Assessing the effectiveness of the "Scientific-Technological Reserves" and "Give Five" programs
Assessing the effectiveness of the "Scientific-Technological Reserves" and "Give Five" programs in increasing the share of those taking high levels of math and scientific-technological subjects
- The Ministry of Education runs the "Scientific-Technological Reserves" program in some middle schools and high schools with the goal of increasing the percentage of those taking the 5-unit “Bagrut” matriculation exams in math and in two other scientific-technological subjects (hereinafter, “the Reserves subjects aggregate”). It also runs the "Give Five" program in high schools to strengthen mathematics studies at the 5-unit level.
- Through 2017, the Reserves program led to an increase of 4–5 percentage points in the share of school students in the program taking the 5-unit test in math and in the Reserves subjects aggregate, compared to students who did not participate in the two programs.
- The impact of the Reserves program on female students was 1–2 percentage points greater than on male students, as well as on those whose grades on 8th grade standardized “Meitzav” tests were above average compared with those whose grades were lower than average.
- The "Give Five" program increased the share of those taking the 5-unit test in math by almost 3 percentage points, and had an effect only on male students.
- The increase in the percentage of those taking the 5-unit test in math due to the two programs was not accompanied by a noticeable decline in the percentage of those passing the tests or in their scores.
- Preliminary findings indicate that the Reserves program increased the probability of graduates from the Arab school system beginning Bachelor's studies in sciences (through 2018) by an order of 2 percentage points. At this stage, the data do not provide for the examination of the issue regarding the "Give Five" program, or among graduates of the Hebrew school system.
Research conducted by Noam Zussman of the Bank of Israel’s Research Department and David Maagan of the Senior Education and Society Department in the Central Bureau of Statistics—an abridged version of which will appear in the Bank of Israel’s upcoming “Selected Policy Analyses and Research Notes”—examines the effect of two programs initiated by the Ministry of Education to bolster math and science studies in schools—the "Scientific-Technological Reserves" and "Give Five" programs.
In the Reserves program, which began in 2011, students in grades 7–12 receive additional teaching hours to enhance the scientific-technological content. In 2018, 32 independent middle schools and 239 high schools (including 6-year institutions) participated, representing approximately 23 percent of total high schools (excluding special education and ultra-Orthodox education systems). The expenditure on the programs in 2018 totaled about NIS 107 million and the cumulative cost per student in grades 7–12 was about NIS 10,000. In the “Give Five” program, teaching hours are added to bolster math studies in some high schools (that are not in the Reserves program) and additional activities are taken in the overall education system. The program began in 2015, and in 2018, there were 406 high schools that participated in it, representing around 39 percent of total high schools (excluding the special education and ultra-Orthodox education systems).
The research is based on a combination of several administrative files in the Central Bureau of Statistics and included schools that were in operation in 2006–17 consecutively (excluding the special the ultra-Orthodox education systems, agricultural schools, and small schools), comparing schools that participated in each program with those that did not participate in them.
Figure 1 presents the development of the share of those taking the 5-unit tests in math throughout the years, divided among high schools in the Reserves program, in the “Give Five” program, and other schools that did not participate in either program. Before their operation, there was a similar continued decline in those taking the 5-unit tests in all three types of school, while after their operation the trend reversed, and the increase in the share of those taking the test was more rapid among the schools in the programs. The share of those taking the test in the aggregate of scientific-technological subjects developed similarly.
Estimations that took into account the students’ background, the schools’ and teachers’ characteristics, and other features, found that the share of those taking 5-unit tests in math in schools that participated in the Scientific-Technological Reserves program increased from the beginning of the program through 2017 by 5 percentage points compared with the share in other schools. This is a marked increase compared with the share of those taking the test in the Reserves schools prior to the start of the program, which was 13 percent. The impact of the program was greater by 1–2 percentage points among female students compared with male students, and among those whose grades on 8th grade standardized Meitzav tests were higher than average compared with those whose grades were lower than average.
Through 2017, the Reserves program increased the share of test takers in the Reserves subjects aggregate by approximately 4 percentage points; just before the operation of the program the share of test takers in the aggregate was about 8 percent, so it is an increase of about 50 percent in the share. Part of it derived from an increase in the share of those taking the 5-unit tests in math; however, the share of those tested in physics and computer sciences at 5 units in Reserves schools increased by 2–3 percentage points compared with their share in other schools. The program also increased the share of 5-unit test takers in math by about 3 percentage points compared with schools that participated in the “Give Five” program.
With regard to the “Give Five” program, the research found that it increased the share of 5-unit test takers in math by almost 3 percentage points (the share was 13 percent just before the program’s operation) compared with the share in other schools. The impact of the program was focused on male students (a relative increase of about 4 percentage points), and was not noticeable among female students.
An important finding of the research is that after implementing the two programs, the share of those passing the 5-unit test in math and the grade on it did not noticeably decline, meaning the increase in quantity of test takers did not come at the expense of their achievements.
The two programs are indirectly intended to increase the share of those applying to academic studies in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, which will probably lead to successful integration in the labor market, including in high tech. A large percentage of the program’s graduates, who served in the army and are interested in continuing with higher education, have not yet been able to do so. Thus the research compiles initial estimates of the impact of the Reserves program on the integration of graduates from the Arab education system (excluding Druze men), who completed 12th grade by 2016, in Bachelor’s degree programs in sciences (through 2018). This share increased by about 2 percentage points compared with graduates of other Arab schools (in 2012, 4.7 percent of graduates from the Reserve program’s Arab schools began to study sciences). The program also increased by about 1 percentage point the share of those beginning to study fields that are affiliated with high tech (in 2012, about 3.7 percent of graduates from the Reserve program’s Arab schools began to study high tech fields). In the future, it will be possible to calculate similar estimates among graduates of the Jewish education system, as they reach the common age starting higher education studies, and among students of “Give Five” schools.
An approximate cost-benefit calculation of the "Scientific-Technological Reserves" program indicates that the average cost per student in a school that participated in the program from 7th grade through 12th grade is about NIS 1,100 and the increase in expected salary over a lifetime due to the increase in the probability of beginning academic studies in sciences compared with those of social-sciences graduates is about NIS 14,000 in current terms (meaning, at present value). As such, the benefit of the Reserves program is more than ten times greater than its cost.
The Share of 5-unit Test Takers in Math among 12th Graders: Students in Schools Participating in the “Scientific-Technological Reserves” and “Give Five” Programs, and in Other Schoolsa (percent)
SOURCE: Based on Ministry of Education.
a Schools in the research population. Schools in the “Scientific-Technological Reserves”—only those in which the program ran consecutively from 2011 (or the pilot in 2010) through the end of 2017; Schools in the “Give Five” program—only those in which the program ran consecutively from 2015 through the end of 2017; other schools—schools in which neither program ran through the end of 2017.