Comprehensive data on the education system in Israel is vital for any attempt to understand and then improve its performance. When the Trump Foundation began its work in Israel we looked for in-depth and accurate statistics to inform the design of our strategy. In discussion with the Education Ministry, we learned however that such data is collected on a limited basis. Consequently, in many cases we were compelled to conduct special surveys and focus groups which provided only a partial perspective, which is qualitative in nature.One of few examples that contradict this lack of data is the OECD’sProgramme for International Student Assessment (PISA). PISA is a calibrated and comparative test which is conducted every three years among 15 year old students in 66 education systems around the world. The test includes performance and skills exams in reading, science and mathematics, and is supplemented with questions which add information about the students’ background, home environment, classroom and school experience, learning habits, and more.
The OECD collects the data and keeps it in an open database which is available to the research community. The database offers high-level data as well as different segmentation and analysis options, which could potentially help in shaping education policies. However, the data is little used by Israeli scholars, journalists, decision-makers and practitioners in education. The fact that the data is presented in English with almost no graphics or visual demonstrations is one explanation for its limited use.
In order to help overcome this issue, we approached the Center for Internet Research at the University of Haifa and asked them to lead the development of a Hebrew version of the database which will also offer compelling visualizations. It will contain raw data as well as dynamic graphs, which allow users to analyze the data as they wish, and to compare relationships between various factors. To promote use of this data, the center will present the database at conferences; will organize a special seminar open to the public; and modestly reward academic papers which will aim to rely on the database.
Open Pisa Project Website
* The text above shows the grant as approved by the Foundation’s Board of Directors / Grant 114