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The German Education System Needs More Transparency: RatSWD Calls for an Education Progress Register

The German Data Forum (RatSWD) published its position paper "Establishing an education progress register: data protection compliant and research-friendly". In the paper, the RatSWD calls for the establishment of an education progress register in order to close the current data gaps in education research and thus catch up in international comparisons. Only with an education trajectory register that links existing data can education trajectories be systematically analyzed. This will enable evidence-based recommendations for improving the education system.

The RatSWD calls for the rapid creation of a cross-national dataset for individual student data in the longitudinal section that is linked to the data of the course of study statistics and the education statistics. These data should be made available for research. Following the example of other European countries, the data should be linkable to other registers and also to other research data such as survey studies.

The RatSWD appeals to political decision-makers at the federal and state levels to establish an education progress register as soon as possible and to make it accessible to research on a regular and non-discriminatory basis. Only this will ensure the transparency and quality of scientific statements. Access to the data must, of course, ensure the protection of the individual, as stipulated in the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

“Meaningful and transparent data on educational progress is key to improving our education system. Germany can and should not afford to delay the development of a corresponding database any longer. We owe this to all those who will pass through the German education system in the future,” explains Prof. Dr. Monika Jungbauer-Gans, Chair of the RatSWD.

Prof. Dr. Kerstin Schneider, educational economist and deputy chairwoman of the RatSWD adds: “Our goal is not the transparent student, but a transparent, efficient education system that offers equal opportunities. To achieve this, we must learn from the past and recognize potential. And the best way to do that is with scientifically sound findings, for which reliable and comprehensive data are the prerequisite.”


The German Data Forum (RatSWD) advises the federal government and the governments in the federal states on expanding and improving the research data infrastructure for the empirical social, behavioural and economic sciences since 2004. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) is made up of ten elected representatives from the social, behavioural, and economic disciplines who work together with ten representatives from key data producers.

The German Data Forum (RatSWD) is part of the Consortium for Social, Behavioural, Educational, and Economic sciences (KonsortSWD) in the National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI). It acts as an institutionalised forum for dialogue between science and data producers, as well as developing recommendations and opinions. It is committed to supporting an infrastructure that enables sciences to have broad, flexible, and secure data access. These data are provided by state, science-based, and private-sector actors. The German Data Forum (RatSWD) has currently accredited 41 research data centres , and encourages their cooperation.

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