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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Quality assurance in early childhood and school education


11.Quality assurance

11.1Quality assurance in early childhood and school education

Last update: 2 April 2024

Responsible Bodies

Early childhood education and care

Unlike the school sector, in pre-school education responsibility for the quality of a day-care centre for children lies with the maintaining body for that centre, which undertakes the Fachaufsicht (academic supervision of teaching and education activity) and the Dienstaufsicht (supervision of educational staff and head teachers) for its employees.

The maintaining bodies of day-care centres for children are obliged to explain how quality assurance and development are guaranteed in their concept. A number of methods are used in practice. A method of quality monitoring that is binding for the whole Land only exists at present in Berlin. This stipulates an annual internal evaluation as well as external evaluations every five years by certified agencies.

The youth welfare offices (Jugendämter) have the task of supporting the private-sector maintaining bodies (as well as regularly self-employed child-minders) through appropriate measures in exercising their promotional mission. This is less a matter of control, and more a matter of specialist support, for instance through practical or specialist advice, which have an important role in this context. Thus support on concept and team development issues and organisational development specific to the establishment, inter alia, count among the tasks of specialist support.

In the Länder, there are manifold measures to ensure and develop the quality of day-care centres and day care for children. With the Second Act on the Further Development of Quality and Participation in Child Daycare (Zweites Gesetz zur Weiterentwicklung der Qualität und zur Teilhabe in der Kindertagesbetreuung – R65), the so-called KiTa Quality Act, the Federation is supporting the measures of the Länder in 2023 and 2024. Within the scope of the needs-based and quality-oriented expansion of day care for children, the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend – BMFSFJ) is additionally financing various other programmes for the further development of quality in day care for children. The Federal Government’s quality assurance initiative is being accompanied by the Working Party of the Highest Youth and Family Authorities of the Länder (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Obersten Landesjugend- und Familienbehörden – AGJF) in an advisory capacity, on behalf of the Conference of Ministers of Youth and Family Affairs (Jugend- und Familienministerkonferenz Since 2018, the BMFSFJ and the German Children and Youth Foundation (Deutsche Kinder- und Jugendstiftung) have awarded the German Kita Prize for special commitment to child day care.

Primary and secondary education

School supervisory authorities exercise Fachaufsicht (academic supervision), Rechtsaufsicht (legal supervision) and Dienstaufsicht (staff supervision) within the school system. Special educational support and academic evaluation is provided in school pilot projects carried out by the school supervisory authorities and the institutes for school development (Landesinstitute für Schulentwicklung) of the Länder. Accompanying research examines the effectiveness of the reform measures and the framework that should be created if they are to be successfully implemented. The introduction of new curricula is often preceded by a test phase. In some Länder, for example, teachers are surveyed in order to establish whether the new guidelines have proved successful or require amendment.

By providing advice and assistance and recommending changes in schools and by reporting to higher-ranking education authorities, the school supervisory authorities and institutes for school development are to make a contribution to the evaluation and further development of the school system.

In the majority of the Länder, schools are evaluated by external quality or evaluation agencies and inspection procedures. In the Länder where there are legal provisions for external evaluation, as a rule, responsibility lies with the school supervisory authorities. In several Länder, responsibility lies with the institutes for school development.

The vocational training committees and the Land committees shall, within the framework of their duties, work towards a continuous improvement of the quality of vocational training.

In June 2004 the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder (Kultusministerkonferenz) set up the Institute for Educational Quality Improvement (Institut zur Qualitätsentwicklung im Bildungswesen – IQB) at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Since then, the IQB has been entrusted with the supervision of the operationalisation of the educational standards, the coordination of the development of corresponding standard-oriented tasks and the review of their achievement. Using representative samples, the called IQB Educational Trends study (formerly: IQB Länder Comparison Study) check the extent to which the competence requirements set out in the educational standards have been achieved on primary level and lower secondary level in the individual Länder before completion of the relevant educational stage. The comparative tests (VERA) are used for state-wide and grade-related examinations of the performance of all pupils at school and class level for the purpose of teaching and school development. With the IQB Education Trends and VERA, the IQB  makes a key contribution to the implementation of the Standing Conference’s comprehensive strategy for educational monitoring. More detailed information on the educational standards and the comprehensive strategy of the Standing Conference for educational monitoring can be found in the description of measures for quality assurance in the school sector below.

