Representatives of special needs schools, special education associations and the National Institute for School Quality and Educational Research (ISB) from Munich accepted the invitation by Managing Project Director and Principal Investigator of the NEPS, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans-Peter Blossfeld, to visit Bamberg. In the main coordination office of the biggest German educational study, the Executive Director of Research, Dr. Jutta von Maurice, first gave an overview of the project’s general layout.
In a second presentation, NEPS member and research associate in the field of special needs schools, Jana Heydrich, then explained the main features of the inquiries which were developed for pupils at special needs schools. For two reasons, the National Educational Panel Study has focused on pupils with severe learning difficulties among this group. First, those pupils form the majority of pupils at special needs schools and second, they can be described as a risk group because 70% of those pupils leave school without a leaving certificate of the Hauptschule (school for basic secondary education). This raises questions about their occupational perspectives. For the first time, the NEPS study will make it possible to collect a representative sample of life-course data about pupils attending special needs schools. The availability of such data is unprecedented. Simultaneously, the study is supposed to show to which extent the measurement of competencies for this target group is comparable and significant. Beyond that, the NEPS also takes into account current developments in the entire school system in Germany. On behalf of all the schools and institutions, Jana Heydrich took the opportunity to thank all the representatives in attendance, because without their participation and support it would not have been possible to carry out these studies.
During a third presentation, Cornelia Gresch, who is a research associate of the NEPS at the WZB in Berlin, introduced the project "Inclusively Educated Students with SEN in the National Educational Panel Study” (IntFös). The aim of this sub-project within the scope of the National Educational Panel Study is to examine the possibilities of looking at special needs pupils who are being taught at regular schools as a single target group within the NEPS. Due to the fact that there are not that many inclusively educated students, they are underrepresented by the initial samples of the National Educational Panel Study. This situation leads to the necessity of drawing a separate sample (oversampling). Moreover, the NEPS develops indicators which help to show how integrated pupils are. As a result of the different systems and practices by the 16 federal states, differently designed to integrate or include, this endeavor can be described as very complex.
Within the course of the event, a vivid exchange of ideas ensued, in which common questions and further possibilities of cooperation were discussed. The event was a prelude to a whole series of meetings with the key issue of special needs pupils.