Shas schools 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
There has been no deterioration in Israeli students’ academic performance over
the past 10 years, according to a new study issued this week.
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The study –
entitled “Have the Achievements of Israel’s Education System Declined in Recent
Years?” – was compiled by Nachum Blass at the Taub Center for Social Policy
Studies in Israel. Its findings run contrary to the commonly held notion that
the country’s students have been on a downward spiral academically in recent
However, the study also shows that Israeli students’ low ranking
on international scholastic tests continues to be a problem.
results came from examining the internal Israeli national exams and prominent
international tests like PISA, PIRLS and TIMSS.
Blass argued in the study
that unduly negative criticism of the Israeli education system could harm its
efforts at improvement and lead to feelings of despair.
attack on the education system and teachers leads to a lack of respect toward
them and serves those who feel that additional investments in the educational
system are a waste of resources,” he wrote.
Blass also said there had
been a significant amount of good news in the education system over the past
decade, including increases in the level of teacher education and in funding for
construction in the haredi and Arab education systems.
According to the
report, the percentage of Israeli students achieving bagrut (matriculation)
certification stood at 46 percent in 2009, as opposed to 41% in 2000. It also
showed that since 2000, the percentage of students learning in 12th grade countries has increased.
Blass also ruled that while it appeared Israel’s
rankings on the TIMSS, PISA and PIRLS tests had fallen over the past decade, the
drop could be explained by the recent addition of OECD countries whose scores
were higher than Israel’s.
When ranking Israel’s scores on the PISA test,
the study found that in 2000, Israel was in 25th place internationally; it
remained in 25th place in 2009, even as its scores increased by 14
According to the report, Israel’s performance can be improved by
“provision of greater financial resources for students from poorer families in
order to narrow educational and social gaps between them and their more affluent
peers and to improve their achievements.”
Blass said such achievements
could be reached by offering incentives that would draw higher-quality students
to teach at schools serving weaker populations, and incentives for students and
teachers to increase their performance. He also recommended that Israelis
acknowledge the system’s achievements while remaining aware of its flaws.
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