TWO SOUTHERN German States, Bavaria and Baden Wuerttemberg, are trying to break free from federal guidelines on the standards for the school-leaving exam, the Abitur, because they fear they do not go far enough.
Although they have the smallest proportion of school-leavers passing the exam - 19 per cent compared to a countrywide average of 25 per cent - they cite Germany's poor showing in the Third International Mathematics and Science Study and fear of international competition as a reason to go further than other states to maintain standards.
Last year Baden-Wuerttemberg introduced minimum Abitur grade requirements for university entrance in the state, effectively forcing up standards. Other states may follow their lead.
The two states want a return to a compulsory core curriculum for the Abitur with four or five subjects rather than the three - German, maths and a foreign language at present. Some states have no compulsory subjects, with open choices akin to the A-level system.
Bavaria, which is considered already to have a rigorous Abitur, has said changes will be implemented in the next school year.
, whether or not the ministers conference take them up on the federal level.A new law implemented last year in Baden-Wuerttemberg introduced minimum Abitur grades for university entrance, effectively forcing up Abitur standards in the state. In a climate of education cuts and university reform, other states may follow.