School improvement and the 'success for all' initiative in Israel : a study of an underperforming secondary school
This research evaluated the Israeli "Success for All" school improvement programme implemented in 10th grade, in an under-performing comprehensive high school (the experimental school) in a development town in Israel, during the year 1999-2000. The major aim of the programme was to increase the percentage of pupils passing the four 10th grade matriculation exams. Other aims included: increasing pupil motivation to succeed, heightening pupil educational self-image and school image, and eliminating pupil dropout. Data from sixty pupils and sixty parents, eight teachers and two administrators from the experimental school were compared with data from twenty-five pupils, four teachers and the principal of another under-performing, comprehensive high school in the same town, with a similar population mix (control school). Research tools included: questionnaires and semi-structured interviews at the beginning and end of the school year and documentary research (including matriculation scores and dropout rates). Results show that over 93% of the experimental school pupils passed the four 10th grade matriculation exams, a percentage significantly higher than previous years and significantly higher than the results achieved by control school pupils in the exams taken by both schools. They also compared very favourably with the national norms. Other results showed an improved educational self-image and school image in the experimental school; no change was observed in the control school. In spite of the difficulties involved in distinguishing the impact of one variable in a complex school context, this research concluded that the SFA was most probably responsible for the above positive outcomes. The SFA was a wide-ranging, multi-faceted programme planned to expand and include all grades. Due to its high cost and budget problems in Israel, it was discontinued after one year. This study also examined the SFA in light of effective schools and school improvement literature. Suggestions were made for an improved, less costly, programme.