As part of the joint task “assessment of the performance of the German educational system in international comparison” in October 2010 the Standing Conference and the BMBF set up the Centre for International Large Scale Assessment (Zentrum für Internationale Bildungsvergleichsstudien – ZIB). A network formed by the Technical University of Munich (TUM School of Social Sciences and Technology), the Leibniz Institute for Educational Research and Educational Information (Deutsches Institut für Internationale Pädagogische Forschung – DIPF) in Frankfurt, and the DIPF | Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education (DIPF | Leibniz Institut für Bildungsforschung und Bildungsinformation) in Kiel, the ZIB is responsible for implementing PISA studies in Germany, including drafting national reports. Other tasks of the ZIB are ensuring and coordinating continuous participation in international academic committees on educational comparative studies, research and the promotion of up-and-coming academics in the field of empirical educational research and in-depth analyses of data from international performance studies. In addition, the data records from national and international school performance studies are archived and documented as well as provided for re- and secondary analysis in the Research Data Centre (Forschungsdatenzentrum – FDZ) of the ZIB at the IBQ.

In general, it is to contribute to securing the educational monitoring in an international comparison which is jointly funded by the Federation and the Länder, and to in-creasing the extent and presence of German educational research in the context of international educational comparative studies.

Approaches and methods for quality assurance

Early childhood education and care

On 1 January 2019, the Act on the Further Development of the Quality and Participation in Child Day Care (Gesetz zur Weiterentwicklung der Qualität und zur Teilhabe in der Kindertagesbetreuung) came into force. With the so-called Good Daycare Facilities Act (Gute-KiTa-Gesetz), the Federation also supports measures of the Länder to further develop the quality of childcare. Until 2022 the Federation invests a total of around Euro 5.5 billion in measures to further develop the quality of child day care and to relieve parents of their fees. With the Second Act on the Further Development of Quality and Participation in Child Day Care (Zweites Gesetz zur Weiterentwicklung der Qualität und zur Teilhabe in der Kindertagesbetreuung), the so-called Day-Care Centre Quality Act (KiTa-Qualitätsgesetz), the Federal Government is providing the Länder with a total of an additional Euro 4 billion for 2023 and 2024.

The Dy-Care Centre Quality Act enables new measures in seven fields of action, for example to create a needs-based offer, a good skilled worker-child key, to recruit and secure qualified skilled workers or to strengthen the management of child day care facilities. The Federation and the Länder conclude individual agreements which specify the action and financing concepts with which they intend to promote quality improvement and improved participation in child day care. To review progress in improving quality and participation, the law provides for monitoring.

Furthermore, the BMFSFJ supports the development of quality in day care for children with several federal programmes.

The BMFSFJ's Skilled Labour Initiative for Staff in Early Childhood Education and Care (Fachkräfteoffensive für Erzieherinnen und Erzieher) the Länder from 2019 to 2022 to attract more young people to the profession of child-care worker, to ensure good training practice and to open up opportunities for the professional development of experienced specialists. 

With the federal programme Language Day Care Centres for Children – Because Language Is the Key to the World (Sprach-Kitas: Weil Sprache der Schlüssel zur Welt ist), which ran from 2016 to June 2023, the BMFSFJ particularly promoted the teaching of language education integrated into everyday life in daycare facilities, inclusive pedagogy and cooperation with families. The programme is primarily aimed at daycare facilities with an above-average proportion of children from educationally disadvantaged families and from families with a non-German family language.

At the end of June 30, 2023, the structures of the federal programme Language Day Care Centres for Children – Because Language Is the Key to the World were transferred to the responsibility of the Länder. All Länder have created the conditions to continue the “Sprach-Kitas“ in their state structures, either with state funds or with funds for the implementation of the Second Act on the Further Development of Quality and Participation in Child Daycare. More information on the federal programme Language Day Care Centres for Children – Because Language Is the Key to the World can be found in chapter 12.4.

The federal programme ProChildminding: Where Education for the Smallest Starts (ProKindertagespflege: Wo Bildung für die Kleinsten beginnt) the BMFSFJ promotes the qualification of day care workers, better working conditions and good cooperation in day care from 2016 to 2022.More detailed information is available in chaper 4.5

The further training initiative for early childhood teaching professionals (Weiterbildungsinitiative Frühpädagogische Fachkräfte – WiFF), launched by the BMBF in conjunction with the Robert Bosch Foundation (Robert Bosch Stiftung), and implemented in collaboration with the DJI, aims to strengthen elementary education as the basis of the education system. The three partners advocate establishing greater transparency in the early childhood further training system in Germany, securing the quality of the offers and enabling educational paths that can be built on. Thanks to its website, events and study groups, the WiFF offers a platform for an exchange between experts from the fields of practical work and education policy as well as researchers. Current topics of early childhood education and care are addressed and a discourse stimulated about the professionalisation of early childhood educators.

