Documentation of Starting Cohort Grade 9 (SC4)

Version 11.0.0


Here you find information on the former versions 10.0.0, 9.1.1, 9.1.0, 9.0.0, 7.0.0, 6.0.0, 4.0.0, 1.1.0 and 1.0.0.

Date of Release

  • 2020-11-13



The lower secondary level plays a connecting role between elementary school and the general or vocational upper secondary level (or directly entering the job market). Nevertheless, important questions could not be clearly and conclusively answered yet because of the lack of appropriate data. This pertains, for example, to the type of school chosen, to switches to another type of school, or to the grade repetition but also to the central issue of paths through lower secondary level and the transition into upper secondary level.

In this study of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS), representatively selected students who attend regular or special needs schools and are willing to participate are questioned and tested in annual waves of studies. For students of the starting cohort of ninth graders the first survey was carried out in fall/winter 2010. Additional surveys scheduled for spring 2011 and spring 2012 are target at students who will be dropping out of school after grade 9 or 10 but who will remain within an educational institution. In general, the plan is to follow up students within the school track in which they were sampled until they leave this school or the general school system. Data will be collected on the educational paths of students attending regular schools as well as on students attending special needs schools. After leaving school, these students will be further questioned and tested individually outside the educational institution. The testing and questioning of individuals requiring special education is a challenge because only rudimentary experiences with such measures have been made so far. In addition to the questioning and testing of students, the questioning of context persons such as parents, teachers, and school headmasters is planned. Competence tests cover several domains: language (spelling, reading, and listening comprehension in German, knowledge of first language and English in students with migration background), mathematics, sciences, and metacompetencies (ICT competence and cognitive problem-solving ability).

The central questions of this study include the development of students' competencies, the conditions and prerequisites of educational processes, and possible individual consequences, such as career choice, labor market returns or simply personal satisfaction. The survey instrument includes questions about conditions, prerequisites, and benefits of education, as well as questions on support from parents, family background, school atmosphere, learning strategies, afternoon activities, vocational training, and, if applicable, also about migration history and linguistic context. The teachers' and school management questionnaires at the participating regular and special needs schools collect, for example, data on class size, composition, and school equipment but also questions about teaching in general. One further issue concerns training offered to support students at the start of their careers, such as training for job interviews.

Principal Investigator








Below you will find detailed additional information regarding the surveys, instruments and data from the Starting Cohort Grade 9. This documentation refers to the version 11.0.0 and will be updated successively. In case of questions, simply contact the Research Data Center.

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Data Manual (more) ZIP
Release Notes (more) TXT-en
Study Overview (more) PDF-de PDF-en
Survey Instruments (more) ZIP
Information on Competence Tests (more) ZIP
Semantic Data Structure File (more) ZIP
Codebook (more) PDF-de PDF-en
Glossary (more) PDF-en
Samples, Weights, Nonresponse (more) ZIP
Report on the Edition of Spell Data (more) PDF-de PDF-en
Generated Variables on Education (more) PDF-en
Regional data (more) ZIP
Merging Matrix (more) XLX
Anonymization Procedures (more) PDF-en
Field Reports (more) ZIP
Interviewer Manuals (more) ZIP

Starting Cohort Grade 9

Access the Data

The download of NEPS data presupposes a valid Data Use Agreement. Eligible applicants are all individuals in possession of a university degree employed by a scientific institution. Data access is free of charge.

(external) Data Access Request Forms

Registered data users can download the NEPS Scientific Use Files by logging in to the website with their personal nu-number and password.

(external) Data Download Center

More Information

In addition to the overview on this site, we offer further information about the data from Starting Cohort 4 (Grade 9):