Source: Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education, Brandeis University
The DeLeT program was established in 2002 in response to three decades of expansion in non - orthodox Jewish day schools. This created a demand for teachers prepared to teach in these new schools. In the 12 years since the program’s inception, DeLeT at Brandeis and HUC - JIR have prepared close to 200 teachers who are teaching across the nation in 18 states and more than 46 schools. This report focuses on how DeLeT graduates from both programs perceive their preparedness for day school teaching, as well as how they perceive the DeLeT faculty and the programs’ strengths and weaknesses. It also examines similarities and differences between the two programs and offers possible explanations for the handful of differences we identified. Such an in - depth examination of graduates’ perspectives provides valuable formative feedback to both programs. In addition, we anticipate that this report will be useful to funders and faculty at other Jewish teacher education programs who may be interested in using the evaluation tools and procedures we have developed to learn about their graduates and identify areas for program improvement.
Data and Methods
The report draws on two types of data — responses to surveys filled by DeLeT graduates upon completion of the program and responses to semi - structured interviews with DeLeT faculty leaders. Survey data were collected from DeLeT graduates at Brandeis and HUC programs (Cohorts 6 through 11) across the past six years (2007 - 2013) as part of the DeLeT Longitudinal Study. The survey was administered to all graduates (N=103) with a response rate of 90%. In addition, the report draws on a complementary set of interviews with program faculty at Brandeis and HUC which explore the possible meanings behind the graduates’ responses to particular questions and how the data can be used to improve the program. Specifically, we wanted to learn how DeLeT leaders understand their graduates’ assessment of the program, its faculty, and their own sense of preparedness for teaching.
These findings affirm that the DeLeT program graduates beginning teachers who feel well prepared for their work as day school teachers. The findings also reveal that the DeLeT program embodies key features associated with effective teacher education, including a clear vision of good teaching, an intensive and extensive clinical component, strong alignment between university courses and field experiences, and a focus on subject matter preparation. These commitments and practices make the DeLeT model unique among programs that prepare teachers for Jewish day schools.
In conclusion, we acknowledge the vision of program founders and funders to support evaluation and research of the ongoing life of the DeLeT program and its teachers . By studying the program and tracking its graduates over time, the Longitudinal Survey provides systematic and reliable information about the students, the program and its impact, insuring accountabil ity to those who conduct the program and those who support it.