Language skills are the key to success at school, at work and in the social environment. From 2013 to 2019, more than 600 schools and day-care centers throughout Germany worked on support concepts to improve reading and writing support via the federal and state initiative “Bildung durch Sprach undschrift” (BiSS). Materials and various instruments were tested, evaluated, further developed and the best methods were filtered out. Since 2020, these have been carried out into the area via BiSS-Transfer. In Baden-Württemberg, 364 primary schools have now decided in the second round to implement BiSS-Transfer, with the focus on systematic reading promotion. The kick-off event for these schools took place today (September 21), at which all admitted schools were able to take part in workshops to promote reading fluency.
“Reading, writing and the ability to express yourself are elementary cultural skills that we have to pay special attention to from the start,” says Minister of Education Theresa Schopper. She adds: “If children cannot read and write fluently after primary school, they are missing a crucial key skill. Our common goal is therefore to further improve the quality of teaching at schools with BiSS-Transfer and to give teachers even more support in this important task.”
Part of the state program ‘Strong BASIS!’
The goal of BiSS-Transfer is consistent reading promotion based on the systematic reading promotion concept at BiSS-Transfer elementary schools. This is scientifically based and based on the learning progress of the children. It contains binding elements that have been shown to have helped children learn to read. For example, the concept envisages reading aloud tandems that work according to the athlete-trainer principle. Students who are strong in reading form teams of two with students who are weak in reading in order to support the latter in improving their reading skills. Various other reading strategies as well as fixed “reading times” help the children to deal competently with texts.
“Unfortunately, the results of the 2021 education trends of the Institute for Quality Development in Education (IQB) have shown that the reading skills of fourth graders have deteriorated significantly,” says Professor Dr. Michael Becker-Mrotzek, Director of the Mercator Institute for Language Promotion and German as a Second Language and spokesman for the BiSS-Transfer consortium. “It is essential to support the children’s language skills in such a way that they can reach the minimum standards and follow the lessons,” he emphasizes. “We know from research that regular reading practice has a positive effect on reading performance. We therefore welcome the state-wide introduction of systematic reading promotion at more than 400 primary schools in Baden-Württemberg, which contributes to more educational equity,” says Becker-Mrotzek.
The reading promotion concept BiSS-Transfer helps to reduce the proportion of children who do not reach the minimum reading standards. BiSS-Transfer is therefore an important part of the state-wide program Starke BASIS!, which aims to secure basic skills in classes one to eight in the subjects German and mathematics. “BiSS-Transfer is another building block in our funding programs. We support schools with various programs that teach basic reading and writing skills,” says the President of the Center for School Quality and Teacher Training (ZSL), Dr. Thomas Riecke-Baulecke. He adds: “The ZSL provides numerous offers of support. Exchanges between schools are also important. We want to offer the opportunity for this through various networking events.”
BiSS-Transfer is a joint initiative of the federal and state governments for the transfer of language education, reading and writing promotion in schools and day-care centers. It ties in with the initiative “Education through Language and Writing” (BiSS) to: Between 2013 and 2019, more than 600 schools and day-care centers from all 16 federal states took part in the initiative to improve language education and encourage reading and writing.
In the summer of 2022, the schools in Baden-Württemberg were able to find out more about BiSS transfer at two ZSL information events and register for the start of the 2022/23 school year. Including the 41 pilot schools, 405 primary schools are now participating in BiSS-Transfer. You can find more information about BiSS at www.biss-sprachbildung.de/.