NEPS Stage 2/3 – From Kindergarten and Elementary School to Lower Secondary Education

From Kindergarten to Elementary School


In 2010, 96 percent of all four-year-olds in Germany attended Kindergarten. Within the scope of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS), the important transition from the home environment to learning environments outside the family is recorded with all its effects on further developments. In this context, comprehensive, theory-guided surveys of children (as respondents), their parents, and, if possible, staff and managers of the Kindergartens they attend are conducted. 


This makes it possible to analyze the competence development and educational trajectories of this age group in a comprehensive way. What influence do specific learning environments—such as Kindergarten, elementary school, and family—have in this context? What do the transitions from Kindergarten to elementary school and related educational decisions look like? With the collected data it will be possible, for example, to analyze the extent and the significance of social and ethnic disparities already in this important phase of life.


From Elementary School to a Type of Lower Secondary School


Children’s performances right at the beginning of elementary school are extremely heterogeneous. So far, it has not been clarified whether and to what extent elementary school can reduce the differences between children over time. In most German Federal States, elementary school lasts for four years. Afterwards, children change to a type of lower secondary school with different curricula and unequally profitable degrees. Therefore, the transition to the hierarchically tiered school system is enormously significant for the children’s future life course.


This particular phase within the educational biography raises a number of interesting questions, such as for example: How do competencies develop during elementary school? What factors strengthen or reduce the correlation between social and ethnic origin and the acquired competencies over time? To what extent are the parents’ educational decisions at the end of elementary school a result of their children’s educational achievements, parents’ resources and educational aspirations, and the institutional framework conditions? What strategies and decisions can be observed when the child’s educational performance does not match parents’ expectations? 


Contact: neps-etappe-2-3(at)


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