks much better. For example, when asked to collect five different objects into a paper bag during the forest-project he could only show me two. The next day I went with him outside on the playground, and together we went on a“nature” hunt. He finally could manage to find the five different objects without my support, and collected: a little twig, an oval leaf, a maple leaf, a rock and a wood chip.

Related to the mind-map “How to support a student in class I created a longer time ago I like to mention that throughout a variety of strategies each child is able to be supported in class, for example:

set up achievable goals

offer strategies for support

communicate with the parents

related to a child’s learning give visible, auditory, kinesthetic input

get into contact with psychologists, health service at school ( such as school nurse)

Throughout this variety of teaching strategies I hope that the students will benefit from differentiation, and will be taken to a higher learning level.

Carola Deinet-Knittel


International School of Stuttgart

Atlas Curriculum

Link related to autism: