In many federal states of the German Federal Republic, changes concerning the structure and contents of the upper Gymnasium level (the final years in upper secondary education leading to a higher education entrance qualification) are taking place. For example, the school uration period will be cut from 9 years (G9) down to 8 years (G8). The reduction from 9 to 8 years combined with a reorientation of the study schedule was also implemented in Baden-Wuerttemberg in 2004. This supplementary study of the NEPS aims to study in particular these changes and to record its effects. The plan is to examine the impact of the reduced 8 years of Gymnasium time on the students’ performance level and motivation.
The last cohort of students entered the curriculum-oriented (i.e., input-oriented) G9 in fall 2003, whereas one year later, in fall 2004, the first cohort of students entered the outcome-oriented G8, which focuses on reaching educational standards (Bildungstandards). These two year groups will take their Abitur exam in 2012 and are attending the same course level (during the last two school years). The G8 reform study in Baden-Wuerttemberg consists of three cross-sections, that means, it is not a panel survey. During the three survey waves, the graduating classes are tested and questioned:
(1) Abitur year 2010/11, in which almost all students attended school for 13 years. (With the exception of 15 % of the students who could voluntarily choose a shorter time in secondary school before the official implementation of G8).
(2) Abitur year 2011/12, in which G8 as well as G9 students graduate (Doppeljahrgang)
(3) Abitur year 2012/13, which is the first group of students who take their Abitur examination after 12 years of school.
In addition to this survey, the students will also undergo competence tests in English, mathematics, biology, and physics. Tests, specifically developed for the NEPS, are used for measuring cognitive abilities. Furthermore, at the end of the school year the schools will be asked to provide the grades of the course level as well as the Abitur examination results. Supplementary to surveys and tests for students, the heads of the department of mathematics, German, and English, as well as the adminstrative staff are interviewed to receive information about learning environment and structural conditions.