In 2023, the WiFF Transfer action line was launched under the WiFF umbrella. The work and research programme aims to help connect science and early education practice and intensify the discourse. The aim is to make knowledge available for practical use in the childcare system by the end of 2026.

Primary and secondary education

School supervisory authorities

School supervisory authorities exercise Fachaufsicht (academic supervision), Rechtsaufsicht (legal supervision) and Dienstaufsicht (staff supervision) within the school system. Academic supervision concerns the teaching and educational work carried out by schools. The school inspectors support and foster the work of the school, ensure that curricula and other legal provisions are being adhered to and that teaching and education are being conducted professionally using appropriate methods and further improved wherever possible. Academic supervision is carried out by visiting schools, observing lessons and providing advice at school level. Legal supervision is a further element in school supervision. It involves monitoring the legality of management of what is called external school affairs (for example, the construction and maintenance of school buildings) by the Schulträger, the school's maintaining body. Finally, school supervisory authorities exercise staff supervision over teachers and head teachers at public-sector schools, thus ensuring that teaching staff are carrying out their duties. Civil service guidelines stipulate the need for the appraisal of teachers on specific occasions (end of probationary period, promotion, transfer) and in some cases at periodic intervals. This serves both to advance the career of the individual teacher and to maintain the efficiency of the school system. Teaching ability and aptitude are assessed, as are the teacher's professional competence. Assessment is based on visits to classes by the head teacher and school inspectors, performance reports by the head teacher on the teacher concerned, conversations with the teacher and inspection and assessment of pupils' work.

Evaluation measures in schools

In recent years, initiatives have been taken in all Länder in order to further develop the measures taken so far for assuring the quality of education at both the level of the school system and the level of the individual schools; this goes beyond the customary range of instruments of the school supervisory authority and project supervision. The Länder have taken a number of evaluation measures in which various quality assurance and quality development procedures interact. These procedures include

  • the development or further development of framework curricula and quality tableux or reference frames for school quality,
  • comparative tests across the Länder and schools in core subjects,
  • the further development of external evaluation,
  • the development and updating of standards and their review,
  • the development of quality management in schools,
  • centralised final examinations (lower and upper secondary education)
  • the provision of instruments, procedures and consulting services to support internal evaluation.

These measures are embedded in the comprehensive strategy of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz) for educational monitoring as well as in strategies of individual Länder for quality evaluation and quality assurance which, amongst other measures, include the strengthening of the autonomy of the individual school, the development of school-specific profiles, the promotion of inter-school cooperation as well as the strengthening of the advisory functions of the school supervisory authority.

An external evaluation of schools is carried out on a regular basis in some Länder (Schulvisitation, Schulinspektion). Some Länder continue to develop their procedures on a needs-oriented basis or conduct them on an ad hoc basis; other Länder have suspended external evaluation procedures for several years. The Ministries of Education or the institutes for school development of the Land are usually responsible for the external evaluation. The goal is to record and improve the quality of school education. Depending on the Land, external evaluations are carried out on an ad hoc basis or on a rotational basis every three to six years. Characteristic methods include the analysis of data and documents, observations (visits to classes, inspections), standardised questionnaires and interviews. The evaluation procedures for schools in the Länder are in line with the educational standards of the Standing Conference. These cross-Länder target criteria are in most Länder complemented by the provisions of the frameworks for school quality or quality tableaux which by means of indicators of school and teaching practice quality provide schools with a frame of reference.

As part of these strategies, increasing weight is given to measures for the evaluation of individual schools. In the majority of Länder, the obligatory development of school-specific programmes plays a central role. In the school-specific programmes or school development programmes, the individual schools specify the main focuses and objectives of their work on the basis of Land regulations regarding the content and qualifications obtained after completing the courses or educational policy goals. At the same time, the school-specific programmes determine internal evaluation methods and criteria based on the requirements specific to the Land (e.g. curricula, timetables). The areas to be evaluated are determined autonomously by the schools in the school-specific programmes. School-specific programmes should take account of the social and demographic requirements of the individual school. The frameworks for school quality referred to above are of central importance for the implementation of school-specific programmes.

