The foundation’s strategy is focused on expanding the circle of excellence of mathematics and the sciences in high schools. Therefore, most of our efforts are dedicated to nurturing clinical teaching in the 5-unit track in the upper secondary school level (grades 10-12). However, in recent years, we have turned our attention to also smooth the transition from middle to high school in order to increase the pipeline of potential five-unit students. We have mostly touched on the last year of middle school (9th grade), and on pilot testing the creation of teacher communities for the lower 7th and 8th grades.
This experience leads us to acknowledge that an approach identical to the one in high schools will not suffice, and we need to develop a specific philanthropic strategy for our work in middle schools. To do so, we must now better understand the special circumstances of middle schools in Israel.
We are preparing ourselves to present a draft strategy for middle schools in the upcoming meeting of the foundation’s Advisory Council in November 2018. For this purpose, we are proposing a series of studies and collection of relevant data that will feed our thinking and the discussions in November. The suggested studies include:
- The structure and organization of the middle school system and curriculum in Israel, and the profiles of teachers (education, experience) and students (ability groups, achievements), as well as an international comparative study of structure and organization in other countries.
- Motivation for teaching and learning at advanced levels of mathematics and science, including surveys and focus groups of teachers, parents and students, as well as an international comparative study, based on PISA data on student’s calibrated motivation.
- The viewpoint of teachers, including a consultation group of 25 science teachers on issues relating to curriculum, standards, measures and motivation. This group will be similar to the group of mathematics teachers that we recently convened (grant 278).
For each study, we will commission a researcher or a research institute to prepare a report according to specific questions. Our intention is that results, even on an interim basis, will be circulated between the members of the Advisory Council, prior to the November meeting.
* The text presented above shows the grant as approved by the Foundation Board / Grant 306