The Central District, one of eight districts of the Education Ministry, serves 320,000 students of 56 cities and local and regional authorities, and is responsible for 132 high schools which offer upper secondary studies. In 2013, 14,120 of its students participated in the mathematics matriculation, of whom 2,120 (15%) took the advanced five-unit exam and 3,950 (28%) the medium four-unit exam. The district found out that 1,738 (44%) of their four-units students excelled in the final test. This phenomenon leads the district to believe that given the right educational circumstances, some of these students would be able to learn, succeed and excel at five-unit level, and therefore comprise an untapped potential source of excellence at advanced levels.Each year, over the next three years, at least 300 of these students will be offered and encouraged to study in a special 5-unit track, with extra teaching hours and a customized curriculum. These students come from nine cities including Rishon Le’Tzion, Kfar Qesem, Kalansua, Shoham and Rosh ha’Ayin.
Just a few weeks ago, 14 of these new 5-unit classes were opened, in which the curriculum is taught in a manner suited to the capabilities and difficulties of these specific students, with an emphasis on dropout prevention and a monitoring program to help track their progress and adapt teaching methods accordingly. These classes receive an extra two weekly hours of teaching, funded by the local authority. The initiative will run for three years in which a total of 45 new 5-unit classes will be opened.
In order to help the teachers to cope with the unique challenges of teaching these new classes, the district is developing a special curriculum, and has prepared an instructional coaching program for the teachers, which will include lesson observation, techniques of adaptive teaching, and clinical instruction skills to address the unique needs of each student. The coaching will be delivered by five district mathematics instructors, who will be trained for the job by the Branco Weiss Institute. The instructors themselves will receive individual coaching and pedagogical support from the Branco Weiss team. This interaction will also be used in order to expose the instructors to the foundation’s clinical teaching projects and partner with them, including those which provide tools and programs for using diagnostics and video. In addition, the instructors will participate in a group which meets once every two weeks over the course of a year for a master-class on a five-unit mathematics lesson.
* The text above shows the grant as approved by the Foundation’s Board of Directors / Grant 132