Mapping of Methods to Advance Low-Achieving Students in an Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Network of Schools

Advancement of low-achieving students and their adjustment to school are among the most important objectives of the education system in Israel. The study presented in this report examined strategies to advance low-achievers in elementary schools in the Ma’ayan Ha’Hinuch Ha’Torani (MHT) ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) education network. It was conducted in conjunction with a similar study of schools in other national school systems.

The study is not only the first of its kind to be conducted in MHT schools, but is also the first broad study of the ultra-Orthodox educational sector altogether. Although the MHT schools cater to only a particular segment of the larger ultra-Orthodox population, the study provides an opportunity for the first time to gain an in-depth view of the way ultra-Orthodox schools contend with the difficulties of their students and their needs.

The findings are based on a survey of all the principals and a sample of the homeroom teachers in the network. The report also presents the respondents’ assessments of the extent to which the assistance provided meets the students’ needs and conveys the difficulties and challenges in implementing these practices and the still-unmet needs as perceived by the respondents.

Among the main findings:

  • MHT schools already implement some of the key strategies that are used for the advancement of low-achieving students in the other school systems. In addition, they have some unique strategies of their own, for example, a Fathers and Sons project and the use of non-professional staff to provide emotional support.
  • At the same time, the MHT schools also differ significantly from State schools in terms of their lower percentage of staff members with an academic (or corresponding) education, the lower accessibility to therapy professionals at the MHT schools, and the lower extent to which the MHT schools have contact with therapeutic services in the community. These gaps between State and MHT schools are more widespread in the schools for boys than in those for girls.
  • In general, the MHT schools were found to be very open to introducing new approaches to assist students with difficulties and expressed interest in expanding their knowledge about effective practices.

The study findings are being disseminated extensively and discussed in forums with professionals at the Ministry of Education, the Ma’ayan Ha’Hinuch Ha’Torani network and the schools themselves.

The study provides the basis for a new level of cooperation on behalf of disadvantaged students. This is particularly important, as the network has a higher concentration of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

The study was commissioned by the Division for Non-Official Recognized Education at the Ministry of Education through the Office of the Chief Scientist and funded with its assistance and that of the Harry Weinrebe Fund for the Advancement of Children.