Reaching the Top 15 Excelling Countries
Creating a systemic focus on teaching and learning in middle school, in order to enable many more students to study at levels of excellence. We aim to catalyze a coordinated effort to recalibrate educational work in middle schools upwards, starting from students and teachers, through an upgrade of instructional materials and up to support networks in schools, municipalities, charters and districts.
While attending middle school, students have ample time and opportunity to prepare for their future. They need to find out – in an informed manner – where their interests lie, what they are good at, what makes them feel successful, and whether they are willing to work hard at it. They should start forming a snapshot of their own future, even if it is still painted with a broad brush. More than anything, they need to take their studies very seriously and understand how important they are for the rest of their lives and in order to build a solid foundation of knowledge and skill.
To this end, the Trump Family Foundation and its partners call on students, teachers and parents to take responsibility for, and invest in, the middle school math and science curriculum. This is a significant period of studies, at the end of which awaits an important junction, where students need to choose their high school majors. It may be the first time they have a chance to choose their path in the education system. It is a choice that impacts their matriculation certificate, and to some extent their more distant future path as well – in the IDF, higher education and the labor market.
- Focus 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 platforms and the pedagogical, social and emotional support of their teachers, parents, mentors and peers.
- Learning materials
In order to create momentum for teaching and learning in middle school, it will be essential to develop challenging learning materials increasing levels of difficulty. For mathematics studies, there is a need for applied tasks at high levels of thinking which encourage the application of mathematical models in different real-life contexts. For the sciences, there is a need for materials that rely on a solid mathematical foundation and on advanced mathematical skills.
- Quality teaching
In order to incorporate materials at a high level of application, we are helping teachers to jointly cultivate ambitious teaching that leads students to successfully tackle complex mathematical tasks. Such teaching ability will be developed by excellent teachers. With the assistance of academic experts they will form professional learning communities, joint work routines, and incremental teaching processes.
- 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.
- 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.