The Vocational Training Act (Berufsbildungsgesetz – BBiG) puts great emphasis on quality assurance within the dual system of vocational training. This focus includes a flexibilisation of the training quality control instruments and their supplementation by a number of new quality assurance guidelines, amongst other measures. Moreover, procedures are to be drawn up for the external evaluation of quality assurance in continuing vocational training and education.

Comprehensive strategy for educational monitoring

The overall strategy of the Standing Conference for  educational monitoring provides for the following methods and instruments:

  • participation in international school performance studies (PIRLS/IGLU, TIMSS, PISA)
  • monitoring and implementation of educational standards for the primary sector, the lower secondary level and the Allgemeine Hochschulreife
  • method to ensure quality at the level of schools
  • the joint report on education of the Federation and Länder

The four pillars of the overall strategy on educational monitoring will be presented in more detail in the following and the considerations of the Standing Conference described as to how more application-oriented knowledge can be obtained for educational policy and pedagogical practice on the basis of the instruments and methods of the overall strategy on educational monitoring as well as further empirical data.

Participation in international comparative studies of pupil achievement

The joint task pursuant to Article 91b, paragraph 2 of the Basic Law (Grundgesetz) includes the cooperation of the Federation and the Länder for the assessment of the performance of educational systems in international comparison and drafting relevant reports and recommendations. A corresponding administrative agreement has entered into force in the beginning of 2007.

Germany is taking part in international comparative studies of pupil achievement such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) and the OECD project entitled Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) as a means of determining the performance of the German education system in an international comparison and so as to be able to derive appropriate measures for quality assurance from the results.

After the publication of the results of the PISA 2000 OECD study in December 2001, the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder named seven areas in which the Länder and the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs will become active and are still active:

  • measures to improve linguistic competence as early as early childhood education
  • measures to strengthen the link between the early childhood sector and primary school with the aim of an early school entry
  • measures for the improvement of primary education and the continuous improvement of reading literacy and basic understanding of mathematical and scientific concepts
  • measures for efficient support of educationally disadvantaged children with particular regard to children and young people with a migrant background or non-German language of origin
  • measures to thoroughly develop and assure the quality of teaching and schools on the basis of binding educational standards and result-oriented evaluation
  • measures to improve professionalism in teaching with particular regard to diagnostic and methodical competence as an element of systematic school development
  • measures to expand provision of all-day activities and care with the aim of increasing opportunities for education and support with particular regard to pupils with educational deficits and especially gifted pupils


The results of PISA 2022 published at the end of 2023. They show that young people in Germany are performing significantly worse in mathematics, reading and science than in 2018. In mathematics and reading, pupils are only achieving the average level of the OECD countries. Only in the natural sciences are their results still above average. The Standing Conference has emphasized that the results of PISA 2022 show an urgent need for action that goes beyond the school sector and has announced that it will thoroughly analyze the causes and factors underlying the results. It also points out that the composition of the student body has changed significantly in a short space of time.

The Standing Conference is in favor of the following measures:

  • A command of the German language of education is essential for the educational success of pupils. Priority must therefore be given to teaching secure German language skills.
  • In addition, the concepts for teaching German as a second language need to be reviewed.
  • Overall, the core subjects and basic skills must be strengthened at school.
  • With the Qualification Programme for the Development of Teaching and Training Quality in Mathematics (QuaMath – Unterrichts- und Fortbildungsqualität in Mathematik entwickeln), a nationwide programme has already been launched to further develop mathematics teaching in all types of schools and make it more interesting for pupils. In addition, trainers and math teachers will be better qualified and cooperation in teams and networks will be strengthened.
  • Digital tools and their targeted use to promote learning are playing an increasingly important role in the teaching of basic skills. The digitalisation of the school system must be implemented as a priority and at an accelerated pace.
  • The Läander are committed to a coherent overall strategy of educational monitoring, participation in international and national comparative studies and the implementation of tests and learning level surveys as a necessary basis for evidence-based school and teaching development.
  • In the upcoming deliberations on the reorganization of teacher training, care must be taken to ensure that teachers acquire the skills required to work and teach successfully with a changed student body. In particular, the teaching of concepts of language education and language support should be part of all phases of teacher training and must be further developed as part of the training of teaching staff.
  • In order to provide targeted support for pupils from at-risk backgrounds and those who do not achieve minimum standards at grades 4 and 9, it is imperative that the Startchancen program planned by the Federation and the Länder is implemented as quickly as possible as a building block for schools in particularly challenging situations.

