Research Focus No. 3: Linking School Effectiveness and School Improvement

There are two distinct research traditions within the field of improving schools, namely school effectiveness and school improvement. Despite their shared goal of improving schools, the two traditions are not particularly interconnected; rather, they exist side by side using different foci, methods and designs as well as having different historical developments.

School effectiveness research focuses typically on the identification of factors which are related to (mainly cognitive) student outcomes. The school improvement tradition, however, focuses on processes how a particular school gets from a less effective to a more effective status, whereas the results on student level are often of minor importance or even neglected. After a relatively independent development over decades, nearly 30 years ago, researchers from school effectiveness and school improvement have started to link the two traditions in order to overcome the limitations the individual approaches have, with the intention of pursuing the shared goal more effectively. This shall enable one to achieve better theoretical descriptions and empirical studies of processes and of effects of schools and their development. Beside the discussion about shortcomings and possibilities of linking school effectiveness and school improvement, some researchers developed frameworks and models to bring the traditions together.

Consequently, the center addresses the following research questions to link those two topics:

  • What theoretical and empirical challenges are associated with this link?
  • Which links between concepts from the school effectiveness tradition and from the school improvement tradition can be identified, either theoretically or empirically?
  • What models that link school effectiveness and school improvement are suitable in empirical research and for application in practice?

Research in school improvement and school effectiveness is characterized by professional cooperation between numerous national and international partners in the fields of academic research, educational policy and practice, and administrations. As such, research findings are not only discussed in academic settings, but can be made available to aid/assist both educational practitioners and policy-makers.



Feldhoff, T., Bischof, L. M., Emmerich, M., & Radisch, F. (2014). Was nicht passt, wird passend gemacht!: Zur Verbindung von Schuleffektivität und Schulentwicklung. In H. J. Abs, T. Brüsemeister, M. Schemann, & J. Wissinger (Eds.), Governance im Bildungswesen zwischen Steuerung und Koordination. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften (65-87).

Bischof, L. M., Feldhoff, T., Hochweber, J. & Klieme, E. (2017). Untersuchung von Schulentwicklung anhand von Schuleffektivitätsdaten – „Yes, we can“?! In: Ulrich Steffens, Katharina Maag Merki & Helmut Fend (Eds.). Aktuelle Befunde und Perspektiven der Schulqualitäts- und Schulentwicklungsforschung. Grundlagen der Qualität von Schule 2. (pp. 287-308) Münster: Waxmann.

Bischof, L. M. (2017). Schulentwicklung und Schuleffektivität. Ihre theoretische und empirische Verknüpfung. Band 1. Wiesbaden: VS-Verlag.