Fewer Israeli students matriculating, less improvement in test results
In 2010-2011, there was a slight, 0.4 percent increase in matriculation exam scores among Jewish 17-year-old students (excluding Haredim ). During the same school year, there was a dramatic 4% drop in the number of Arab pupils enrolled in the senior year of high school. More than 20 percent of Arab pupils (not taking into account East Jerusalem ) do not study in the school system for the full 12 years. There was also a drop in the percentage of Arab pupils who register for matriculation exams.
In the Jewish sector (excluding the ultra-Orthodox ), 68 percent of high school seniors pass matriculation exams, whereas the figure among Arab seniors is just 50%. Among Druze, just 47 percent of 17-year-olds pass matriculation exams, while the figure for Bedouin is just 29.7 percent (though this 2010-2011 figure for Bedouin pupils represents a 1.5 percent increase compared to the preceding year ).
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar told a news conference that "among the entire age group in question, there was a 0.2% drop [in matriculation exam success], and such results do not satisfy me, yet there can be no retreat from the goal of consistent improvement in these exams." Sa'ar added: "We have not found answers to all questions in the school system - but there are also signs of continued positive trends in education."
Sa'ar expressed doubt about a finding that half of young Israelis lack complete matriculation certificates. The data released yesterday, he explained, do not incorporate out-of-school matriculation exam courses and programs, and once these are taken into account, more than half the country's young people have the certificates.
Starting next year, Sa'ar said, there will be a change in the way the matriculation exam data is compiled - essentially "irrelevant reference groups," such as some Haredim and East Jerusalem pupils, will not be included in the tallies.
"For ideological reasons," he said, "persons in these groups do not register for matriculation exams, and so they should not be taken into account when total figures about matriculation exam certificates are computed."
By Talila Nesher