School Discipline and Scholastic Achievement in Israel
Author: Yossi Shavit, Carmel Blank Working Papers

Israel is an unruly society. It is ethnically and economically stratified and conflict-ridden.

Its dominant Jewish culture celebrates informality, contempt for authority and defiance. Israeli classrooms are usually large, and teachers are poorly paid. These characteristics are reflected in a rather high frequency of disciplinary infractions in Israeli schools. While Israeli legislators are concerned with school discipline and violence, actual legislation has tended to safeguard students’ civil rights, and to impose strict limitations on the sanctions that teachers and principals can employ in their attempts to enforce discipline in schools.

Employing the Israeli TIMSS data files of 2003 we study the school-level determinants of disciplinary infractions and of victimization in Israeli schools. We also study the extent to which disciplinary climate in schools and classrooms affects students’ achievements in math and science, their educational expectations and victimization in schools. Our main and most important result is that school discipline is related significantly, if modestly, to students’ achievements. We found significant negative effects of teachers’ reports of classroom disruption and of student victimization on their test scores. Our results refute the hypotheses that school climate is more disciplined in religious schools than in secular ones. In addition and contrary to oppositional culture theory, the results show that Arab students are more disciplined than Jewish students.

This paper appears as a chapter in the Center’s annual publication, State of the Nation Report 2010, Dan Ben-David (editor).

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