The Tanakh Standards and Benchmarks Project - What We Have Learned About Design, Implementation and Impact: 2004-2010

Dec. 28, 2011

Source: AVI CHAI Foundation


The Jewish Theological Seminary's Melton Research Center for Jewish Education launched the Jewish Day School Standards and Benchmarks Pilot Project on June 30, 2003. The Project was designed to enable Community, Conservative and Reform day schools to enhance the teaching and study of Tanakh. A growing number of these schools are now using standards and benchmarks to improve the teaching and learning of Tanakh. This longitudinal report summarizes what Education Matters® has learned from studying the Project from its inception through the end of the 2009-2010 school year.


From the Executive Summary:

The hypothesis undergirding the Project was that by adopting a standards-based approach schools would have an effective tool by which to a) develop a coherent vision for teaching Tanakh, and b) build a meaningful Tanakh curriculum with relevant professional development for teachers. Education Matters'® research confirms the hypothesis. But it also reveals the complexity of designing and putting in place the processes and developing the knowledge base with which schools can achieve these goals. The work, we learned, is neither quick nor easy. But, the Project and the schools have succeeded and this is good news. Furthermore, by showing what it takes to succeed, the Project provides the field of Jewish education with in-depth knowledge about what such transformative improvement requires and the steps that could be taken to achieve similar success in other areas of Jewish Studies in the nation’s day schools.


In this report we unpack what lies behind these encouraging findings in order to understand the Project’s pedagogical orientation, components and strategies for supporting high quality implementation. We begin with a discussion of the standards-based orientation of the Project. Then we review the Project’s components, the range of professional development supports provided at JTS and at the schools that were designed to enhance the capacity of the schools to implement the standards and benchmarks approach to teaching and learning.


We present the evaluation design that led to our conclusions including a discussion of the indicators of implementation fidelity. And, of course, we present the data from the schools that support our conclusions about the Project’s impact.


Finally we consider what the Project as well as AVI CHAI can learn from the design, implementation, and impact of this Project.


The full report may be viewed at the AVI Chai website.

Updated: Mar. 06, 2012