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National Study on Jewish Teens to Explore How Programs Are Helping them “Flourish in Today’s World”

September 15th, 2017

A new national project will explore the learning and growth outcomes of teen experiences offered by the largest organizations that engage Jewish teens in North America. The study, led by The Jewish Education Project (TJEP) and Rosov Consulting (RC), will seek to gather data from as many as 50,000 7th-12th graders across North America.

Supported by the Jim Joseph Foundation, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah, the study builds on the previous and ongoing work of the Jewish Teen Education and Engagement Funder Collaborative, a group of national and local funders that develops new approaches to engaging teens in Jewish experiences. The study also utilizes the Teen Jewish Learning and Engagement Scales (TJLES), which focus on understanding the whole Jewish teen and ask the key question, “How can being Jewish make Jewish teenagers more likely to flourish in today’s world?”

The new learning and growth outcomes for Jewish teens, together with the TJLES, are critical tools for measuring success. By using them, youth organizations can help communities more deeply understand how their programs influence Jewish teenagers in ways that are meaningful and that add genuine value to teens’ lives. We are committed to working with lay and professional leadership of youth organizations, at the national and local levels, to implement changes they identify in relation to these outcomes. Together, we can all improve and add even more meaning into the lives of the tens of thousands of Jewish teens whom these organizations engage.
David Bryfman, Chief Innovation Officer of The Jewish Education Project

The project will afford each organization the opportunity to measure itself against combined data from all other organizations in the study and to track improvement in their own outcomes over time, if they use the TJLES repeatedly. Data gathered for the study also will enable organizations to design and implement better programs aligned with the Jewish learning and growth outcomes; to more effectively share stories about their teen programs; and to attract resources to advance their programmatic reach and impact.

This is a comprehensive and uniform approach to measuring how the largest youth-serving organizations are changing lives. We’ve been fortunate to be a part of this wave of Jewish teen engagement efforts, research, and program evaluation since it began more than five years ago. It’s especially exciting to see that this new paradigm for understanding Jewish teens and for measuring these programs is leading to action across the country.
– Wendy Rosov, Principal of Rosov Consulting

The TJLES, currently utilized by the Funder Collaborative, continue a meaningful shift in how Jewish teen engagement is measured—away from a focus on attendance and a simplistic understanding of whether a community is “making teens more Jewish.” The TJLES will measure whether:

  • Jewish teens have a strong sense of self;
  • Jewish teens establish strong friendships; and
  • Jewish teens develop strong and healthy relationships with their families.

Other outcomes more Jewishly-focused, but still concerned with the teen’s development include whether:

  • Jewish teens learn about and positively experience Jewish holidays and Shabbat;
  • Jewish teens can express their values and ethics in relation to Jewish principles and wisdom; and
  • Jewish teens develop a positive relationship to the people, land, and state of Israel.

Using a common evaluative tool like TJLES across organizations provides an unprecedented opportunity for learning and collaboration among organizations most capable of reaching and inspiring Jewish teens.
Matt Grossman, CEO of BBYO

The Rosov Consulting team will lead the research design, implementation, and analysis of the project. TJEP will work directly with the youth-serving organizations to understand the findings and share the research widely.

This ambitious study shows that the Jewish community is serious about addressing the whole teen, which we believe is critical to ensuring the health and well-being of individual teens, their families, and the future of Jewish life. As a result of participating in this project, we believe that Moving Traditions and the field of Jewish teen education will improve the efficacy of our evaluation efforts—leading to better outcomes for the teens we seek to grow into confident, compassionate, and connected Jewish adults.
– Deborah Meyer, Founder and CEO of Moving Traditions