More detailed information on the measures of the Standing Conference can be found on the website of the Standing Conference (

The results of the TIMSS 2019 mathematics and science study, which was commissioned to be conducted by a scientific consortium led by Prof. Dr Knut Schwippert from the University of Hamburg, were presented in December 2019. They confirmed the level of competence that pupils in Germany had already achieved in TIMSS 2007. The Standing Conference and the BMBF have emphasised that it has been possible to maintain the level that was achieved despite the increasing heterogeneity of the body of pupils. At the same time, they pointed out the necessity of continued efforts so that all pupils, both high and low-achieving, receive the best possible individual support. The aspect of individual support should be paid greater attention within the context of the initial and continuing training of teachers.

At the same time, they pointed out the necessity of further efforts to reduce the performance differences between children from different social backgrounds.  In TIMSS 2019, students took the tests entirely on computers for the first time. The publication of the TIMSS 2023 results is scheduled for December 2024.

The results of the international primary school reading study PIRLS/IGLU 2021 were published in May 2023. They showed that pupils' reading performance has fallen since 2016 and is now average internationally.  In addition to the increasingly heterogeneous student body, the measures against the COVID-19 pandemic posed major challenges for primary schools in Germany during the reporting period. From the point of view of the Standing Conference and the BMBF, the results of the study once again underline the importance of reading and language promotion measures in the school sector and the pre-school sector. The increasing heterogeneity of the student body calls for the best possible individual support for all pupils, whereby a targeted promotion of pupils with special difficulties in reading is required. The Standing Conference already placed a special focus on primary schools in 2020. Federal and Länder initiatives such as “School gives you strength” (‘Schule macht stark’) and BiSS-Transfer support socially disadvantaged children, children with a history of migration and children at schools in socially difficult locations.

Within the framework of the joint tasks pursuant to Article 91b paragraph 2 GG (German Casic Law), the BMBF also supports the International Computer and Information Literacy Study (ICILS). The information and computer-related competences of grade 8 pupils are hereby tested in an international comparison. The Länder opened up field access to the schools for the study. According to the results, eighth-graders in Germany are in the mid-range in an international comparison, as they were in 2013, when it comes to competent use of digital media. A small proportion of young people reach the top of performance, and a third have only basic skills in using digital media. In an international comparison, the IT infrastructure and equipment in German schools and the training of teachers still have potential for expansion. Teachers use digital media in the classroom in significantly higher proportions than five years ago, although significantly less frequently than teachers in many other countries. The University of Paderborn is in charge of the performance of the current study. The publication of the results is planned for November 2024.

Monitoring and implementation of educational standards for the primary sector, the lower secondary level and the Allgemeine Hochschulreife

In order to provide a joint frame of reference for all Länder on the quality of school education, the Länder have defined certification-related educational standards for all school levels. The standards are based upon the areas of competence of the individual subject and

  • take up the basic principles of the respective subject
  • determine the subject-specific competences including basic levels of knowledge that pupils should have achieved by a certain stage of their school career
  • are aimed at systematic learning and learning in networks and thus follow the principle of cumulative acquisition of competence
  • describe expected levels of performance as part of requirement profiles
  • are related to the core area of the respective subject and provide scope for pedagogical measures taken by the schools
  • relate to a medium level of requirements
  • are illustrated by examples for test questions

The Länder have pledged to adopt the educational standards as a basis of their relevant subject-specific requirements. They want to support competence-oriented teaching and targeted individual support for all pupils by implementing the educational standards. At the same time, the Länder combine this with the claim of making school requirements on pupils more transparent, educational systems more mobile and qualifications more comparable.

