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Does the program - a scientific and technological reserve contribute to paving and inequality?

About the program - scientific and technological reserve - in the schools, and about its effect on the future of the students

scientific reserve. Illustration:
scientific reserve. Illustration:

The struggle for equality and reducing disparities in the education system is one of the most discussed topics in the educational discourse in Israel. Studies have found that sorting into different study tracks is closely related to the socio-economic background of the students and can affect their educational and academic future and their chances of integrating into industries and jobs with high wages. It was found that this inequality is very significant even today, after decades of educational reforms, and can be seen as a main factor in maintaining class gaps in Israel.

Scientific and Technological Reserve (AMT) is an excellence program in the education system that aims to increase the number of students who complete mathematics, science and physics studies at the level of five study units. It is operated in about 270 schools in Israel on a six-year track (XNUMXth-XNUMXth) and to be admitted to it you have to pass a test in the XNUMXth grade. Dr. Idit Fest and Dr. Yariv Feniger examine in their research what are the implications of AMT as a new type of paving in middle schools.

Dr. Pest is a sociologist of education, a lecturer in the Department of Education at Ben Gurion University and a member of the program for management, policy and education. Her research deals with the implementation of education policies in schools, parents' relations with the school and the extent of their influence on its policies, relations between groups and inequality. The research methods she uses are mainly observations and interviews.

Dr. Yariv Feniger is a sociologist, an associate professor at the School of Education at Ben Gurion University and a fellow in the Education Policy Program at the Taub Center for Social Policy Research in Israel. His research focuses on inequality in education, in middle school and high school, and the mechanisms that shape it: sorting, selection and paving. In recent years, he has also researched how standardized tests in schools, national (such as Mitsav) and international (such as PISA), contribute to the design of education policy; and dealt with immigration-education issues and gender gaps in school.

"The purpose of our current study is to check how the AMT program affects the educational path and educational career of students in middle school, those who were accepted and those who were not, what their path will be in high school and after that. That is, we are trying to understand if the differentiation into the AMT class affects the entire continuation of education. Another goal of the research is to understand how the screening for this program takes place, how the administration and teachers shape it," explains Dr. Pest.

To examine these goals, the researchers will analyze data from the Ministry of Education and the Central Bureau of Statistics concerning a national and broad sample of children (quantitative analysis). In addition, they will interview parents and staff members in three middle schools (qualitative research) in the south of the country and observe selection processes for the program (for example, on exposure evenings), thus trying to decipher the selection method in each of the places. The research was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation.

"We assume that this program has a spiraling effect that contributes to inequality. Thus, admission to it naturally increases the chance of an excellent technological matriculation certificate (which includes five math and computer units), and so does the chance of acquiring a high-income and prestigious profession at the university. In addition, we hypothesize that parents have a central role in screening for the program, and that it varies from locality to locality due to the various socio-economic characteristics. We anticipate that in the various schools the parents will intervene in the process and try to control it, but it is not yet clear in what way, whether through information sessions, conversations with other parents or WhatsApp groups. Today, in the entire education system, parents are very involved in the daily activities of the school and that of the teachers and educators, they ask, communicate and are updated regularly. In addition, we also hypothesize that the schools will manage the screening in different ways, for example information evenings for parents or conversations with the students, which will of course affect the way in which children are accepted into the program", concludes Dr. Pest.

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