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School Integration and School Transition

Background and aims

Transition from primary level to secondary level education is of seminal importance to youths with regard to their future educational and professional careers: On the one hand side, the future educational career and the corresponding social promotion prospects of youths are already mapped out with institutional allocation, which is based on various performance characteristics at lower-secondary education level. On the other hand side, transition takes place in the so-called 'storm and stress' phase of early adolescence, when peers and out-of-school activities become increasingly important.

From the viewpoint of special needs education, the question arises as to how successfully learners with special educational needs can manage the transition from primary level to secondary level education. Furthermore, the relevance of this question is to be approached primarily with a view to educational policy objectives regarding the increasing integration of learners with special educational needs into regular schools. While the effects of educational integration at the primary education level have received extensive empirical verification, findings concerning this matter at the lower-secondary education level are widely lacking.

The above forms the basis for the general objective of this research project, the central aim of which is to discover how well learners with low school-related performance levels or behavioural disorders integrated into regular classes at primary school level are now integrated at the lower-secondary education level.


Comparative analyses between three groups of youths will be employed in order to clarify the main question posed by the study. These groups will be a) learners exhibiting low academic performance levels or behavioural problems integrated into regular classes as the primary school level, b) learners in small or special school classes and c) learners with no particular special needs in regular classes. For this purpose, the following sub-questions shall be dealt with:

  • What does the education career of the youths look like after transition into lower-secondary education?
  • How do school-related achievements and the behaviour of the youths develop after transition into lower-secondary education?
  • Can differences in the youth's school-related, affective-cognitive self-image be detected?
  • How do the youths experience actual day-to-day teaching when compared to leisure time?


Same as up to now (with 120 instead of 150 young people).


Here some selected findings among the many results:

  • After the transition to the secondary level, 90% of the students who had special education needs and were integrated in regular school classes at the end of primary Grade 6 continued to attend regular school classes in the following school years. Individual educational trajectories showed in addition that students with special needs in the area of behaviour were more frequently found in more demanding secondary performance-based groupings than students with special needs in the area of learning.   
  • Integrated students with special needs achieved greater learning improvements if they attended school types with more demanding requirements, and they expressed higher occupational aspirations. In addition, these more demanding secondary performance-based groupings appeared to reduce the probability that the students continue to show or develop behaviour problems.  
  • The findings were also as expected regarding academic self-concept: Attending more demanding secondary performance-based groupings generally had a negative effect on academic self-concept (and vice versa).
  • Young people generally experienced everyday school instruction as somewhat less positive than their free time. Both at school and in their free time, being together with peers had a positive effect on the quality of the students’ experience. Finally, at the end of secondary school, young people who were integrated in regular school classes at the primary level had just as many contacts with peers as their schoolmates without special needs.



Project Management


Forschung und Entwicklung
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