The preliminary study was conceptualized for a larger-scale mixed-method study of the systematic historical assessment of change in the German school system; it is based on the school achievement study “Drei-Länder-Studie” (‘Three-state-study’) of comprehensive schools that Helmut Fend conducted in the 1970s following the introduction of comprehensive schools and their development in the district of Wetzlar (Hesse). The study consists of two sub-projects, adding a quantitative assessment and contemporary historical study that examines the present validity of subject-specific student learning, overall student performance, fundamental characteristics of school improvement and quality of instruction as well as teachers’ perception and attitude. The time comparison provides new insights into questions of stability of characteristics versus questions of change of characteristics, both at school level and class level, while considering the societal-based and performance-related composition of students.
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The use of data that were collected during school inspections as well as impulses from school inspections are of great significance for quality assurance and quality improvement in schools. It can be assumed that impulses from school inspections, which recur over time, lead to different strategies of action in schools; however, this does not necessarily have to be the intended effect of school inspections in terms of educational policy. In the context of a doctoral dissertation, it is analysed to what extent schools actually use feedback from school inspections to promote school improvement activities and measures, which transformational and adaptive processes are started following a school inspection, and what role (pre)conditions within schools (availability of school improvement capacities) play for the use of data.
For the analysis of improvement processes based on the level of individual schools, data from the project "Evaluation der Hamburger Schulinspektion" (‘Evaluaton of the Hamburg school inspection’) (Feldhoff, Wurster, Rettinger & Hausen, 2017) are used. The study is based on a stratified random sample drawn from all primary and secondary schools from the city-state of Hamburg, which were inspected within two years after the inspection took place. The interviews of school principals, conducted within the project, are analysed in-depth through secondary analyses with a special focus on school improvement measures/processes within schools.
For the longitudinal analysis of the schools under study, a sub-sample was selected from the project sampling for which school improvement measures can be examined at the level of individual schools for two time periods between the first and second school inspection and in each case a reaction following the inspections.
In order to gain solid knowledge about school improvement processes following an inspection, different data sources were used. In addition to interview data from the preliminary study, further data make up the sampling, such as inspection reports of the first and second inspection, school reports summarizing the implementation of school improvement measures as well as other documents from the school inspectorate.
With a mix of different methods and analyses consisting of interviews, qualitative content analysis, and analysis of documents from the school inspectorate and from individual schools, the level of school as an organization and that of school principals as actors can be recorded, examined and related to each other. For this purpose, steps of qualitative and quantitative analysis are combined. The primarily qualitative data sources will be analysed mainly by qualitative content analysis.

In the German school system, data-based school improvement and improvement of instruction are important goals in today’s educational governance efforts. Following the comprehensive approach of quality improvement and assurance, schools use data from state-wide comparison tests, central final examinations, school inspections, and schools self-evaluations to continuously engage in their school improvement activities. The project is aimed to analyze the (intended) effects of schools data use on (adjusted) student performance and to examine co-determining, organizational characteristics of schools. To this end, a large amount of data was gathered for secondary analyses. The data consist of information provided during surveys of school leaders and school conference leaders as well as student achievement data that were routinely collected from state-wide comparison tests (grade 3 and grade 8), from final examinations of Mittlere Reife (Intermediate school leaving certificate after completion of 10th grade), and from final Abitur examinations (Advanced school leaving certificate enabling the student to go to college or university) from different cohorts in order to also perform longitudinal analyses. For analysis of the multi-level structure of the successive cohort data, multi-level models that fit this type of data were used in analysis (Gray, Goldstein & Jesson, 1996; Willms & Raudenbush, 1989). In order to benefit from the use of latent variables with no measuring errors, evaluation was undertaken using multi-level structure equation models as well as multi-level growth mixture models so that consistent and inconsistent trends could be modelled adequately.

On behalf of the senator for children, youth and education of the city-state of Bremen, a group of academic experts, under the lead responsibility of Prof. Dr. Kai Maaz (DIPF, Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education, Frankfurt a.M.), evaluated the school reform known as “Bremer Konsens zur Schulentwicklung” (‘Bremen consensus on school improvement’). As part of the evaluation, SENSE conducted a study on educational governance and data-based quality improvement at the schools in Bremen. The study focuses on the implementation of instruments of quality improvement, such as comparison tests, central examinations, internal evaluations, etc., and their effect on the improvement of the schools. Another focus of the study was on governance and coordination of action in the school system of Bremen. The data were based on questionnaires of school leaders and employees from the Bremen school inspectorate.

The aim of the project was to evaluate the effects of the Hamburg school inspection with regard to its impulses for school improvement in the schools of Hamburg and to provide indications for further development of school inspections in the third cycle. The main focus of the project was on the analysis of school improvement processes within schools, the design of interfaces to the guidance and support system by school inspectorates, and the design of the inspection process. With regard to the school inspection process, the focus was on the perception of the feedback from school principals and the inspection team, which, in the second cycle, was more dialogical and more in the sense of an offer for interpretation. In addition, the different functions of school inspections (including improvement and control) for the educational system were brought into focus and then examined. In this study, the data base was a random sample of fifteen interviews of school principals, interviews of the entire inspection team, and the examination of miscellaneous school documents (e.g., inspection reports and school improvement reports) stratified by school type, social stress (SES), and the capacity of schools to improve. The evaluation uses qualitative content analysis of the interviews and document analysis.
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