NEtwork for Large-Scale Studies Including Students with Special Educational Needs


NELSEN is a network of researchers who study the learning outcomes and conditions of students with special educational needs.

Target Group

The NELSEN-Network is open for all interested members.


The goal of the network is to improve the data basis about the situation of students with special educational needs in large-scale assessments. Given the heterogeneity of students with special educational needs and the diversity of the assistance measures for this group, the research in this area faces a number of challenges. These are, for example, that the diagnosis of and statistical identification of special educational needs varies between the German states which complicates identifying students with special educational needs in a comparable way. One aim of the NELSEN network is therefore to develop consistent definitions for special educational needs and different types of support across studies.

Another goal of the NELSEN network is to exchange ideas about methodological and substantial challenges and approaches in this area of research such as appropriate test instruments and background questionnaires for teachers, school principals and parents, promising sampling strategies and test modalities for testing students with special educational needs.


  • The NELSEN network meets once or twice a year.
  • The Coordinating Office between the IQB and the ZIB coordinates the network and makes available a shared internet portal that supports the information exchange and documents results.
  • The members also participate in joint symposia at the annual conference of the Association for Empirical Educational Research (GEBF).
  • In 2015 a special volume was published, another publication was published in 2020.

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