Report: New Horizon Education Reform Pushes Math Scores Up

A program that has introduced classes for small groups of elementary school students has led to improved math scores for students in the secular Jewish school system, according to a report commissioned by the Education Ministry.

The report also found that an overwhelming majority of educators participating in the program, called New Horizon, are in favor of continuing with it despite the increased workload, according to a report commissioned by the Education Ministry.

Though the report found no differences in classroom performance between schools that adopted New Horizon and those that did not, Jewish schools did report a 10-point improvement in math scores on the Education Ministry's standardized test. In the other three subjects covered by the exam - English, language studies, and science and technology - there was no significant difference in test scores.

According to the findings, 99 percent of supervisors and principals, 88 percent of teachers and 85 percent of parents who knew of the program said they would like to see it continued. In addition, 96 percent of supervisors, 93 percent of principals and 71 percent of teachers polled said New Horizon should be credited with an improvement in the functioning of schools.

The report also suggests that "individual hours," during which teachers work with small groups of students, "are viewed as the most positive aspect of the reform."

The individual hours have been replacing classes that had previously been offered, but Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar recently ordered schools to teach small groups in addition to the regular curriculum.

New Horizon, which former education minister Yuli Tamir introduced in an effort to reform the school system, has been adopted by 72 percent of all state-run elementary schools. As part of the program, which was enacted three years ago, the teachers are required to teach more in exchange for a 26-percent bump in salaries.

Despite the widespread satisfaction with the reform, teachers indicated that they feel the effects of a heavier workload. According to the survey, 64 percent of teachers participating in New Horizon say they feel overworked, while 53 percent of teachers who did not take part in the reform said the same.

In addition, 58 percent of the teachers putting in more classroom hours said they have less time to take continuing education courses, compared with 25 percent of other teachers.

The report, whose findings were submitted to senior Education Ministry officials yesterday, reflects data gathered from 729 elementary schools during the previous school year. This year, an additional 450 schools signed onto the program.