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Center for Literacy Research

Center for Literacy Research

Chaired by Professor Joseph Shimron
 
Background
Literacy has been shown to serve as a key foundation for a child's success in school and later throughout life. Unfortunately, Israel’s children, especially in the periphery, are lagging behind other developed countries in reading comprehension and mathematical problem solving. In recent international comparative studies, Israel ranks significantly lower than the OECD average in the PISA tests.* It has been shown that the low scores predominantly result from the exceptionally low academic achievements in certain segments of Israel’s population, in particular among immigrants, families of low socio-economic status, and the Arab sector. The educational challenges in these populations have not been adequately investigated in order to effectively guide the educational system in addressing the needs of these pupils.
 
WGC Center for Literacy Research
Established to promote Hebrew and Arabic literacy education in the Galilee and to stimulate novel research on literacy education, WGC’s Center for Literacy Research aspires to serve the entire region as a platform for literacy training. The Center is a pioneer in the field, as Israel does not have a central body dedicated to literacy research.
 
A central project of the Center is conducted in cooperation with the Education Department of the city of Akko. WGC faculty and trained students provide ongoing evaluation and greatly needed assistance to pupils with learning difficulties in Jewish and Arab schools in Akko. Activities include: reading projects and parents’ workshops series in kindergartens, identification and treatment of second grade pupils with reading difficulties, and work in developing mathematical thinking with fourth graders with difficulties.
 
WGC is strategically poised to lead groundbreaking research in literacy:
The Center’s location in Akko enables the conduction of vital research on the disadvantaged populations which have not been specifically addressed in current studies.
  • Akko’s Department of Education estimates that approximately 50% of their students come from families with low socio-economic backgrounds, which tend to neglect the promotion of literacy skills in the family.
  • Studies with these pupils will have great potential to significantly contribute to raising Israel’s level of education.
There are very few researchers and studies that focus on Arabic literacy (globally and in Israel).
  • Educational achievement studies in Israel indicate a wide gap between Jewish and Arab students.
  • The research activities of the Center will meaningfully contribute insight into the challenges and processes involved in Arabic literacy acquisition.
The Center is led by Professor Joseph Shimron, renowned expert in the psychology of language and reading and head of the WGC Department of Education.
  • Prof. Shimron formerly served as Chair of the Steering Committee for Reform of Reading Instruction and Literacy Education in Israeli Schools (appointed by the Minister of Education).
 
The expertise of WGC faculty in related disciplines provides opportunity for innovative interdisciplinary approaches, including researchers in the fields of psychology, education, language, mathematics, sociology, culture, and communication.
 
 
Activities of the Research Center:
By initiating and encouraging research, the Center improves the understanding of literacy acquisition processes of pupils with learning difficulties and will be able to examine teaching and diagnostic methods regarding reading and writing difficulties in language and mathematics. The Center will collaborate with literacy researchers from other academic institutions in Israel and will engage in studies of Hebrew and Arabic literacy, as well as literacy in English as a second language. Hosting seminars and fostering the creation of focused working groups will further enhance the Center’s position as Israel’s hub for literacy research.
 
 
 
* The PISA assessment evaluates education systems worldwide by testing pupils’ skills and knowledge via tests designed to assess to what extent they can apply their knowledge to real-life situations and be equipped for full participation in society.
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