The Ofek Hadash (“New Horizon”) reforms in Israeli elementary schools and some junior-high schools have failed in bringing more teachers and keeping them from leaving the educational system, despite higher salaries. The first study of its kind on the program, conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics, examined whether the higher salaries increased the supply of new students studying to be teachers and whether the quality of those students was higher, as well as whether attrition rates for teachers had declined.
The results of the study were presented at a conference of the Israeli Economic Association. They show the reforms have failed in reaching a number of their main goals: They have not led more education students to specialize in teaching a specific subject. There has been no increase in the number of students choosing teaching as a profession, and the number of both new and experienced teachers from leaving the education system has actually increased.
The reforms only started in 2008 and therefore the results mostly relate to the trends of the first three years of Ofek Hadash. Teachers saw their work weeks extended to a full 36 hour week as part of the reforms, including 26 hours of traditional classroom teaching, five hours for activities such as meetings, including meetings with students and parents, making lesson plans and correcting homework; and an additional five hours of individual or small-group instruction (up to five students at a time).
The four main goals of the program, according to the Education Ministry, were to improve the status of teachers and raise their salaries; provide equal opportunities for all students and raise their achievement levels; improve the atmosphere in the schools; and strengthen and expand the powers and authority of school principals.
The Education Ministry said the CBS presentation was not shown to the ministry but it would be happy to comment after studying the information. The Israel Teachers Union said it was unable to comment because it had not received the study but would issue a response within a few days, after studying the matter.
Read the story in Haaretz.