There are cureently nationwide applicable educational standards that have been adopted by the Standing Conference

  • for the primary sector (grade 4) for the subject German (2022),
  • for the primary sector (grade 4) for the subject mathematics (2022)
  • for the lower secondary sector (Erster Schulabschluss and Mittlerer Schulabschluss) for the subject German (2022)
  • for the lower secondary sector (Erster Schulabschluss and Mittlerer Schulabschluss) for the subject mathematics (2022)
  • for the lower secondary sector (Erster Schulabschluss and Mittlerer Schulabschluss) for the first foreign language (English/French) (2023)
  • for the Allgemeine Hochschulreife for the subjects German, mathematics and the continued foreign language (English/French) (2012)
  • for the Allgemeine Hochschulreife for the natural science subjects (biology, chemistry and physics) (2020)

    The following nationwide educational standards are available in the new versions listed above and are still valid for a transitional period:

  • for the primary sector (grade 4) for the subjects German and mathematics (2004),
  • for the Hauptschulabschluss (grade 9) for the subjects German, mathematics and the first foreign language (English/French)(2004),
  • for the Mittlerer Schulabschluss (grade 10) for the subjects German, mathematics and the first foreign language (English/French) (2003),

The educational standards in the subjects German and mathematics from 2004 for the primary level as well as the First School Certificate and the Intermediate School Certificate were revised and further developed in 2022. The educational standards for the first foreign language for the Erster Schulabschluss from 2003 and the educational standards for the first foreign language for the Mittlerer Schulabschluss from 2004 were revised and further developed in 2023. Educational standards for the natural sciences (biology, chemistry, physics) for the Mittlerer Schulabschluss leaving certificate are currently being developed.

In June 2020, the Standing Conference established uniform performance requirements for the gymnasiale Oberstufe and the Abitur in the natural sciences in all 16 Länder. To this end, binding educational standards were adopted in the natural science subjects of biology, chemistry and physics. The educational standards for the Allgemeine Hochschulreife in the natural sciences are to be implemented in the gymnasiale Oberstufe on an incremental basis from the 2022/2023 school year. In the 2024/25 school year, the Abitur examinations in biology, chemistry and physics will be conducted nationwide on the basis of the new educational standards.

With the exception of Berufsoberschulen, which have a special profile, the educational standards adopted   for the Allgemeine Hochschulreife for the subjects German, mathematics and the continued foreign language (English/French) as well as for the three natural science subjects  apply to all courses of study leading to the general higher education entrance qualification. 

Furthermore, the specifications on the design of Abitur examinations that are binding for all Länder have been further developed for the relevant subjects. These specify the formats of tasks that can be used in the Abitur examination, define guidelines for evaluating the pupils' performance and describe framework conditions for the examinations that have to be observed.

Since the school year 2016/2017, the educational standards for the Allgemeine Hochschulreife in the subjects German, mathematics and in the advanced foreign languages (English, French) apply since the school year 2016/2017 as a binding basis for the Abitur examinations. General criteria are available for the design, correction and assessment of standard-based Abitur examination tasks and suitable written Abitur examination tasks including the necessary evaluation sheets will be provided in a pool of Abitur examination tasks. This pool has been made available to the Länder as of the school year 2016/2017 for possible use in the Abitur. This goes hand in hand with the goal of

  • aligning the tasks to the educational standards,
  • guaranteeing the comparability of the requirements level of Abitur tasks,
  • to ensure the overall quality of the Abitur examination tasks through the normative effect.

For the educational standards for the Allgemeine Hochschulreife in the three science subjects of biology, chemistry and physics, which were adopted by the Standing Conference in June 2020, a joint Abitur task pool has been set up since fall 2021, which will be used for the first time in the Abitur examinations in 2025.

The Länder and IQB work closely together in the ongoing work on the pool of Abitur examination tasks. 

The competence expectations set out in the educational standards of the Standing Conferencefor primary and lower secondary are operationalised through test tasks to verify the achievement of the educational standards and exemplary tasks to implement the educational standards in school practice. These tasks are being continuously developed under the leadership of the IQB in cooperation with teaching staff and specialists for subject-related didactics.

The IQB Educational Trends studies to verify the achievement of the educational standards (formerly: IQB Länder Comparison Study), which are aligned more to school practice in Germany than international surveys, are carried out every five years at the primary level in grade 4 and every three years at the lower secondary level in grade 9 by means of representative random samples as well as on the basis of competence level models verified with regard to teaching methodology and learning psychology. The design of the test (test domains, instruments and test cycles), which aims for continuity, guarantees valid and long-term trend observations.

The language group of subjects (German and the first foreign language: English, French) alternate with mathematics and natural sciences as the subject matter of the investigation in grade 9. The subjects German and mathematics are included in each Länder comparison in grade 4. The reports on the IQB Educational Trends study are published twelve to eighteen months after the data collection. They provide information on the extent to which the pupils have achieved the competence expectations of the educational standards.

