The Jerusalem District of the Ministry of Education comprises 55 high schools in various cities, including Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, Ma’aleh Adumim, Modi’in and the West Bank settlements. In 2013 only 553 out of the 3,904 students in the District who sat for mathematics matriculation exams took the five-unit exam. According to reports from the district, the trend is downward with very significant variations between cities and schools.In an attempt to reverse this trend, the District, in collaboration with the Israel Center for Excellence through Education, is proposing a special program. The program will convene 60 five-unit mathematics teachers over three years from various cities in the District to work together to improve their teaching skills and reduce student drop-out rates.
Teachers in the program will meet as a group 7-10 times a year in order to study different teaching methods and tools for improving student-focused teaching, such, as the use of diagnostics in the classroom, and how to analyze filmed lessons. These components of quality teaching will be introduced in collaboration with other programs funded by the foundation.
In addition, the teachers will meet in pairs to observe one another and provide analysis and feedback, focusing on subjects learned in the group meetings. Filmed examples will be brought to group meetings, and will be uploaded to a purpose-built website on a weekly basis. Teachers whose abilities stand out over the first year of the program will be trained and cultivated as instructional coaches, and will go on to mentor the pairs of teachers that will join the program in the second year.
In discussions with the leaders of the project, it was stressed that the Jerusalem District should set ambitious goals for the project in terms of drop out and student success rates, and devote some of its resources to achieving these goals, including the participation of teachers in the program with two additional hours per week. In addition, the District should ensure that the school principals allow their teachers to participate, and take responsibility for authorizing to film the teachers.
The Israeli Center for Excellence through Education, which will serve as the professional leader of the program, is an educational non-profit organization specializing in developing learning materials and professional development for mathematics and science teachers. Heading the project will be Mr. Gali Shimoni, a highly regarded mathematics teacher who heads the organization’s mathematics department.
* The text above shows the grant as approved by the Foundation’s Board of Directors / Grant 144