ICEI Promotes Literacy Among Ethiopian-Israelis

While Jewish Federation provides funding for many programs and organizations locally, we also support programs around the world. One example is the Israel Center for Educational Innovation’s “It’s Elementary” program, which is backed both by Israel’s Ministry of Education and the cities it operates in.

In particular, Federation funds are supporting this program in schools in Ramle, Kansas City’s sister city in Israel. The “It’s Elementary” program is targeted toward students in first and second grade who struggle with reading and fluency. The program operates in 14 cities across Israel, many with underprivileged students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. 

“It’s Elementary” works in three ways to help improve literacy rates in schools: The first is by staffing full-time literacy coaches who work with teachers in target grade levels. The second is by providing data on a range of metrics to schools, including reading comprehension, linguistic and phonological awareness, and writing skills, so that they can track progress. The third is by having a mentor work with school principals twice a month on data assessment, supporting teachers, and expanding the methods of the program to the rest of the school beyond the targeted grade levels.

The Ma’anit and Harin schools in Ramle have had the program since 2018. These schools are unique because between the two, 21% of the student population is Ethiopian-Israeli, despite being less than 1% of Israel’s overall population. Assessments at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year predicted that 39% of first grade students would be able to read a story by the end of the school year. With the help of the “It’s Elementary” program, 81% of first grade students were able to read a story, more than doubling the predicted literacy rate. This year, a third school in Ramle, the Ben Zvi School, will begin the program thanks to Federation’s support.