In the IQB Educational Trend study 2021, the IQB was commissioned by the Standing Conference for the third time to investigate the extent to which fourth-graders achieve the nationwide educational standards in German and mathematics for primary school. A comparison with the results of the IQB Länder Comparison study 2011 and 2016 made it possible to examine the extent to which the competence level of pupils in the fourth grade in the individual Länder has changed over a period of ten years.The data were collected between April and August 2021, one year after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Compared to the results from 2011 and 2016, the competencies of fourth graders in German and mathematics have declined significantly nationwide. The measures taken to combat the Corona pandemic, which included long school closures, alternate teaching and distance learning, have had a negative impact on learning performance. Furthermore, the increasingly heterogeneous student body continues to pose major challenges to primary schools.

In October 2023, the results of the IQB Education Trend 2022 were published, in which the IQB examined for the third time on behalf of the Standing Conference the extent to which young people in Germany have achieved the nationally applicable educational standards in the language subjects at the end of lower secondary level. The proficiency level of ninth-graders in German fell significantly between 2015 and 2022. Compared to the reference year 2015, the proportion of young people who fail to meet the minimum standard for the Mittlerer Schulabschluss (ESA) or the Mittlerer Schulabschluss (MSA) in German in 2022 in reading, listening and spelling has increased. In particular, the level of competence in understanding spoken German has fallen significantly. This affects all pupils in year 9, but particularly young people from socio-economically disadvantaged families and young people from immigrant backgrounds.

Conversely, performance in English has improved considerably. Between 2015 and 2022, results in the middle and upper performance areas in particular improved significantly. In the lower performance range, they have remained largely unchanged.

The survey maps learning performance shortly after the end of the measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, which had massively disrupted regular lessons for almost two years.

As a basis for the implementation of the educational standards, in particular for the primary sector and lower secondary sector, the Standing Conference resolved the concept on the use of educational standards for the development of teaching (Konzeption zur Nutzung der Bildungsstandards für die Unterrichtsentwicklung) in December 2009, that describes the central areas of action for the implementation of the educational standards.

The "Concept on the implementation of educational standards for the Allgemeine Hochschulreife "('Konzeption zur Implementation der Bildungsstandards für die Allgemeine Hochschulreife') resolved by the Standing Conference in 2013, which serves as a common basis for the implementation process in the Länder and the nationwide cooperation, is available for areas of educational standards for the Allgemeine Hochschulreife. It includes, amongst other things, a systematic exchange on necessary changes to the Unterrichtsvorgaben (teaching specifications) and Prüfungsordnungen (examination regulations) of the Länder as well as on measures to support the teaching staff.

Quality assurance measures at school level

The Länder conduct Land-specific as well as cross-Länder tests, in addition to national and international performance comparisons. This includes for example measurement of language proficiency for different age groups, surveys on learning levels, or comparative studies in different grades as well as Land-specific performance comparisons. Contrary to international studies and to Educational Trends study (formerly: Länder Comparison Studies) conducted by the IQB through representative samples, comparative studies (VERA, in some Länder also called performance level study or competence test) serve to investigate the performance levels of pupils at school and class level and aim at school development and the improvement of teaching. Comparison tests are conducted in the Länder for grades 3 and 8 (VERA 3 and VERA 8) on the basis of a agreed upon by all Länder. Appropriate supporting and continuing education offers will be provided for the teaching staff.

The key function of the comparative work lies in support for the development of teaching and schools for every single school through feedback oriented on the educational standards as an assessment of its current position with reference to the results in the Länder. At the same time, comparative studies have an important mediating function for the introduction of the specialist and teaching methodology concepts of the educational standards.

Comparative studies are part of a bundle of measures with which the Länder guarantee evidence-based quality development and assurance on the level of the individual schools. These include in almost all Länder methods for an external evaluation of the individual school, within the framework of which schools receive regular and systematic feedback on strengths and weaknesses, in particular on the quality of teaching processes. Complementary to this, the Länder support the internal evaluation of schools by providing corresponding methods and counselling. So-called reference frameworks for school quality and/or quality tableaus are available in the Länder as points of reference for this; these are based on both the findings of empirical educational research and Länder-specific normative specifications.

Joint education reporting by the Federation and the Länder

Education reporting is a key part of the joint tasks pursuant to Art. 91b paragraph 2 of the German Basic Law along with participation in international school performance comparisons. The report Bildung in Deutschland (education in Germany) is prepared every two years under the responsibility of an academically independent group of authors under the leadership of the DIPF | Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education (DIPF | Leibniz-Institut für Bildungsforschung und Bildungsinformation).

