Navigation auf


Institute of Education State-Wide Exit Examination Study


Throughout the German-speaking countries, school systems have been systematically overhauling their administrative steering mechanisms in recent years. The general tendency is to grant partial autonomy to schools while at the same time introducing new instruments of school evaluation and accountability systems. A central leitmotif of this process is the introduction and ongoing monitoring of performance standards.

One striking example of such reforms in Germany is the introduction of state-wide exit examinations (Zentralabitur), a standardized exit examination given at the end of academic-track secondary school (Gymnasium). This forms the starting point for the study at hand: using as a case study the German states of Bremen and Hesse, where state-wide exit examinations were introduced simultaneously in spring of 2007, the study examines how the change from a class-based to a state-wide organized examination system affects students, teachers, schools, instruction, and the educational system. This large-scale field experiment makes it possible to study the implementation processes and effects in connection with these new methods of system monitoring particularly well, to examine whether the intended objectives are being achieved, and to identify any unintended consequences.

The study is being conducted at the University of Zurich (Prof. Katharina Maag Merki) in cooperation with the German Institute of International Educational Research (DIPF) in Frankfurt am Main (Prof. Eckhard Klieme). It follows directly on previous comprehensive surveys carried out from 2005 to 2006 and started in 2007 for an initial period of three years. It is being funded by the ministries of the two states and has received financial support from the DFG (German Research Foundation). At the beginning of the year 2011 the study has been extended for two more years in order to analyze the sustainability of the effects and processes of the implementation of state-wide exit examinations.

The study takes into account differing perspectives (students, teachers, school administrators) as well as multi-dimensional criteria (school quality, diagnostic processes, teaching quality, self-regulated learning and math or Englisch achievement of the students). In 37 schools selected according to specific criteria, achievement tests in math and English, standardized surveys for teacher and students, evaluations of examination and grading data, and a qualitative case analysis are being conducted.