Nazareth is the largest Arab city in the Northern District of Israel, with a population of approximately 80,000 people, of which 69% are Muslim and 31% Christian. The city is ranked on the lower end of the socio-economic register (4 out of 10). The secondary education system in the city has approximately 9,500 students attending 17 schools. Of these, the municipality operates 5 schools, charters operate 3 schools, and 9 are private schools operated by churches and monasteries.
In 2014, eligibility for matriculation in the city stood at 58.1 %, with a substantial gap between public and private schools. In order to address this, the municipality is operating several programs in collaboration with the Education Ministry and the ORT education network. In mathematics, 204 students sat the 5-unit exam in 2014, comprising 12.8 % of the city’s 12th graders. The city reports an as yet untapped potential for studying the 5-unit track as 17% of the graduates matriculated in 4–unit mathematics, of which 51% graduated with advanced grades.
After analyzing their data, Nazareth has identified several challenges that need to be addressed in order to increase the number of students learning 5-units. There are currently 39 mathematics teachers in the city’s high schools, only 12 of which, however, teach 5-units. The municipality believes that traditional teaching methods is one of the factors causing students to drop down to lower levels; as well as a lack of awareness of the importance of mathematics studies in general and the drive for excellence, specifically.
In light of this, the city is proposing a program to train its veteran 5-unit teachers in innovative and clinical teaching methods, as well as to prepare a new cadre of 5-unit teachers from among the best of the 4-unit teachers. The municipality intends to allocate a special building in which activities related to mathematics education will take place, including the teacher training, workshops for principals and support for students. It will house:
- A training course for 10 leading mathematics teachers, focusing on innovative and clinical teaching methods;
- A two-year training and coaching seminar for 15-20 teachers of 4-unit levels with the potential for teaching 5 units;
- Supplementary after-school reinforcement classes for struggling students who study the 5 units track.
- A municipal steering committee whose goal is to support the program and monitor progress, and a forum of school principals who will jointly act to achieve the goals of the program.
Their objective is to achieve an increase in 5-unit mathematics graduates from 12.8% to 27% by the year 2020. This seems over-ambitious to the foundation, based on the data in hand, and we recommend a more moderate goal of 20%. This effort will involve the opening of 15 new 5-unit mathematics classes, which will be taught by the new teachers. Simultaneously, the municipality will work with both parents and students to change perceptions regarding 5-unit mathematics and nurture their appreciation and demand for the excellence tracks in high school.
* The text above shows the grant as approved by the Foundation’s Board of Directors / Grant 222