OECD Survey: Half of Israeli Schools Lack Good Teachers

About half of principals report shortage of computers and library materials.

Yarden Skop
Yarden Skop
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A student at a Muslim school in Israel takes a computer lesson.
A student at a Muslim school in Israel takes a computer lesson.Credit: Dan Keinan
Yarden Skop
Yarden Skop

At least half of the principals in Israel say their school is hurt by a lack good teachers, according to a recent survey by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Similar percentages of principals said the same of teaching materials and computers.

The surveyors polled seventh-to-ninth-grade teachers and principals between March and May 2013 about their views of the teaching profession, their work environment, their teaching techniques and the environment at their school.

The results show that 52-to-53 percent of principals in Israel (compared to an international average of 39 percent among the developed countries included in the survey) report that a shortage of certified, high-quality teachers is damaging their school. About 52 percent (compared to 48 percent internationally) report a shortage of teachers who have the skill to teach special-needs pupils.

Fifty-nine percent of principals in Israel report a shortage of computers for teaching, 50 percent report limited Internet access, 54 percent report a shortage of instructional software and 44 percent report a shortage of library materials. The principals say that all these things limit the ability to provide high-quality instruction. On average, about 30 percent of principals in other countries reported each of these deficits. Also, 65 percent of Arabic-speaking schools in Israel reported a shortage of instructional software, and 61 percent reported a shortage of library materials for study.

According to the survey, the average age of seventh-to-ninth-grade teachers in Israel is 42 (compared to 43 internationally). Teachers in Hebrew-speaking schools are older on average than their counterparts in Arabic-speaking schools (44 versus 37).

The average age of all seventh-to-ninth-grade principals in Israel is 49 (compared to 51 internationally). Principals in Hebrew-speaking schools were slightly older than their counterparts in Arabic-speaking schools (49 versus 47).

Seventy-six percent of the seventh-to-ninth-grade teachers in Israel are women (compared to 68 percent internationally). The percentage of women teachers in the Hebrew-speaking schools is 80 percent, while in the Arabic-speaking schools, it is 66 percent.

Even though so many of the teachers are women, almost half of the principals are men. Of the principals of Israeli schools that teach seventh, eighth or ninth grade, 53 percent are women (compared to 49 percent internationally). There is a noticeable gap between the percentage of women principals in Hebrew-speaking and Arabic-speaking schools: 63 percent of the Hebrew-speaking schools have a woman principal, but just 27 percent of the Arabic-speaking schools do. In both cases, the percentage of women in management positions is significantly smaller than the percent of women teachers. The gap is even more pronounced in the Arabic-speaking schools.

The survey contains an encouraging statistic: The vast majority of seventh-to-ninth-grade teachers in Israel (97 percent) have a bachelor’s degree or higher (compared to 91 percent internationally). In Israel, 58 percent of the teachers have a bachelor’s degree, 38 percent have a master’s degree and one percent have a doctorate. Among teachers in the Arabic-speaking schools, the percentage of teachers with a master’s degree is about 25 percent, while it is about 42 percent in the Hebrew-speaking schools. Ninety-four percent of the seventh-to-ninth-grade teachers in Israel have completed special teacher-training tracks or programs (compared to 90 percent internationally). This statistic is similar in the Hebrew-speaking and Arabic-speaking schools.

Almost 100 percent of the principals in Israel have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and 77 percent have a master’s degree (81 percent in the Hebrew-speaking schools and 66 percent in the Arabic-speaking schools). Five percent of the principals hold a doctorate (among Hebrew-speakers: 4 percent; among Arabic-speakers: 8 percent). Internationally, 93 percent of the principals hold a master’s degree and 3 percent hold a doctorate. Ninety percent of the principals reported that they had participated in dedicated training programs for the position (compared to 85 percent internationally).

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