Right at the start of elementary schooling, the achievement potentials of children are extremely heterogeneous. Whether elementary school can in fact reduce these differences between children over the course of time, and if so, to what extent, is something that is still unexplained. In most of Germany's Federal States, elementary school lasts for only 4 years. After this, children transfer to one of several types of lower secondary school (Sekundarstufe I) which all teach different curricula leading to school-leaving qualifications of varying utility. These differences are what makes the transition into the differentiated school system of such enormous significance for children's future life course.
Major research questions during the elementary school stage include:
- How do competencies develop during elementary school? Which factors strengthen or reduce the relationship between social and ethnic origins and competencies attained over time?
- To what extent are education decisions made by parents at the end of elementary school an outcome of their child's academic performance ("primary origin effects" and school effects), of parental resources and education goals ("secondary origin effects"), or an outcome of institutional framing conditions ("parental free choice," types of school available, etc.)?
- Which strategies and decisions can be observed when a child's academic performance fails to match the parents' education aspirations?
- What influence does the more homogeneous composition of school classes in the differentiated school system compared with elementary school have on the school and classroom climate, the academic self-concept, and the development of competencies in the child?
In special cooperation with: