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SteBis-Projektpräsentation auf der Earli SIG 23

News vom 14.11.2014

The project team “Realisation of data-based school improvement”, fltr: Carolin Ramsteck, Dr. Annette Frühwacht (former project member), Prof. Harm Kuper, Prof. Uwe Maier, Barbara Muslic, Nadine Lohse (former project member), Tanja Graf

School Improvement through Test-Based School Reform: Organizational Challenges for Schools and its Protagonists

The first bi-annual conference of the Earli Special Interest Group: Educational Evaluation, Accountability and School Improvement (SIG 23) took place in Bielefeld in November 2014. European researchers discussed the topic “The governance of school development in relation to accountability and evaluation systems.”

Carolin Ramsteck and Tanja Graf presented findings from a SteBis project named “Realisation of data-based school improvement”. The study was carried out under the direction of Prof. Uwe Maier, PH Schwäbisch Gmünd and Prof. Harm Kuper, FU Berlin.

Qualitative interviews were conducted with 229 protagonists (school supervisory officials, principals, head of subject departments, teachers) from four different German federal states. The analyses are based on qualitative content analyses.

The results indicate a large heterogeneity of practices regarding data use from state-wide mandatory proficiency tests (in Germany so-called VERA-tests). In addition, the interview data show that only limited reactions in terms of handling state-wide mandatory proficiency tests prevail in schools. Thus, the communication and cooperation across different levels of responsibility in the investigated schools has not changed significantly.

The following is a list of results with reference to the different levels:

- On school supervisory level, actors pass on the responsibility to use performance feedback data to schools. For teachers’ and principals’ vocational training or professional development the federal states’ test-institutes ore the schools are deemed to be responsible for. For school supervising authority it is mostly unclear, how mandatory proficiency test data could be relevant for their work.

- Principals usually delegate dealing with mandatory proficiency test data to the subject departments and to the (subject) teachers.

- In subject departments crucial discussions concern problems of test administration and the usage of mandatory proficiency test results themselves. Heads of departments initiate meetings on (possible) consequences resulting from test data.

- Teachers interpret and use mandatory proficiency test data according to their didactical expertise and their resources. They are hardly able to connect the data with instruction and school development on their own.


The organizational challenges that arise from these findings are:

  • On school supervisory level: Clarification of responsibilities.
  • On principals’ level: Strengthening the understanding of networking and decision-making.
  • On departments’ level: Further structuring of the discussions on VERA data use.
  • On teachers’ level: Stronger leadership, reduction of workload, establishing a support system in terms of VERA.
  • Among all school levels: The coordination of action should tighten to set in motion measures of test-based school reform and to promote its idea of accountability and evaluation.

The researchers continue to work with the presented data in two-follow up studies:

--> “Data-based instructional improvement at secondary schools – development and evaluation of advanced training modules for teachers on the instrumental usage of mandatory testing and formative assessment.” Project website --> “School leadership and school achievement - school leadership measures in consequence of central assessments of student achievement and their effect on school achievement.“ Project website

 For further information, please mail to: carolin.ramsteck@ph-gmuend.de or tanja.graf@fu-berlin.de.

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