Source: Pardes Institute
An evaluation released recently by the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Israel shows the achievements of its teacher training and retention programs, and demonstrates the importance of an active support system for new Judaic Studies teachers. The study, conducted by Research Success Technologies, details findings from two separate research engagements. One, commissioned by the Jim Joseph Foundation, evaluated the Pardes Educators Alumni Support Program (PEASP), while the other, commissioned by The AVI CHAI Foundation, studied the field’s impression of graduates of the Pardes Educators Program (PEP).
For more than a decade, Pardes’s selective two-year Educators Program (PEP), funded by The Avi Chai Foundation, has recruited and trained Judaic studies teachers and helped place them in North American day schools. In 2008, with additional funding support from the Jim Joseph Foundation, the Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project (PEASP) began providing induction support, offering professional development and fostering retention among PEP graduates. Since it was founded in 2000, PEP has graduated 122 Jewish educators, awarding them each a Certificate of Jewish Studies from Pardes along with a Masters in Jewish Education and a Certificate in Jewish Day School Education from Hebrew College, Pardes's institutional partner for this program.
This report summarizes Pardes’s unique approach to training Jewish educators and highlights key learnings from ReST's one and a half years evaluating PEP and PEASP. The document concludes with recommendations for leveraging Pardes’s experience with training and supporting Jewish educators.
The research conducted from June 2010 through December 2011 included:
A formative evaluation of PEASP funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation, which included two phases:
- An evaluation of the role played by PEASP in promoting alumni retention
- An assessment of the possibilities and limitations of an alumni support program for the purpose of professional development and teacher retention in Jewish education and the possible role of Pardes in the field
Market and strategic planning research funded by the Avi Chai Foundation, with two primary goals:
- To gauge the market in terms of: (1) the continuing need for PEP graduates in the field, and (2) the extent of interest from possible partner organizations and funders in supporting Pardes’ work in recruiting, training and supporting Judaic Studies educators
- To suggest pathways for restructuring the program so as to enable Pardes to best meet the market’s needs in a manner that will maximize Pardes’s impact on Jewish education in an economically sustainable way
Pardes is unique in its emphasis on participation in a vibrant community of learners as the basis for building knowledge, skills and motivation required for Judaic Studies educators. Pardes refers to this intensive learning environment – which embraces diverse learners, approaches and ideas in the exploration of Jewish texts – as the Open Beit Midrash (OBM). The research, conducted from June 2010 through December 2011, recommends that Pardes continue to focus and further develop this core expertise.
Among other key findings, the study notes that:
- Pardes is achieving its primary goal of placing and retaining talented Judaic Studies teachers in Jewish high schools, day schools and other Jewish educational institutions in North America. Of the six PEP cohorts (at the time of the research in Summer/Fall 2010) whose graduates had completed between three and eight years of day school teaching, 65% were still in day school education.
- PEP alumni report that the primary role PEASP plays for retention is to preserve the feeling of membership in a supportive and visionary community. The evaluation confirms the importance of the focus on the first three years for retention.
- Heads of school and experts in the field regard PEP alumni as high quality Judaic Studies teachers and confirm that there remains a need for such educators.
Read the full summary report here.