Rich pupils do better in school than their poorer classmates

Meitzav test shows academic achievement gaps between Hebrew-speaking and Arabic-speaking students.

November 17, 2015 17:20
2 minute read.

School children in class. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)


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Pupils from high socioeconomic backgrounds are performing significantly better in school than their peers from low socioeconomic standings, according to the results of the Meitzav elementary school assessment exam released on Tuesday.

The Meitzav achievement exam, administered to fifth and eighth graders at schools around the country every three years, tests language, math and science skills.

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Fifth graders are tested in three disciplines – mathematics, English, and in their mother tongue language, either Hebrew or Arabic.

Eighth graders are tested in four disciplines – mathematics, English, Hebrew/ Arabic and science.

The 2014/15 academic year saw mixed results when compared to the 2012/13 academic year.

Among fifth graders there was no significant change in the scores in Hebrew and mathematics, though there was a 10 point drop in English and a 14 point drop in Arabic among native speakers.

Among eighth grade pupils there was a 13 point increase in mathematics achievements and no significant change in English or Hebrew. However, there was a seven point drop in science scores and a staggering 28 point drop in Arabic among native speakers.


The findings further indicate that across all subjects and age groups, there are significant gaps in the achievements between children of high and low socioeconomic levels.

For example, eighth graders from high socioeconomic backgrounds in Hebrew-speaking schools scored 582 points in mathematics, compared to 528 points among pupils of middle socioeconomic status and 477 points among low socioeconomic status pupils. This shows a 105 point gap between rich and poor children.

In the sciences, there was a 99 point gap between eighth graders of high and low socioeconomic levels – 599 points compared to 500. In English there was a 75 point gap – 558 points compared to 483.

Among fifth graders, there were gaps between rich and poor in English (a 42 point difference), in Hebrew (53 points), and in mathematics (57 points).

Among Arabic-speaking eighth graders the results were similar – a score of 519 in mathematics among pupils of middle socioeconomic levels and 482 among children of a low socioeconomic status.

In addition to socioeconomic gaps, the results showed that Hebrew-speaking pupils, in both fifth and eighth grades, performed significantly better in English, mathematics and the sciences than Arabic- speaking pupils.

In mathematics, fifth grade Hebrew-speaking children scored 559, while Arabic- speaking pupils scored 511. Among eighth graders there was a 50 point gap, 548 points compared to 498.

Similarly in English, Hebrew-speaking children achieved better scores, receiving 530 points compared to 508 among Arab-speaking pupils in fifth grade, and 531 points compared to 476 among eighth graders.

In sciences, Hebrew-speaking pupils scored 47 points higher than their Arabic- speaking peers – 567 points compared to 520 points.

The 2014/15 exam took place between March and May among 749 schools, 2,319 classes and 58,941 pupils in fifth and eighth grades.

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