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Limited Access to Education Data: Missed Opportunities for Germany’s Young

Press release, 12.05.2016

The success of education systems in the German Länder should be communicated with greater transparency. The systematic provision of data on the success of different educational approaches and concepts will lead to the improvement of quality and efficiency of education in Germany. These are two results from the expert report “More Transparency in Educational Policy” published by the academic advisory council of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy on 28 April 2016. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) supports the recommendation to systematically provide conclusive data.

Germany’s federal political system facilitates learning from various political measures which have been tried in education systems on the Länder level, says Prof. Riphahn, who is chair of the German Data Forum (RatSWD) and played a leading role in the making of the report. Education is the key to a well-functioning democratic society. It is also crucial for individual development and success on the job market. Moreover, education is one of the key components of the integration of immigrants. These results were echoed by the “Data Report 2016”, which was published last week. On an international level, education is often the precursor of development and prosperity.

The academic advisory council of the BMWi recommends that the German Länder improve information transparency with regard to the success of their education policies. The range of measures should include the provision of so-called Schülerkerndatensätze ("core datasets on students"), which are standardised micro-level datasets on education, in accordance with data protection regulation. The improvement of transparency would also be facilitated by permitting the use of identifiers for the Länder in existing data sets, for example, the IQB National Assessment Study and the National Education Panel (NEPS).

The RatSWD has been working to improve access to education data on the state level, especially with regard to the provision of state-level datasets on students, the so-called Schülerkerndatensätze. The nationwide introduction of these core datasets was agreed on by the Kultusministerkonferenz (KMK), the national conference of the ministers of education, in 2003. However, most Länder have not implemented the recommendations up to now and the data are usually not provided to researchers. The anonymized and standardized data of the "core datasets on students" make possible cross-state comparison of education policy measures. The RatSWD is committed to supporting the Länder to build appropriate infrastructures and to reorganize data collection.

The complete report “More Transparency in Educational Policy”: http://www.bmwi.de/DE/Mediathek/publikationen,did=765102.htm [only available in German]

The German Data Forum is an independent body of empirical researchers from universities, university-level institutions, and institutions of independent scientific research as well as representatives of important data producers. It was established by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in 2004 with the goal of sustainably improving the research data infrastructure and its international competitiveness.