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Focal Area of Research - Evidence-Based Governance in the German Educational System

Press Information

To improve the quality of the German school system, numerous new governance strategies and instruments (e.g. centralized final examinations, introduction of education standards and the assessment of learning progress, school inspection instruments) have been introduced in recent years. So far, it had not been examined systematically, how the shift to the new governance paradigm has been understood, conceived of, and implemented at different levels of the educational system (e.g. school administration and inspection, school management, teaching staff).

For this purpose the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) created the overarching research program “Evidence-Based Governance in the German Educational System”. Within this framework, different research projects are being funded that explore these questions empirically using a variety of approaches.

Data and Facts

The research program “Evidence-Based Governance in the German Educational System” is part of a wider umbrella program founded by the BMBF in November 2007, which is aimed at supporting empirical education research. Funds as part of this research program are provided for several research projects. Some of them combine to collaborative projects that are conducted at several universities and research institutes.

First Funding period: 2010-2014 (completed)

  • 10 research projects/ collaborative projects

Second Funding period: 2014-2017

  • 6 research projects/ collaborative projects

Research Areas

Topic: School – Governance in the school system / governance of the school system

Governance instruments for the school sector: different types of evaluation (internal evaluation, school inspection, comparative studies, centralized final examinations) as well as the shift of governance decision-making to the individual school level

Levels: classroom, individual schools, and school administration and inspection

Research in the federal states: Baden-Wuerttemberg, Berlin, Brandenburg, Hamburg, Hessen, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony, Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Thuringia

The respective research questions are explored applying the following methods:

  • Case studies

  • Expert interviews

  • Standardized (online) surveys

  • Document analysis

  • Observations

  • Secondary data analysis

  • Network analysis

  • Classroom videography

Project Participants

  • scientists with profound expertise from different disciplines (educational sciences, psychology, sociology, political sciences, and economics of education)

Coordination Unit

Furthermore, the BMBF provides a fund for a Coordination Unit that

  • interlinks the research projects,

  • facilitates the professional development of junior researchers within the overarching research program,

  • disseminates research findings to the public,

  • and facilitates and supports the transfer of lessons learned from the research projects, particularly by enabling a targeted information exchange between science, educational policy and administration.

This is being realized through measures like:

  • targeted public relations

  • organizing and conducting an annual internal conference

  • supporting the organization of topical meetings between single projects of the research program

  • supporting cooperative publications and symposia at scientific conferences

  • organizing and conducting workshops for PhD candidates that are part of the research program

  • systematic dissemination of results for stake-holders in educational policy and administration as well as in school practice

  • organizing a conference for governance actors in policy and educational administration


For further information, please contact the coordination unit.


SteBis - Coordination unit of the BMBF funded overarching research program "Evidence-Based Governance in the German Educational System"
Freie Universität Berlin
Department of Educational Sciences and Psychology
School Pedagogy/School Improvement Research
Habelschwerdter Allee 45
14195 Berlin

Contact persons:

Anne-Katrin Lehmann
Tel. +49 (0) 30 838-59031
E-Mail: stebis@fu-berlin.de