Be’er Sheva, the southern city known as the “capital of the Negev”, is one of the largest cities in the country, with 200,000 residents. It has 14,500 students enrolled in 17 secondary schools (three of which do not prepare their students for matriculation examinations). In 2015, 9.2% of students took the 5-unit mathematics matriculation, meaning 200 out of 2,161 twelfth grade graduates. This rate is lower than the national average, yet reflects a modest rise in the last three years, following years of decline.This growth was an outcome of a series of government-initiated programs, which included the establishment of “scientific-technological reserve” classes and provision of additional teaching hours from the national program, “Mathematics First”. The municipality has also added supplementary hours and sent teachers to enroll in special courses. Because of these activities, the city expects to see a rising graduation trend since there are now 267 students (12.5%) in 12th grade and 349 (16%) in 11th grade taking the five-unit track.
Although the municipality is satisfied with the improving trend, it fears its current teaching infrastructure will not be able to support a larger number of students and cater to the growing demand over time. At present, there are 170 mathematics teachers in secondary schools, 26 of whom teach 5 units. Many of them are approaching retirement age and tend to work in isolation and not to cooperate with one another.
Therefore, the municipality has decided to set an ambitious goal to increase the percentage of 5-Unit mathematics students to 20% – 450 students – by 2019, and to increase during these years the number of 5-unit teachers by ten every year. With this goal in mind, in addition to adding teaching hours, the municipality is planning to carry out the following actions with teachers:
- Establish a citywide community of five-unit teachers to support their professional development and train them to serve as instructional coaches who will mentor new teachers. The community will meet weekly for 3 hours, and will be mentored by an academic institution.
- Mentoring of the new 5-unit teachers by experienced teachers for two hours per week. They will also study together in a professional network for 10 sessions per year.
- Form school-based communities in 7 junior high schools to receive guidance and mentoring by a professional education organization.
In addition, 8-10 school principals will receive individual mentoring from an experienced principal over 5 annual sessions, in which the principals will construct the school work plan to increase the number of 5-unit graduates.
* The text above shows the grant as approved by the Foundation’s Board of Directors / Grant 208