Are Orthodox High Schools/Yeshivot(s) Doing a Good Job?
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Are Orthodox High Schools/Yeshivot(s) Doing a Good Job?

June 27, 2011 09:42AM
A lay leader of a Right-of-Center high school approached me last week with the question of "how can we measure whether we are doing a good job in producing the type of student that we are?". (The premise of the question was that there might be a moment of reflection and introspection and that the answer might be that the school is falling short). But, that sort of got me thinking as to what are the metrics by which we can and should be measuring the products of our day schools and Yeshivot(s). I would think that to some extent, we can identify certain metrics that might cut across different points in the Hashkafic spectrum, from Modern Orthodox to Yeshivish. Therefore, I am reaching out to this forum in an effort to try to come up with some measurable objectives that we could at least in theory look at empirically. Any comments, additions, or corrections would be appreciated.

Let me propose the following 6*:

1. Being a Shomer Torah Umitzvot- The “basics” would be Shabbat, Kashrut, and Taharat Hamishpacha. Some more specific observable manifestations would be making brachot/benching, davening with a minyan, tefillin, and adherence to Halachic Judaism, A bare minimum could be dating and marrying Jewish or belief in God.

2. Being an Inspired Jew- This might include a passion for Yahadut and being proud to be an Orthodox Jew (as opposed to it being perceived as a burden or merely going through the motions to “appear Orthodox”). This might also include maintaining some level of spirituality that would support #1

3. Torah Study- This could take on various flavors of chavruta study, attending classes, or self-study with some level of regularity

4. Career Path- This would be taking the tools, classes gleaned in high school and being on a track (e.g., college, etc.) to earn an honest living.

5.Being a Contributor to the Jewish Community- This could be within the general Jewish community or the Orthodox Community. Being involved at some level in organizations such as one’s shul, school, chessed organizations would fall into this category. It also would include some level of caring about the current state of Orthodoxy as well as its continuity.

6. Passion for Israel and Aliya- This could take the form of Israel activism on campus or the realization that Israel is a core component of existential Judaism and destiny.

*Caveats:

The year or two after high school is usually a critical period, that by definition, is experienced outside of the high school. We know that this period can reinforce, maintain, redefine, or weaken. However, one would assume that at some level, any successes/weaknesses might still be attributed to the influence of the high school. Ideally, a school or Mechanchim would like to think that any successes would be BECAUSE of the high school, rather than IN SPITE OF it. In addition, some high schools publicize the post high school institutions into which their graduates have been accepted, and market that as perhaps the singular outcome measure to the general public. One could argue that if that alone is a valid indicator.

The appropriate interval of time after high school at which to collect these measurements is subject to discussion (e.g., at age 20, 25, 30). Also, while some of the metrics can be collected right away, other of these objectives cannot be accurately realized until some period of time later.

Some of the above are at this point largely subjective, although with agreed-upon definitions might be able to go from theoretical to real.

Number 1 is perhaps the most difficult to operationally define, as there are 613 or more to consider, especially since many of them are not as track-able. There are also some gender differences that apply there. Not to mention the fact that mere mortals cannot make judgments of others in light of various life circumstances. Nevertheless, any high school might view this "label" as a salient outcome worth considering.

Although I included Israel as one of the objectives above, some schools that are on the Right of the spectrum have difficulty with the role of Medinat Yisrael and therefore (unfortunately) exclude it from any level of emphasis within the formal and extra-curricular structure. Therefore, the first 5 might be considered to be more universally applicable in any comparative measurements.

While the focus of this analysis would be high schools in America, one could perhaps use the core objectives as metrics for high schools elsewhere or in Israel.

Elly D. Lasson, Ph.D.
Organizational Psychologist and Consultant
Subject Author Posted

Are Orthodox High Schools/Yeshivot(s) Doing a Good Job?

elasson June 27, 2011 09:42AM

Re: Are Orthodox High Schools/Yeshivot(s) Doing a Good Job?

Joel Guberman June 29, 2011 06:44AM

Re: Are Orthodox High Schools/Yeshivot(s) Doing a Good Job?

Elisha Paul June 29, 2011 08:21AM

Re: Are Orthodox High Schools/Yeshivot(s) Doing a Good Job?

Paul Shaviv July 04, 2011 12:48PM

Re: Are Orthodox High Schools/Yeshivot(s) Doing a Good Job?

Yaakov Blau July 07, 2011 09:57AM

Re: Are Orthodox High Schools/Yeshivot(s) Doing a Good Job?

Yaakov Blau July 11, 2011 07:34PM

Re: Are Orthodox High Schools/Yeshivot(s) Doing a Good Job?

Paul Shaviv July 16, 2011 11:23PM

Re: Are Orthodox High Schools/Yeshivot(s) Doing a Good Job?

Daniel Sayani July 30, 2011 11:33PM



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