The development of special education in the West German Länder: Recommendations and organizational conditions.

Resource Type
Dataset : Survey and aggregate data
  • Dietze, Torsten (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Institut für Rehabilitationswissenschaften, Abt: Pädagogik bei Beeinträchtigungen des Lernens und Allgemeine Rehabilitationspädagogik)
Publication Date
  • ZA:
    • Education, School Systems
    • Historical Social Research
  • Abstract

    In the school year 2017/18, about 317,000 students with ascertained “special educational needs” have been taught in “special schools” (german: “Sonderschule” or “Förderschule”) in Germany. These special schools are still the place of study for about 6 of 10 of all students with special educational needs. Despite these high numbers of students, the actual organizational conditions at the special schools are hardly in the focus of special pedagogical research. The content of this thesis, therefore, is to elaborate on the development of the special education system with regard to its real organizational conditions in the light of national educational policy recommendations (Western Germany). On the one hand the database consists of publications by national actors in the school system, in particular the KMK (Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder) and the special education association VDS (today’s name: Verband Sonderpädagogik e. V.), and on the other hand it consists of the official school statistics data of the Federal Statistical Office and the statistical offices of the Länder as well as the statistics on special education of the KMK. The educational policy recommendations are being compared to the real development. This is done for each defined individual main area of support. Thus, special-purpose research is added to the existing pedagogic research. The research is supplemented by further analyses, such as the proportion of boarding schools or the importance of private schools. (Dietze, Th. 2019,Entwicklung des Sonderschulwesens.) The central questions dealt with in this paper are: - Which organisational standards were formulated by national actors for the individual types of special schools before and after 1945 in the West German Länder? - Which school organisational conditions were implemented in the individual types of special schools from 1955 to 2012? (Dietze, Th. 2019, Entwicklung des Sonderschulwesens, p. 16) This part of the question is answered with the help of official statistics and the KMK statistics. - Due to the different organisational structure of the school system in the GDR from 1945 to 1990, the GDR and the New Länder are not included in the statistical analysis from 1991 onwards. (Dietze, Th. 2019, Entwicklung des Sonderschulwesens¸ p. 17) In particular, the official school statistics and the KMK statistics serve as data sources for the analyses. The data sources are characterised by specific survey methods, which have an impact on the analysis. The Federal Statistical Office´s school statistics are based on data compiled by statistical authorities set up specifically for this purpose in the individual German federal states (=Länder). Accordingly, the Statistical Offices of the Länder are the main providers of the statistical survey and processing tasks. They forward the data to the Federal Statistical Office, where they are compiled and published. (Dietze, Th. 2019, Entwicklung des Sonderschulwesens, p. 95) The KMK has been publishing its own statistical information on special education since 1960. The KMK statistics are based on compilations of data and surveys in the individual ministries of education. The KMK statistics and the official school statistics publish as far as possible the same key figures. In some cases, however, more differentiated data are also published in the KMK statistics. In the KMK statistics, for example, a distinction is made according to the type of special school. The author uses official statistics for his analysis where both statistics report the same ratios. If the KMK publications provide additional information, the author uses the KMK data. (Dietze, Th. 2019, Entwicklung des Sonderschulwesens, p. 95) In addition, publications from the individual federal states are used to clarify the country-specific organisational standards (school directories and school statistics of the federal states). These sources publish indicators that are not part of the Federal Statistical Office´s school statistics or the KMK statistics (e.g. schools with residential accommodation). Another data source is the national education report "Education in Germany 2014". In order to maintain a long-term development trend, the data have been collected since 1955 in a 3-year interval (1958, 1961, 1964, ...). School statistics and KMK statistics have only been available in digital form since 2000, so that for previous years the statistics were collected from printed sources. Since Saarland has only belonged to the Federal Republic of Germany since 1957, statistics from 1957 onwards are included here. Likewise, West Berlin was not included in the statistics until 1962. However, the author was able to collect statistical data for West Berlin from 1955 onwards and include them in his analysis. From 1990/91 the Federal Statistical Office published Berlin´s school statistics only for the entire city state. Since Berlin as a city-state is considered one of the new federal states, the author did not include Gesamt-Berlin in his analysis after 1990. (Dietze, Th. 2019, Entwicklung des Sonderschulwesens, p. 96) With the exclusion of 1986, data on the number of private special schools by federal state are also available in the school statistics for the entire period under review. The reporting by type for private schools was ceased in 1975, so that only the total number of private special schools is known. The KMK statistics do not report on private special schools. (Dietze, Th. 2019, p. 100)
Temporal Coverage
  • 1955 / 2016
Geographic Coverage
  • Germany (DE)
Data and File Information
  • Number of Variables: 527
A - Data and documents are released for academic research and teaching.
All metadata from GESIS DBK are available free of restriction under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication. However, GESIS requests that you actively acknowledge and give attribution to all metadata sources, such as the data providers and any data aggregators, including GESIS. For further information see
Alternative Identifiers
  • ZA8707 (Type: ZA-No.)
  • Dietze, Thorsten, 2019: Die Entwicklung des Sonderschulwesens in den westdeutschen Ländern – Empfehlungen und Organisationsbedingungen. Julius Klinkhardt, Bad Heilbrunn.

Update Metadata: 2021-04-07 | Issue Number: 15 | Registration Date: 2019-08-08