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Features of best assessment practice - Germany

The German school system is still a system that is structured according to performance requirements. All attempts hitherto to change this school structure which was implemented in 1798 have failed. Nevertheless, the entire school movement of the seventies has resulted in the development and implementation of various forms of integration of disabled and fringe pupils into mainstream schools. Hence, in 2003 according to the KMK (Ständige Konferenz der Kultusminister aller Bundesländer – Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder) statistics, 12.9% of the pupils with special educational needs were educated in inclusive classrooms in mainstream schools. Consequently, diagnostics and thus school “assessment” in Germany inevitably have two sides: (1) Firstly, children with perceived learning and developmental problems have to be examined for special educational needs. Then (and this applies to a predominant ratio of 87.1%) it is to be justified that these special needs can be fulfilled only in a school for special education. This form of assessment is a prospective diagnostic, which with the predominant use of personal analysis models, tries to predict the future educational course based on the existing school structures. (2) The second form of diagnostics approaches what is understood by “assessment” in inclusive contexts. According to German terminology it is evaluative diagnostics accompanying the learning process which could be the constituting feature of good classroom teaching, but which is seldom consciously used and elaborated in the possible and desirable form. In particular, in classes and even in schools where integration with same objective or a different objective is practiced, there is already a tradition of school assessment, which can be integrated internationally in countries where there has been major progress in the implementation of the inclusive concept. The characteristics of such an assessment include:

  • Assessment is a constituent of pedagogic activities for motivating and accompanying learning and developmental processes for all pupils in a class.
  • Assessment is a systematic form of acquiring knowledge, forming and testing hypotheses.
  • Pupils are not only the objects of the teaching process, but also participate as the subjects and actors of their development.
  • Furthermore, parents, teachers, the class community and the school as a system are also actively involved.
  • The objective is to create conditions for pupils in the class system which would facilitate the next development steps.
  • Therefore, a good assessment consists in stock taking, planning the next pedagogic activities derived from it and the next possible development steps for pupils. An evaluation of the implemented plans follows.
  • The German education plan must depict the two sides of the planning event, namely as the “Individual educational (development) Plan (IEP)” and the “Planning of Pedagogic Activities (PPA)”.
  • Educational planning follows the pedagogic phase as an attempt to implement the planned specifications. The pedagogic phase will be constantly evaluated with relation to the designed objectives. IEP and PPA will be customised and modified based on the results of the evaluation.
  • IEP and PPA are syllabus-oriented. The syllabus is thus based not only on the fulfilment of demands with relation to the school learning objects, but also on personality development.
  • The systematic extrapolation of the IEP results in a “logbook” recording the development process and the development stages and, at the end of a form, in a portfolio. In the medium and long term this portfolio could replace the traditional school report.
  • Assessment takes place under a systemic perspective involving all persons who impact the pupils in an internal and extra scholastic context. The object of the assessment thus includes all individual, personal, psycho-social and material living conditions of the child in different scholastic and social environments.
  • Assessment is both normative and formative and applies quantitative and qualitative methods that might provide answers to respective questions on development accompaniment.
  • Assessment is conducted on the background of a social science model and with the belief that communication and co-operation and subsequently human behaviour in the social community essentially influence the learning and development processes. Linear, medical models are important only in so far as health problems and mental and physical impairments, which condition human behaviour, must be the object of the assessment for understanding the current development stages and development processes.
  • Assessment in the inclusive context results in integrated and additional forms of educational support based on providing pupils with what they need most to further their education. 

Policy that supports best practice

  • Schools must be obliged to use the IEP and PPA tool systematically and to evaluate and document its use regularly.
  • Schools must have the freedom and autonomy to organise their work consistently with these control elements.
  • The school administration must conduct regular advanced training on assessment issues and award corresponding points for it in a credit system yet to be developed.
  • The school administration must develop an internal and external evaluation system. A successful evaluation not only lays emphasis on external appraisers, but also on the analytic expertise and responsibility of the colleagues in the system. The results of external evaluation must be prepared in such a way that they can be made available to schools as an advanced perspective of school development.
  • The object of the internal and external evaluation must be the quality of the pedagogic processes, the results achieved on the side of the teaching staff qualification and the learning results achieved through the pupils.
  • Special needs diagnostics must be an obligatory part of the school programme.
  • It must be guaranteed that pupils receive the educational support they actually need, whereby the kind of stimulation required (without under or over challenging the pupils) will be examined according to qualified and state-of-the-art methods.
  • It must be ensured that special needs diagnostics are carried out in a team (pupils, parents and classroom teachers) by integrating the Special teachers of the support centre and other actors.
  • It must be ensured that awareness change processes are supported by incentives.
  • It must be ensured that educational research for developing various methods and procedures for special needs diagnostics in education is carried out in the German-speaking regions and that the results are shared and disseminated. In the same manner, it must be ensured that research results from other countries are made accessible in Germany.

 

Source:

  • KMK (Sekretariat der Ständigen Konferenz der Kultusminister der Länder in der Bundesrepublik Deutsch¬land): Bildungsbericht für Deutschland Zusammenfassung. DIPF (Deutsches Institut für internationale Pädagogische Forschung. Frankfurt 2003 Bildungsbericht
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