Missions, Methods, and Assessment in Hebrew Language Education: Case Studies of American Jewish Day Schools


Source: New York University


This research consists of three case studies conducted within American Jewish day schools (JDSs). Addressing some of the issues pointed to by past researchers, this investigation focuses on the following discrete areas of Hebrew language (HL) programs: the stated visions for Hebrew language learning as noted in the mission statements and other documents of the schools and as articulated by teachers and administrators, the methodologies employed by Hebrew and Jewish Studies educators within these institutions, and the assessment practices employed by these schools and educators to determine whether the expressed goals of these programs are being met. By exploring the missions, methods, and assessment processes within these Hebrew language programs, and contrasting these aspects of the schools, we come to a better understanding of the inner workings of these programs and the issues that may be addressed in practice and future research.

The following questions guided this mixed-methods study: (1) Within each JDS, what are the goals, according to the mission statement, teachers and administrators, for receptive and productive oral proficiency and literacy in HL? (2) Within each JDS, what are the instructional methodologies employed by teachers in HL and Jewish Studies? (3) Within each JDS, what formal and informal assessments, including teacher perceptions, are currently used for student placement, ongoing and recursive assessment, and outcome assessment?

Findings indicate that each of these schools has articulated its missions and program goals to incorporate the development of some kind of Hebrew proficiency and Jewish identity among students. However, confusion was identified within each institution regarding planning methodological approaches and employing systematic and meaningful evaluations of student progress, both of which are found to be interwoven with the desired development of Hebrew language, Jewish identity and a Zionist orientation. In order to successfully achieve their goals and missions, clearer articulation, more consistent and research-based methodological choices, along with consistent and meaningful assessments are required.

Updated: Jan. 04, 2017