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Implementation of assessment policy - Germany

Due to Germany’s federal structure the implementation of assessment is very multifaceted: Not only does it vary in form, but also in the degree of its realisation.

Different forms of implementation

Within the compass of measures for the improvement of linguistic competence in the pre-school sector, the range of methodical instruments for the diagnosis and improvement of linguistic skills is currently being further developed. Important instruments in this regard are the assessment of the stage of linguistic competence before school entrance and, if necessary, subsequent language promotion courses. These and other measures are designed to particularly support migrant children and children with deficits in language development as well as to compensate for social disadvantages. 

The primary school focuses on monitoring the individual development and performance of each pupil on a constant basis, as well as their working and social behaviour, and assessing these factors comprehensively. Educational progress is normally examined by constant monitoring of the learning processes and by the use of oral and written controls. 

Inclusive education for pupils with special educational needs

Pupils with special educational needs can attend mainstream schools provided that the required special educational assistance, practical support and the right physical environment are guaranteed. Special education teachers are deployed at Sonderschulen and at mainstream schools that meet special educational needs, e.g. by providing mobile assistance and guidance and co-operative instruction with another teacher in inclusive classes. Apart from the external environment, this also requires qualified special education teachers, individualised forms of planning, carrying out and monitoring the teaching process and co-ordinated co-operation between the teaching and specialist staff involved. Special education is provided during class lessons and, if necessary, alongside lessons. 

Special education in the form of co-operative measures

Many Sonderschulen and mainstream schools are in the process of developing close educational co-operation. This can greatly benefit both lessons and the general life of the school. Also, this trend expands the opportunities for changing between school types and educational courses, increases the proportion of joint lessons and encourages the transfer of pupils from Sonderschulen to mainstream schools. By holding special school classes and mainstream school classes on the same premises a suitable basis for co-operation can be created. 

Special education at Sonderschulen:

Pupils whose special educational needs cannot be met within a mainstream school receive instruction either at Sonderschulen, at Berufsschulen with special emphasis on different types of special education or at comparable institutions. 

Special education within special education units:

The aim of special education units (sonderpädagogische Förderzentren), either as regional or supraregional institutions, is to meet individual special needs or a range of different needs (e.g. physical and motor development, hearing and sight, and so on) and to guarantee special education in integrative, in-patient and co-operative forms. This form of education is based as near to the home as possible and provided by specialists. Within the scope of the responsibility of special education units for preventive measures, support is provided even before the determination of special educational needs has taken place, sometimes as early as Kindergarten.

Quality Features of Expert Opinions in Theory and Practice

SEN expert opinions are considered the most important documents in Germany from which the quality of SEN assessment can be construed, provided these opinions regard initial diagnostics and the allocation of resources (cf. 1.1.2).  Earlier empirical studies show that in practice special educational needs are traditionally diagnosed with methods which fail to comply with the latest policy provisions. An examination of expert opinions from the nineties, for instance, showed that less than 50 % of the reports actually proposed support measures. To what extent this report practice has evolved since 1994, when the educational innovations were introduced, has not yet been comprehensively examined. A detailed comparative study of a representative selection of expert opinions, which were established in four northern Länder between 2000 and 2002, shows that on a practical level the educational guidelines can by no means be regarded as fulfilled. 

The following two examples confirm these observations: According to the before mentioned comparative study nearly 80 % of all contemporary expert opinions contain SEN proposals in various forms. However, most of these proposals are so vague and poorly differentiated that they hardly seem appropriate to justify recommendations of learning venues as required (cf.1.1.2). Besides, the examined expert opinions fail to take into account the children’s environment. Instead, they nearly all focus on the individual preconditions of the children, whereas only 15 % of the expert opinions, if at all, take into account their educational environment. Therefore, educational guidelines of central issue such as a supportive and environmental orientation can by no means be regarded as implemented.

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