Pupils in Israel are less violent than in the past, have positive relationships with their teachers and are increasingly making use of technology in the classroom, according to a report released by the Education Ministry on Tuesday.
The National Authority for Measurement and Evaluation in Education (RAMA) compiled the report based on information gathered from a “school climate” survey for the 2013/14 academic year.
The report is based on survey findings from 852 elementary school, 474 middle schools and 446 high schools. Questionnaires were administered between January 2014 and March 2014 to 226,477 students in fifth grade through ninth grade, 82,983 students in 10th grade and 11th grade, and 9,635 10th grade and 11th grade teachers. Telephone interviews with 19,794 educators were also conducted.
The report drew upon data for comparison from school-climate surveys from previous years, beginning with the 2007/08 academic year.
According to the survey results, one out of every 10 students was involved in a violent incident in the month prior to participating the survey, though less incidents of violence were reported the older the students were.
Eleven percent of elementary-school pupils reported being involved in a violent incident, the report found, compared to 9% of middle-school pupils and 7% of high-school students, a decrease from 16% and 11% among elementary- school pupils and middle-school pupils, respectively, since 2007/08.
However, despite the positive data revealed in Hebrew-speaking schools, Arabic-speaking high schools reported an increase in violent incidents and disobedience, as well as a decline in students’ sense of personal security and safety.
According to the report, 11% of Arabic- speaking high-school students reported being involved in a violent incident, compared to 6% in 2009/10. Some 18% of Arabic-speaking high-school students reported being deliberately cursed at by another student, compared to 8% in 2009/10. Fourteen percent of elementary- school pupils, 13% of middle-school pupils and 11% of high-school students reported being involved in violent incidents in the month prior to taking the survey.
In addition, 60% of Arabic-speaking high-school students admitted to cutting school for at least two days during the month ahead of the survey, an increase from 45% in 2009/10.
Some 20% of elementary-school pupils and 24% of middle-school pupils reported “violent gangs” comprised of students at their schools, down from 27% and 32%, respectively, in 2007/08.
Among Arabic-speaking schools, 45% of elementary-school pupils and 44% of middle-school pupils reported of such gangs, though these figures also indicated a decrease, from 53% in both age groups since 2007/08.
With regards to racism, 10% of elementary- school pupils, 14% of middle-school pupils and 12% of high-school students reported being mocked because of the color of their skin, their origin, or religion in the month prior to taking the survey, down from 15%, 16%, and 13%, respectively, since 2010/11.
Despite this, the findings revealed that pupils were relatively happy with school and with their teachers. The survey indicated that they reported an increased sense of caring and close relationships with their teachers.
In 2013/14, 70% of elementary-school pupils, 49% of middle-school pupils, and 43% of high-school students reported they felt a close relationship with their teachers, an increase from 63%, 43% and 37%, respectively, in 2009/10.
The report registered an increase of middle-school teachers who met with their students individually and in small groups for educational reinforcement.
The findings indicated that in 2013/14, 75% of middle-school teachers reported they had met with their students for reinforcement in the week prior to the survey, compared to 52% of teachers who reported doing so in 2008/09.
The findings also indicated that teachers are mostly happy with their chosen profession. As such, 74% of elementary- school teachers, 71% of middle- school teachers and 72% of high school teachers responded that they were satisfied.
The report found a significant increase in the use of technology among elementary- school pupils and middle-school pupils for learning purposes. In 2013/14, 49% of elementary-school pupils and 35% of middle-school pupils reported using the Internet for learning purposes, compared to 28% and 21%, respectively, in 2007/08.
The surveys were compiled by RAMA as part of a comprehensive report for the national Meitzav examinations. In August 2013, Education Minister Shai Piron announced the cancellation of the external Meitzav achievement exams for the 2013/14 year, though schools continued to administer the examinations internally. Despite this, the school-climate survey was administered as usual.
The exam, used to assess and compare the performances of schools across the country, has to date tested language, math and science skills.
Earlier this year, Piron announced that beginning in the 2014/15 school year the Meitzav exams would be reinstated every three years.
According to his plan, fifth graders will be tested in three disciplines – mother- tongue language (either Hebrew or Arabic), mathematics and English.
Eighth graders will be tested in four disciplines – mother-tongue language, mathematics, English and science.
The Meitzav exam for the second grade will be held internally.
The decision was made following a yearlong break from the exam due to complaints from teachers and educators that schools felt they were being measured primarily through exams and trials that affected teaching and learning methods.