Looking back at how Prizmah’s research and data collection portfolio has evolved, I think about how we’ve turned to conducting field research that enables day school leaders and stakeholders to understand fieldwide trends and place what is happening on the ground in their schools into the larger context of regional and national trends. Through strategically implementing the use of pulse surveys, through deeper dives often involving qualitative research and through school benchmarking, we’re helping to grow a knowledgeable, data-informed, research-focused field of Jewish day schools and yeshivas. Our research and data collection efforts are part of a Jewish educational research ecosystem of researchers and practitioners who care deeply about Jewish education in North America.
Powering A Data-Informed Field to Utilize Research
The pandemic spurred a critical need for knowledge to support the decisions that day school lay and professional leaders were making and an urgency to understand the effects of the pandemic on many areas of school functioning. We began to field pulse surveys about how schools were operating during school closures and how the pandemic was affecting enrollment and development. School leaders expressed that the survey findings helped them feel part of a larger field of day schools. They learned that others were making decisions similar to theirs; understanding what other schools were doing helped them pivot and know about fresh ideas.
Daniel Weiss, head of school at Bornblum Jewish Community School in Memphis, shared:
During the course of the early days of the pandemic, Prizmah's pulse surveys allowed for our school to consider things that we had not previously considered and provided context to the decisions that we had already made. It was good for our board and community to see that the decisions we were making fell in line with those of other schools across the country. Additionally, the surveys provided us a deeper recognition that many areas of concern faced by others across the country were not concerns that we were addressing. It strengthened our resolve in the decision-making process to push ourselves further.
We continue to conduct pulse surveys, and our third enrollment report will be published shortly on 2022 enrollment trends. In principle, we are collecting data first and foremost to benefit and help schools, not sit on a shelf. We are committed to reporting back the findings with immediacy after the data is collected for optimal utility.
For topics that necessitate a deeper understanding and an uncovering of multiple narratives and nuance, we’ve turned to qualitative approaches to research. For example in “Jewish Day School New Parent Study 2021,” 114 parents who transferred their children into a day school during the pandemic were interviewed. In “Unlocking Leadership: Obstacles and Opportunities for Improved Day School Volunteer Leadership,” researchers spoke to 60 individuals about their experiences on day school boards.
Through Prizmah’s partnership with the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), benchmarking is another tool now available for day school lay and professional leaders. At Prizmah, we continue to grow the cohort of Jewish day schools and yeshivas participating in annual enrollment, development and financial benchmarking using the Data and Analysis for School Leadership (DASL) platform.
Now used by more than 100 Jewish day schools and yeshivas, DASL allows schools to benchmark against other Jewish day schools and independent schools. It enables school lay and professional leaders to access meaningful financial and operational benchmarks to help with strategic decision making. We regularly aggregate and report on national benchmarks on salary, benefit and other data based on DASL reporting.
Prizmah partnered with BoardSource to develop a Board Self-Assessment tool that benchmarked the practices of day school and yeshiva boards against other schools of similar type and independent day schools. To share the findings beyond the set of schools that directly participated, we published a report of the major findings, “Jewish Day School Boards: Snapshots of the Field."
Prizmah as a Data-Driven Organization
At Prizmah, we believe in the concept of tocho kevoro, that our internal processes should reflect what we champion for the field. Just as we support and lead the field to be data-driven, we are a data-driven organization. We live this value by utilizing the data and research we’re conducting to inform the services we are providing to schools. It allows us to anticipate trends, address emerging needs, and hone our programs and services to support and lead the field. For example, “Learning Leadership Landscape: Experiences and Opportunities for Jewish Day School Personnel,” a study designed to understand what learning opportunities exist for day school leaders, conducted by Rosov Consulting for Prizmah, outlined a conceptual framework on leadership capacities and dispositions. The conceptual framework informs our YOU Lead program design and focus, equipping leaders to succeed with the unique capacities and dispositions needed in our day school and yeshiva landscape. Being a data-driven organization, we also take program evaluation seriously and use it as a way to measure outcomes and inform our strategy.
Prizmah is dedicated to creating a strategic and systematic approach to research, data collection and knowledge sharing. We work to collect learning and insights from the field of Jewish day schools and yeshivas in order to inform, inspire and empower each individual and community. Through pulse surveys, qualitative research that provides a deeper dive on specific topics, and benchmarking, our knowledge, data and research about the field of Jewish day schools continues to grow. Lay and professional leaders are able to access critical research and data to help their schools thrive and flourish.
Enrollment Pulse Survey Report 2022 [Coming out soon]
School Closure and Opening Planning
Deeper Dives: Qualitative Research
2020-2021 Employee Benefits Report (Network only resource)