Report: Decline in students eligible for higher level math matriculation certificates

Higher level mathematics studies are still predominately a male field of study, report finds.

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January 27, 2016 17:34
3 minute read.
Minister Naftali

Education Minister Naftali Bennett teaching math to students in Petah Tikva, May 28.. (photo credit: COURTESY EDUCATION MINISTRY)

The percentage of students eligible for higher level mathematics matriculation certificates is in decline, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Central Bureau of Statistics.

The report aimed to provide data regarding entitlements for matriculation certificates and higher education studies of science and technology fields in Israel.

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According to the findings, the highest drop was registered in eligibility for the four unit mathematics matriculation exam (out of 5 possible units) which saw a decline from 31.7 percent in 2009/10 to 24 percent in 2013/14.

There was also a decline, albeit smaller, for students eligible for the five unit mathematics matriculation exam from 19.2 percent in 2009/10 to 17.7 percent in 2013/14.

The data also found that the percentage of students eligible for both higher level mathematics matriculation certificates as well as an additional matriculation certificate in at least on other science and technology field was also in decline - from 17.1 percent in 2009/10 to 15.8 percent in 2013/14.

In breaking down the statistics according to sector, the report found that the rates of eligibility for higher level mathematics matriculation certificates (4 and 5 units) were similar among students in the Arab sector and in the Jewish sector in 2009/10.

The findings showed that for example in 2009/10 some 19 percent of students were eligible for five unit mathematics certificates in both sectors.

However, while among the Jewish population there was no significant change in this figure over the years, in the Arab sector there was a drop to 14 percent in 2013/14.  Both sectors showed a drop in the eligibility for the four unit mathematics matriculation certificate.

The report also showed that higher level mathematics studies are still predominately a male field of study.

Across all the years from 2009/10 to 2013/14 the number of male students who were eligible for higher level mathematics matriculation certificates was much higher than their female counterparts - 43.9% of boys compared to 40% of girls in 2013/14. 

In the five unit matriculation certificate this difference is more evident - 21.4% of male students compared to 14.9% of female students.  While in the four unit matriculation certificate there were more female students than male students over the years.

The report stated that, “students eligible for matriculation certificates that were tested in higher levels of mathematics and especially in five units in mathematics as well as higher level studies of science and technology fields comprise the future potential of students in science and technology fields in academia.”

As such, the report speculated that “the results of these trends [decline] will most likely be seen in the coming years.”

As such, the report also found that in the 2014/15 academic year there were 228,600 students studying in higher academic institutions, 30 percent studying science and technology fields.

Among university students there was a seven percent increase in those studying towards undergraduate degrees in science and technology fields from 32.4% in 2009/10 to 39.6% in 2013/14.  However, there was no change among new students in academic colleges studying towards undergraduate degrees in science and technology fields – roughly 20 percent.

In breaking down the data by sector, the report found that among the Arab students, there was a significant increase of almost 50% in those studying science and technology related fields from 959 students in 20010/11 to 1,410 students in 2014/15.

Despite this, Arab students still constitute only a small percentage of students studying in these fields accounting for 10.2% of new students.

With regard to gender, the number of new female students studying science and technology in universities remained unchanged these past five years, standing at 37.7 percent.

In academic colleges the percentage of female students studying these fields remained lower than in universities but still increased from 27.3% in 2010/11 to 31.2% in 2014/15.

The report also found that students studying in science and technology fields received significantly higher scores than their counterparts, with some 30% of students studying these fields in universities receiving a score of over 700 (out of a possible 800).


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