The common reference points of this network were the Hamburg-based longitudinal studies LAU (Aspekte der Lernausgangslage und Lernentwicklung, Aspects of Learning Background and Learning Development) and KESS (Kompetenzen und Einstellungen von Schülerinnen und Schülern, Competencies and Attitudes of Students), which have been conducted by the Free and Hanseatic city of Hamburg since 1995. Both studies followed a complete cohort of students from grade 5 until the general qualification for university entrance (Abitur) or the end of their apprenticeship. LAU and KESS included achievement tests and questionnaires on personal characteristics, schools and instruction, and students’ family Background.
LAU and KESS have been documented in descriptive reports and in a few in-depth analyses of selected issues. As is true of many data sets in the field of empirical educational research, the analytic potential of the LAU and KESS data is far from exhausted. Against this backdrop, the scientific consortium MILES was established in the summer of 2012 under the leadership of Prof. Olaf Köller. In accordance with an agreement between Hamburg’s Ministry of Schools and Vocational Training (Behörde für Schule und Berufsbildung, BSB) and the Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN), the LAU and KESS data have been made available to the MILES consortium for the purpose of conducting more detailed secondary analyses. Beginning in the winter of 2012/13, the data sets were gradually transferred to IPN. Since then, the documentation of the studies has been revised and completed. The rescaling of achievement data were completed with the goal of creating a scaling model that is consistent across all measurement points and the two studies. The RemoteMILES system was created as a way of making it possible to store the data at a central location and facilitating cooperation among the consortium members as they analyze the data. At the same time, members of the consortium have been identifying and discussing issues that the LAU and KESS data may be particularly helpful in analyzing. Focus areas included family-related interventions (tutoring, year abroad), school effectiveness and certain aspects of instruction (particularly bilingual instruction), as well as social disparities in academic success over the course of the school years. Either implicitly or explicitly, the research projects also addressed methodological challenges related to the elaborate study design. The members of the MILES consortium agreed on seven research projects to be conducted using the LAU and KESS data.