Special analysis by the Bank of Israel Research Department: The education system in Israel
The Bank of Israel is publishing today a series of analyses conducted by the Research Department on the subject of education, as part of the work at the Bank to identify the challenges and to formulate recommendations to advance the human capital in Israel, as presented in the Productivity Report. The goal of the research is to lead to improved quality of teaching and learning, as well as bringing the education system in line with the technological changes and challenges of the future while reducing gaps in society.
Following are abstracts of the analyses. Each analysis will be published separately, and includes bullets with highlights:
· The first analysis examines the preparedness of the education system in Israel to switch to remote learning, as it was able to be assessed prior to the coronavirus crisis and the differences in readiness among various population groups in Israeli society and in international comparison. The analysis refers to 2 aspects of the readiness for remote learning: students’ access to infrastructures that allow effective remote learning (a quiet place for studying and an Internet-connected computer) and the readiness of the school to integrate digital tools into teaching (teachers’ skills level and extent of use of digital tools in routine teaching). The examination of the level of access to remote learning infrastructure indicated that 60 percent of households in Israel have good access to remote learning—both a quiet place for studying and access to a computer; for 20 percent of households the access to remote learning infrastructure is very low. A high percentage of the students with a low level of access to remote learning infrastructure belong to the ultra-Orthodox sector or to Arab society, two population groups characterized by low income. A comparison of the level of readiness among students in routine times (excluding competition for resources from other family members) based on PISA data indicated that close to 80 percent of students in Israel have good access to remote learning infrastructure (a combination of access to a quite place for studying and an Internet-connected computer), a level slightly below the OECD average (81 percent). Analyzing an examination of the readiness level of schools indicates that only half the schools in Israel have a teaching force with the technical and pedagogical skills to switch to learning via digital tools, and sufficient support resources and technical assistance. This figure is statistically significantly lower than the OECD average. Only approximately one-third of schools in Israel had plans for integrating digital tools into teaching in the period preceding the coronavirus and the scope of digital infrastructure available at schools is markedly lower than in the comparison countries. Our recommendation is that to the extent that the system will be required to switch again to a remote learning situation (a “second wave”), the number of hours in which all the students in a class are required to learn in parallel (synchronous hours) should be reduced, which will allow a classification of the instruction hours so that different grades will learn at different times. The combination of these processes is expected to reduce the pressure on the home infrastructure for remote learning. In addition, it is important to rapidly promote professional training of teaching staffs and to upgrade the study plans in the digital environment.
· The second analysis deals with the achievement gaps between students in the State-Arab education stream and students in the Hebrew-speaking educational streams. When comparing achievements between schools in a similar socioeconomic segment, it is found that the achievements of the Arabic-speaking schools exceed those of Hebrew-speaking schools. These findings support the hypothesis that the achievement gaps between the Hebrew-speaking education system and the Arabic-speaking system derive mainly from the difference in socioeconomic composition of the two groups. The findings of the research indicate that the claim regarding inefficiency in the Arabic-speaking education system relative to the Hebrew-speaking system is not supported by the data when the comparison is made between schools in a similar socioeconomic segment.
· The third analysis examines the question of “who are the students who aspire to a teaching career in Israel?” based on insights from PISA tests. In this regard, research indicates a correlation between countries’ achievements in international tests and the achievements of 15-year-old students who aspire to be teachers when they are older relative to other students in their country. In Israel, the status of the teaching profession is low in international comparison, which makes it difficult to attract highly talented people to the education system. An international comparison of the achievements of students aiming to be teachers when they are older indicates that in Israel such students have lower achievement levels than most of their counterparts in OECD countries. Based on research worldwide, in order to attract higher qualified people to the education system, teachers’ working conditions and the status of the teaching profession among the public should be improved.
 The series of analyses was arranged and promoted by Sefi Bahar from the Bank’s Research Department. He was assisted by professional functions in the Bank as well as outside it.
 The press release and full report can be found at
 The education system in Israel is divided into 4 main streams (State-Jewish, State-Arab, State Religious, and ultra-Orthodox), serving population sectors that are differentiated by language of instruction, level of religious studies, and educational content.