Identifying Students At Risk Of School Failure In Luxembourgish Secondary School, by Florian Klapproth & Paule Schaltz
It is important for educational systems to note those students that are most at risk of being held back a year or dropping out altogether, and it is lamentable but not particularly surprising that the high degree of immigrants that have moved into Luxembourg over the past couple of decades has led to a struggle that many of these immigrants have with the Luxembourgish educational system. The authors decide in this short paper to look at school failure from a statistical point of view and then run through various scenarios that reflect what factors lead to struggles in high school education and the results are not particularly surprising. That said, when it comes to outcomes in education, a lot of things are not surprises, but sometimes it is worthwhile to look at the data to make sure that the conclusions are supported statistically and are not merely the result of one’s intuitions and prejudices, as the case may be. This paper is very heavy on the statistics, though, and not everyone will appreciate that as much as I did, though admittedly those who read articles on the subject of educational outcomes are likely to appreciate it.
What conclusions did the authors come to? Unsurprisingly enough, the authors found that students from immigrant families where Luxembourger linguistic norms are not encouraged struggled with education. This is something of a consistent problem among migrant families that the absence of a desire to adopt the cultural norms of a host country or assimilate linguistically presents barriers to educational achievement and thus social and economic mobility. None of this should in any way be surprising even if it is lamentable. What is striking and not immediately obvious is that students who were above average in German linguistic skill frequently struggled with school failure, and the reason given is intriguing, that students who do better in German are often slotted above their achievement level in an academic track even if they are not as good at mathematics, which is along with Luxembourgish the key skill needed to do well at high school in Luxembourg. The general solution, of course, is that more attention needs to be paid to the general educational attainment of a student and not to push them into academic track if they have linguistic skills but lack STEM skills that are necessary to succeed in higher education. The authors draw the appropriate conclusions from their research.