Under the guiding principle of "Bildung im Lebenslauf" (education in the CV) the education report systematically presents developments in the various fields of the educational system, from the elementary via the school sector, vocational education and training and university education right through to continuing education in adulthood. In this way, reliable information is provided on framework conditions as well as the progress and results and/or yields of educational processes. The particular importance of the education report lies in the fact that it shows the interaction between the different educational areas and identifies overriding challenges in the German educational system. Since 2006, the education report has thus served as an important basis for decisions on education policy and ensures transparency on the situation in the educational system as a whole.

The core of education reporting is a certain set of indicators, each of which reflects a key aspect of an educational area in its various manifestations. The performance indicators on which this is based are primarily drawn from official statistics, though also scientific surveys. Continuing the performance indicators over time allows a systematic report on the develop-ment of the educational system as a whole as well as its respective areas over time.

In order to allow a comparison with developments in member states of the European Union and OECD (e.g. Education at a Glance of the OECD), certain indicators are aligned to international reports. Furthermore, the contents of the report are differentiated according to various Länder depending on the data situation.

Each education report contains a feature chapter on a topic of special significance for educational policy that is dealt with in more depth and presented across all educational areas. The education report has focused on the following key topics since 2006:

  • Education and migration (2006),
  • Transitions: school – vocational education and training – university – employment market (2008),
  • Perspectives for the educational system in demographic change (2010),
  • Cultural/musical-aesthetic education in a CV (2012),
  • People with disabilities in the educational system (2014),
  • Education and migration (2016),
  • Effects and benefits from education (2018),
  • Education in a digitalised world (2020),
  • Education staff: structure, development, quality and professionalisation (2022),
  • Vocational and education and training (2024).
  • Inequality in education

Apart from the report Bildung in Deutschland there are now also a number of Länder-specific and regional education reports that are based on the Bildung in Deutschland report in terms of their conceptual orientation, choice of indicators and even the structure of their chapters.

The comprehensive strategy as a basis for application-related knowledge for educational policy and pedagogical practice

The comprehensive strategy of the Standing Conference for educational monitoring creates important premises for an even greater use of instruments to monitor the results and yields of educational processes so as to provide application-related knowledge for educational policy and practice. The key question here is how developments in the educational system can not only be described but also explained with the help of test methods and further empirical data. This should be linked to concrete tips on what has to be done to solve the problems that have been identified wherever possible.

The Standing Conference has agreed on subjects for research of key importance for educational policy that are regularly updated and which relate to key practical questions for the development of schools and teaching.

In the year 2021, the Standing Conference has concretized its research topics. The current topics are of particular relevance:

  • Development of teaching in the context of digitisation
  • Speaking, writing, reading, listening
  • Dealing with the heterogeneity and individual learning prerequisites
  • Data-supported teaching development

    The experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic should be taken into account for all research topics, and accompanying professionalisation research appears desirable for all suitable research topics.

The subjects for research of the Länder related to these thematic areas are taken into account as far as possible within the framework of the IQB programme of work as well as the ZIB. In addition, available scientific results and findings should be used more in future to answer questions of key importance for educational policy. In this context, the task of the Land institutes and quality institutions of the Länder lies in processing and distributing research knowledge in cooperation with academic and scientific institutions for schools, education administration and educational policy in a manner that is appropriate for the addressees.

The BMBF supports efforts to ensure the performance of the educational system and the quality of education within the framework of general institutional research support, e.g. the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft – DFG), the Max-Planck Society (Max-Planck-Gesellschaft – MPG) or the Leibniz Association (Wissenschaftsgemeinschaft Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz – WGL), in the context of departmental research, e.g. the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung - BIBB) and through support for projects. The Framework Programme for Empirical Educational Research (Rahmenprogramm empirische Bildungsforschung) funds research projects that can make important contributions to overcoming challenges in the field of education – for example with regard to improving educational equity, dealing with diversity, quality development or actively shaping digitisation in the field of education. Current research includes, language education, the dismantling of educational barriers, digitisation in the field of education as well as inclusive education, and cultural education, as well as the protection of children and young people from sexualised violence in educational contexts. The funded research programmes include all stages and areas of education, including non-formal and informal learning opportunities.