Career Trajectories of Jewish Educators Study

August 20th, 2021

It has been more than ten years since the last systematic effort to collect data about the Jewish educator workforce; in some areas of Jewish education no large-scale data have ever been collected. The CASJE Career Trajectories of Jewish Educators Study was designed to provide usable knowledge about the recruitment, retention and development of Jewish educators. Beginning July 2021 CASJE released a series of reports and briefs highlighting findings from the study.

This study is animated by the belief that research-based knowledge is a critical resource in tackling complex problems in Jewish education. Insights generated through research can inform planning strategies for the field, guide philanthropic investment, and frame the design of well-conceived programmatic interventions. In this case the focus is on increasing the capacity to support Jewish educators at all stages of their careers.

CASJE identified ten key findings that are explained in greater detail (along with other findings) in the research reports:

  1.  Jewish educators are mission driven, love Jewish learning, and share an abiding commitment to serving others. For many, especially those who participate in university-based pre-service programs, this sense of mission is a source of resilience in overcoming challenges they face in the field.
  2. The perceived low status of Jewish educators, the perceived parochial nature of Jewish educational settings, and limited or outdated perspectives on the kinds of work Jewish educators do, are barriers to enticing entrants to careers in Jewish education.
  3. Almost half of current Jewish educators report entering the field in response to a job opportunity rather than proactively choosing to enter the field; fewer than half of new educators have participated in formal pre-service preparation.
  4. In many sectors of Jewish education there is no clear career ladder for educators; often the only pathway to advancement is in taking on administrative work.
  5. Continuous and high-quality professional development opportunities that correlate with improved outcomes for educators are not accessible to enough Jewish educators.
  6. Although Jewish educators tend to report good relationships with supervisors, mentorship and support for ongoing professional development are generally viewed as inadequate.
  7. Most Jewish educators are dissatisfied with the compensation and benefits they receive. Female respondents are typically paid less than their male peers, and early childhood education lags in salary and benefits.
  8. The popular narrative of a personnel crisis in Jewish education is fueled by trends in the supplementary-school labor market. Programs such as camping or social justice and innovation report a large pool of talented candidates from which to recruit educators, while day schools and early childhood programs face somewhat tougher supply-side challenges.
  9. There is a lively and growing market for independent providers of professional learning, in part driven by employers who do not demand formal degree completion or certification. Independent providers generally emphasize the personal growth of the educator and relationship building skills; degree-granting university based programs emphasize professional knowledge and technical skills.
  10. The number of educators enrolled in degree-granting programs has increased during the last thirty years, a trend driven by growth in specialty programs and dependent on availability of philanthropic support.

Additional Info and Analysis

Read the Reports

An Invitation to Action: Findings and Implications across the Career Trajectories of Jewish Educators Study
An Invitation to Action weaves together learnings from the previous strands and draws on the learnings produced to address the questions that have animated this work from its start. Summaries of the main findings from each strand can be found in the reports and briefs previously released. Here, researchers bring these findings into conversation with one another.

Mapping the Market: An Analysis of the Preparation, Support, and Employment of Jewish Educators 
Mapping the Market looks at the labor market for Jewish education in the United States, analyzing both supply-side and demand-side data to understand what employers look for in Jewish educators and how pre-service and professional development programs prepare educators to meet the needs of the learners and communities they serve.

On the Journey
On the Journey is designed to elucidate the career pathways of Jewish educators, including their professional growth, compensation, workplace conditions and lived experiences. In 2019 CASJE published the white paper On the Journey: Concepts That Support a Study of the Professional Trajectories of Jewish Educators, which lays out the framework and key questions that underlie this inquiry and serves as a companion to these research briefs. On the Journey will be published as four research briefs that address career paths, professional learning, workplace environments, and compensation.

Preparing for Entry: Fresh Perspectives on How and Why People Become Jewish Educators
Preparing for Entry is designed to understand the pathways by which people enter the field of Jewish education and identify factors that advance or inhibit launching a career in Jewish education. In 2020 CASJE published the white paper Preparing for Entry: Concepts That Support a Study of What It Takes to Launch a Career in Jewish Education, which lays out the framework and key questions that underlie this inquiry and serves as a companion to this report.