Education Ministry: Despite Improvements, Most Teachers Deem Remote Learning Inadequate

Or Kashti
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Students attending class remotely in Tel Aviv, last year.
Students attending class remotely in Tel Aviv, last year.Credit: Eyal Toueg
Or Kashti

Fewer than half of teachers say schools met their educational objectives during the period last year when all instruction was online.

Of 1,500 respondents to an Education Ministry survey, only 31 percent said meaningful learning took place in this period, and only 38 percent said the distance learning adequately followed the curriculum. Only 35 percent said schools responded adequately to students’ social needs (especially in high schools); just under half said they believed their students’ emotional needs were met.

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“Most of the teachers reported that in all parameters relating to students ... goals were met only moderately,” the report states. “Teachers … feel they received the support needed but still struggled to meet the goals … apparently due to the limitations of distance learning.”

The report did point to improvement in certain areas compared to a previous poll.

With COVID-19 infections climbing, these findings may again be relevant.

Bedouin students protest against education inequality in front of the Be'er Sheva court, in 2019.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

The survey was conducted by the Ministry’s National Authority for Measurement and Evaluation in Education in February-March. The respondents constituted a representative sample of teachers in public schools grades 1-12. It did not include teachers in the ultra-Orthodox school network.

A similar poll was conducted in summer 2020.

Most teachers said they had the technology and stable internet connection for remote learning, but about 40 percent reported that they lacked the necessary quiet or privacy. “If optimal conditions for distance learning are to be maintained, the teacher should be at home in order to increase the chance of quality learning,” the report states.

Just over half of respondents said they administered online exams in which students were required to turn on their web cameras, which is against ministry recommendations. Another gap was revealed when teachers were asked how they thought distance learning should be conducted: Most teachers said they preferred small groups, but in fact found themselves teaching the whole class at once. The teachers said the main impediment to effective remote teaching is their heavy workload, as well as the students’ workload, and the lack of some students’ ability to persist in online learning.

In a parallel survey of about 1,500 parents, 97 percent reported that their children did learn online, and about 80 percent said their children could learn online and had the conditions to do so. However, the report noted in this context that the responses “concealed quite considerable gaps between language groups and age groups.” This was especially true for Bedouin students, who according to the report are apparently “completely cut off from the school framework: a lack of online learning and apparently a loss of home that some learning can take place.”

About half of all parents said that in the event schools close again, they want the same model for distance learning as before. Half said they preferred a different model, or the cancellation of all instruction. There was a significant difference between the responses of parents whose children were in schools in which Hebrew is the language of instruction and those studying in Arab schools. While 19 percent of the former did not want distance learning to continue, 43 percent of the latter said they wanted remote learning to continue as before.

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