Complementary School Change Initiatives: Lessons Learned from Research and Evaluation in the Field


Source: Complementary School Change Initiatives


The third publication in the "Making Jewish Education Work" series of JESNA's Publications and Dissemination Project, this report explores lessons learned from the evaluations of community/congregational school change efforts carried out by JESNA's Berman Center for Research and Evaluation in Jewish Education. By offering a synthesis of lessons learned from across the 10 complementary school initiatives, this report aims to be both a product of, and an advocate for, collaborative change efforts.


The report is based on the lessons learned from across the 10 initiatives studied by the Berman Center. These are:


  • Building Leadership Capacity for Educational Excellence & Congregational Transformation
  • Center for Excellence in Jewish Teaching (CEJT)
  • CHAI Curriculum Initiative
  • Jewish Educator Corps Program ( JEC)
  • La’atid: Synagogues for the Future
  • Leadership Institute for Congregational School Principals
  • Mashkon Pilot Projects
  • NESS: Nurturing Excellence in Synagogue Schools
  • The Moreshet Initiative
  • Project Curriculum Renewal (PCR)


The authors point out that each ‘learning’ discussed in this report is based on empirical support from two or more Berman Center evaluations. These lessons are reported in the context of insights from the field of secular education. They are also supported by findings from the broader field of educational reform and organizational change models originating from the business sector.


The report explores lessons learned in five critical aspects of complementary school change initiatives, including:


• approaching change systemically

• utilizing curricula

• building consensus among key stakeholders and fostering internal and external collaborations

• the role of professional development.

The authors emphasize that as complementary schools are the main source of Jewish education for approximately 70% of Jewish children in North America, complementary school shareholders face the challenge of building and maintaining consistent levels of excellence in their schools and communities.


They conclude that:
"The lessons learned from Berman Center evaluations of 10 complementary school change initiatives complements what has been documented by theorists of change, and create a strong foundation for further development of both tested and alternative models of school change initiatives."

Updated: Nov. 16, 2008