The achievements of pupils in the field of mathematics are a “cause for concern,” according to the latest report released by State Comptroller Joseph Shapira on Wednesday.

“Mathematics is one of the central subjects studied in the Israeli education system, and placing students in the mathematics matriculation exam is one of the requirements to receive a matriculation certificate,” Shapira wrote. “The state of mathematics education in recent years is worrisome.”

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The report cited low national and international test scores, a low percentage of students taking the matriculation exams at higher levels, a lack of qualified teachers, a large gap among sectors of society and a lower number of students applying to higher education in mathematics and sciences.

According to the state comptroller’s findings, the Education Ministry has undertaken tremendous efforts to promote the study of mathematics, such as increasing the hours of study per week, implementing new lesson plans, training teachers in mathematics and planning to cultivate mathematics studies among excelling pupils.

Despite these efforts, the report stated that the goals set forth by the ministry to improve achievements in mathematics were only partially achieved. In addition, large gaps continue to widen between the achievements of Jewish students and other minorities, and Shapira called on the ministry to assess its current strategy to minimize these gaps.

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