Evaluation of the Step-by-Step Concept in Inter-Grade Learning (JüL) at the Reform School Kassel

The “Reformschule Kassel” is an integrated comprehensive school with all grades of primary school level up to the 10th school year. The catchment area is in the middle-class milieu, and about 60 percent of a class go on to the upper secondary level after the 10th school year and doing the A-levels (Abitur). The learning groups are organized in four levels with mixed-grade instruction. Children start school at the age of five, so that grade I, which is also the school entry grade, includes children in grades 0 to 2. In grade II, students from grades 3 to 5 learn together, and in grade III, students from grades 6 to 8 learn together. Level IV comprises years 9 and 10. The school is also characterized by extensive project-oriented learning from grade II onwards, which is already laid down in grade I. The children are taught to develop their learning skills up to and including grade 8. Up to and including grade 8, learning development reports are formulated in place of grade reports.

As an experimental school, the school is particularly interested in an evaluation of the graduating concept within the framework of a cooperation with the University of Kassel. The evaluation examines two questions: on the one hand, how students and their parents evaluate the mixed-grade learning and the associated grade concept, and on the other hand, what effects the grade transitions have on various aspects of the students' behavior and experience. To this end, all students at the Reform School were surveyed longitudinally in the spring and fall of 2015, approximately three months before and three months after the transition, using a specially developed questionnaire. In addition to academic well-being, learning motivation, work and social behavior, academic self-concept, self-regulated learning, transition competence, and sociometric data of the students were collected. The parent questionnaire collected data on school satisfaction and reasons for school choice, school aspirations, and attitudes toward the reform school's stage concept, among other things. The data from parents and students are matched for evaluation purposes.