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Choosing excellence
Israel will be one of the 15 outstanding countries on the PISA tests

Sparking a combined system-wide push in middle school by focusing on teaching and learning in order to enable students to deepen their knowledge, develop skills and begin to specialize. The objective is to build a systematic and coordinated effort founded on the profound need to raise the bar and calibrate educational practice upwards in middle school within three circles – from the level of the student, through study and teaching materials and up to the school and the education system.

During the course of middle school, students have the time and the opportunity to prepare well for their future. In an informed way, they need to clarify what interests them, what they are good at, what gives them a sense of achievement, and the extent to which they are willing to strive for it. They must begin to formulate a picture of their future even if it is drawn only in general lines. Above all, they must very seriously relate to their studies with the understanding of their importance to their future life, and build a solid foundation of knowledge and skills.

Therefore, the Foundation along with its partners are turning to the students, the teachers and the parents and calling upon them to take responsibility and invest in mathematics and sciences studies in middle school. This is a significant period of learning at the end of which there is an important juncture and students will decide which specialization study tracks to choose for high school. It is, perhaps, the first time they will be choosing their path in the education system. It is a choice that will have influence on their matriculation certificate and to a degree, further down their path to the future as well – in the military, in higher education, and in the labor market.

  1. ocus on learning
    In order to cope with complex tasks at a high level of thinking, students need a lot of knowledge, strong motivation, and the ability to learn independently. To do so, they will need digital tools and the pedagogical, social and emotional support of their teachers, parents, mentors and friends. 
  2. Learning materials
    In order to create meaningful momentum for teaching and learning in middle school, challenging content in increasing levels of difficulty is needed. For mathematics studies, there is a need for applied tasks at high levels of thinking which encourage the use of mathematical models in different real-life contexts. For the study of all types of sciences, there will be a need for materials that rely on a solid mathematical foundation and on advanced mathematical skills.
  3. Quality teaching
    In order to incorporate content at a high level of application, quality instruction is required – that which is adapted to the students’ performance on tasks needing a high level of thinking, comprehension and implementation. Such teaching ability will be developed by excellent teachers; and, with the assistance of academic experts they will, together, build professional development frameworks and tools, joint work routines, and graduated teaching processes.
  4. Expanding excellence
    In order for excellence-level learning to expand and deepen, highly defined preparation is necessary. The excellence tracks must be developed in a balanced manner, using clear and consistent pedagogy based on each student’s learning progress data. A culture is needed that encourages excellence, draws a picture of the future, sets high personal targets, relies on teachers, and builds a continuum and continuity from primary school to high school
  5. Circles of influence
    In order for students to choose to learn and persist in excellence tracks in middle schools – study tracks which are difficult and demanding – they must understand and feel that they chose correctly. In order for teachers to choose to teach in these tracks and remain in them, they also need to be convinced and to sense that it is a worthwhile professional calling. This requires that momentum be created among the public around the idea of excellence in middle school, supplemented by a professional community, a common language, broad consensus, and a social movement.