Jerusalem publishes schools’ social data online

City Council member Rachel Azaria: Allowing everyone to view information website previously available only to education professionals may harm public schools.

Back to school 370 (photo credit: Flash 90)
Back to school 370
(photo credit: Flash 90)
The Jerusalem municipality launched on Sunday an initiative allowing the public to review social data about the city’s schools online, as part of Education Week taking place in the city.
The site, entitled the “Tree of values,” is a tool which was previously used only by education professionals to assess the situations of different institutions.
The “tree,” available for consultation on the municipality’s website, reviews over 30 social indicators such as the percentage of army enrollment in each school, moral education or parents’ and students’ opinions about the atmosphere at the school.
Other figures include the institution’s community involvement, including the number of volunteers at the school or how many of its students are members of youth movements.
All indicators on the website are categorized according to three factors: the school’s average in the specific field, the average of other comparable schools and the improvement the institution has displayed in the field.
These factors are then color-coded into green, yellow or red. Green indicates that in the particular area examined, the school is in good conditions; yellow means that the school is in moderate condition; and red suggests that much improvement is needed at the school.
The Jerusalem Municipality, which is the first to implement the “tree of values” in Israel, said the tool was made openly available to the public in order to help parents decide in which school to register their children.
“The educational discourse tends to consider only grades and forget elements such as moral education, community involvement, army enrollment, students’ participation in youth movements, attitudes of parents and students as well as the learning atmosphere at the school,” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement on Sunday.
“This is a management tool that creates a common language for all principals and also allows the municipality to locate excellence as well as points of failure that should be improved in every school. Now, it’s published in full transparency,” he added.
Barkat expressed confidence in the initiative and said he will be happy to help the municipalities implement the model.
City Council member Rachel Azaria, however, told The Jerusalem Post she is not pleased with the decision to make the “Tree of values” public, which she said, harms public schools.
“Instead of working to improve the quality of education and address the unique challenges of each school, it forces schools to compete for compliance with arbitrary factors determined by the municipality which are not necessarily relevant to the quality of the school,” Azaria explained.
“The municipality is actually forcing schools to fight for survival according to the rules of the free market, which may fit the business world but is not really suitable for the education system, which aims to provide equal opportunities for every student in the city,” she continued.
Azaria added that while such assessment tools are important for the internal use of the municipality and education professionals, making them public perpetuates the gaps that already exist in the Jerusalem education system.