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Implementing new Governance Structures in School Systems: the Example of Centralised Exams for Higher Education Qualifications

Implementing new governance structures in school systems: the example of centralised exams for higher education qualifications

Project description

Education systems in German-speaking countries are currently characterised by a systematic restructuring of administrative governing mechanisms. A focal motif concerns the introduction and continuous assessment of achievement standards. For Germany, a particularly striking example for these reforms which can be compared for all the federal states concerns the introduction of centralised exams for the higher education entry qualification (Abitur).

The introduction of a centrally organised exam system is particularly suitable for assessing implementation processes and effects in the context of new governing methods.

The Study

The study “Implementing new governance structures in school systems: the example of centralised exams for higher education qualifications“ is conducted by Prof. Dr. Katharina Maag Merki in collaboration with the German Institute for International Educational Research in Frankfurt (Prof. Dr. Eckhard Klieme).
It links up to completed comprehensive assessments dating from 2005 to 2007 and is funded by the German Research Foundation from 2008 onwards for an initial duration of two years. 


This study aims to assess the introduction of centrally organised higher education qualification exams as one element in the new concept of system governance from a differential perspective, for the federal states of Bremen and Hesse, where these centralised exams were introduced simultaneously in spring 2007. We focus on implementation processes and the effects this reform bears on individuals, instruction, school and education systems.


Questionnaires are sent to school managers, teachers and students from 40 schools that have been selected following specific criteria and we also take into account achievement tests for the subjects of mathematics or English. Two assessments will be conducted per year (prior to, and following, the pertinent exam). Furthermore, we will conduct a qualitative case analysis in one grammar school relating to several focus groups. Hence, the research project proves to be innovative regarding its methodological design (by connecting survey-based research with an analysis of data from state statistics and qualitative case studies).


Prof. Dr. Katharina Maag Merki

Project Management

Prof. Dr. Eckhard Klieme

Project Details

Completed projects
2008 – 2010
External funding
Department: Educational Quality and Evaluation
last modified Aug 02, 2017