The Accessibility Program was designed to improve the patterns of social mobility among young people in the south by increasing their chances of admission to the most sought-after academic departments. It is a three-year program for high achievers in tenth through twelfth grades at schools in southern Israel. Accessibility has been implemented since 2001/2002, when it was initiated by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and is a joint project of the Ministry of Education (Southern District), the Sacta-Rashi Foundation, Atidim, the Adenauer Foundation, and the Centennial Fund of Bank Leumi. To achieve its goal, the program implements activities in three parallel areas:
The school component provides scholastic assistance to improve the students’ matriculation results
The university component offers academic courses at Ben-Gurion University to introduce the participants to academic studies and strengthen their resolve to pursue higher education
The empowerment component aims to develop self-efficacy and social awareness, chiefly through personal and social development workshops.
The evaluation process was conducted in two stages:
The goal of the first stage (conducted in 2005/6) was to examine implementation of the program. The findings were presented to the program’s steering committee, which introduced significant improvements. The goal of the second stage of the study (2006/7) was to examine the impact of these changes on the implementation of the program in order to further support and improve the program.
In-depth interviews were conducted with students and parents and the various professionals involved in the program’s operation; surveys were carried out with students, high school principals and the program coordinators at the school. Administrative data were also collected.
The second stage of the evaluation revealed that the improvements in the program enhanced its effectiveness in several of ways: increased participation in all aspects of the program and throughout all three years of high school and greater student satisfaction.
Twelfth graders who participated in the program in 2005/6 achieved high matriculation scores. The vast majority were eligible for matriculation certificates qualifying them for university admission and many of them achieved high scoring certificates. However, the data are not adequate to isolate the impact of the program on these results.
The study was commissioned and funded by the University Program to Promote Accessibility to Higher Education in the Negev.