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Reducing barriers to education through needs-oriented resource allocation




The project examines to what extent a needs-oriented allocation of state funds can contribute to reducing educational barriers in Germany and thus potentially promote social participation. In the context of needs-oriented resource allocation, schools in challenging circumstances receive additional resources for their work – for example, in the form of additional teacher positions or school social workers. The systematic knowledge about the effectiveness of needs-oriented resource allocation gained in this project is particularly useful for educational administrators and practitioners to further shape the reform approach. Close cooperation with four municipalities allows the findings to flow directly into the implementation of needs-oriented resource allocation; further measures (e.g., workshop, conference, publications) also ensure a transfer to the wider community.



(Inter)national findings repeatedly show that, in addition to individual primary and secondary effects of origin, contextual factors (learning group, school, social space) are also decisive for educational opportunities. Needs-oriented resource allocation is one possibility to create equal educational and life chances. With the aim of "treating unequal things unequally", many German states and municipalities are already implementing a differentiated resource allocation. Although needs-oriented resource allocation has become the subject of both academic and public debate in Germany, its implementation and effects have hardly been systematically studied so far.



The project is divided into three closely interlinked subprojects, which together pursue a mixed-methods approach:

The research design and the research questions

(1) Overview of the forms of needs-oriented resource allocation: In subproject 1, we will first identify which municipalities and federal states have already set up needs-oriented resource allocation and what form and financial scope this takes. Based on this, a typology of needs-oriented resource allocation will be developed, which will bundle the different approaches.

(2) Investigation of institutional settings and processes: Within the framework of contrastive case studies in four municipalities, subproject 2 will use the documentary method to investigate how and with which orientation patterns relevant decision-makers implement the idea of "treating unequal things unequally". The knowledge bases used for this purpose (e.g., use of a social index or a small-scale education report) are of particular importance.

(3) Empirical analysis of the effects: In subproject 3, we will conduct a quantitative empirical analysis to determine the effects of needs-based resource allocation at the school level. Within the framework of trend comparisons (based on difference-in-differences models), effects on school quality and student performance will be measured.


Data collection and processing

For the overview of the forms of needs-oriented resource allocation, we will systematically review and continuously document web sites, legal ordinances, databases and other information materials of municipalities and federal states. The focus here is on cities with small-scale education reports that can provide policymakers and administrators with a basis for a needs-based allocation of resources. To investigate institutional settings and processes, a maximum of 12 interviews we will conduct and transcribe in each of the four municipalities with the decision-makers responsible for monetary and personnel resource allocation. The quasi-experimental investigation of the effects will be based on official statistics. In order to examine the effects on school quality, we will analyze, for example, data on class size, student-teacher ratios and absenteeism. The consequences for student performance will be analyzed, among other things, using data on school track recommendations, class repetitions or school leavers without a lower secondary school certificate. Data preparation is generally done at the individual school level. The resulting data set can be supplemented with small-scale data on the spatial units (e.g., statistical districts) surrounding these schools.


Project profile

Project partners
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Project lead at RUB
Project lead at RUB
Project Coordination



Edelstein, B., Sendzik, N., Hermstein, B., & Racherbäumer, K. (Hrsg.). (2023). Was kann die Einzelschule gegen Bildungsungleichheit ausrichten? DDS – Die Deutsche Schule 115(3).
Sendzik, N., Edelstein, B., Hermstein, B., & Racherbäumer, K. (2023). Editorial zum Schwerpunktthema: Was kann die Einzelschule gegen Bildungsungleichheit ausrichten? Eine kritische Auseinandersetzung mit Prämissen, Ansätzen und Praktiken der Schulentwicklung(sforschung). DDS – Die Deutsche Schule, 115(3), 177-188.

Notes on data collection and preparation

At LIfBi, Nina Seelig and Stefan Kumme support the work in subprojects 1 and 3. They can be reached at the following e-mail address: