School children in class.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The National Authority for Measurement and Evaluation in Education (RAMA) published a report on Sunday on parents’ attitudes toward the education system. The survey of 2,252 parents of students in first through 12th grade was conducted between April and August 2014.
This is the first survey of its kind and is scheduled to be repeated every two years. The Education Ministry will use the results of this survey to assist in its decision-making processes in the future.
Unsurprisingly, the report shows that many parents would prefer fewer vacation days throughout the school year, citing reasons such as the loss of valuable learning time, the difficulty of working parents to keep their children occupied, and the financial drain on the family among others.
Approximately 60 percent of parents of elementary school students and approximately half of parents of middle school and high school students, would like to see a school year with fewer vacation days. A mere 5% of parents noted they would like more vacation days.
Parents were also asked if there was a need for school-based activities during long vacations, such as summer holidays and Passover break.
Among the parents of children in Hebrew-language schools, some 80% of elementary school parents, 70% of middle school parents, and 60% of high school parents said there was a need. Among the parents of children in Arabic-language schools, approximately 80% of parents of children of all ages determined the need existed.
Of the parents who responded positively about the need for school-based programs during vacation days, most of them noted they were interested in a mix of academic and recreational and enrichment activities.
The parents surveyed were also presented with a list of nine values: self-fulfillment, tolerance and respect, achievements, inter-personal and social skills, healthy lifestyle, cultural tradition and legacy, contribution to society, environmental concerns, and familiarity with and respect toward different groups in Israeli society. Parents were asked to rank each value on two scales – how important they said it was to teach the value and how well they said it was currently being taught in the school system.
There was general consensus among the parents that all nine of the values were important to teach in schools but there was a difference of opinion regarding how well they said they were currently being promoted.
Only around 40% of parents reported that their children’s schools emphasized self-fulfillment and a healthy lifestyle, despite the fact that between 84 - 92% of parents said these values were of high importance.
A high percentage of parents of children of all ages (60 - 70% of respondents) noted that their children’s schools emphasized the values of tolerance and respect and contribution to society.
The report also set out to assess how parents said schools were balancing academic achievements and instilling values, and to determine if there was excessive pressure on students to excel in their learning.
The results show that the majority of parents (approximately 60%) said that the schools emphasize both academic achievements and value learning equally. Approximately the same number of parents said that this was how the school should balance the two. Between 63% and 67% of parents said that schools put an appropriate amount of pressure on students with regard to academic achievements.
Parents of students in Arabic-speaking schools put more emphasis on academic achievements than parents of students in Hebrew-speaking schools.
The report also shows that parents tend to be happy with the schools their children attend and said their children were in good hands.
Most respondents, approximately 80%, identified that there were positive relationships between teachers and students at school, and while they said that teachers are aware of their students’ academic situation and treat their students with respect and care, only some 65% of parents reported that teachers were aware of their students’ activities outside of school.
Overall, parents said that communication between themselves and schools was satisfactory, only some 45% of elementary school parents and an even lower approximately 36% of middle school and high school parents said they were partners to the shaping and promotion of the school’s goals.
Furthermore, while approximately 78% of elementary school parents reported that the school afforded them opportunities to participate in school activities, only some 56% and 49% of middle school and high school parents, respectively, reported the same way.
Overall, Arabic-language schools had higher levels of satisfaction in all the communications criteria over Hebrew-language schools.
The full report is available online at the Education Ministry’s website.