PISA test results: Israeli pupils’ scores remain behind those of OECD countries

Testing took place in March 2012 among a representative sample of 5,055 pupils from 172 schools across the country.

December 3, 2013 19:22
2 minute read.
Miki Katz prepares for her first day of school to kita alef, 26 August 2013.

Back to school girl running 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)


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Despite improvements over the years, Israeli pupils’ scores on the PISA exam still lag behind those of students in the rest of the OECD member countries, data revealed Tuesday showed.

The Program for International Student Assessment test, which is administered to over 70 countries every three years since 2000, aims to assess education systems around the world by measuring 15- and 16-year-old students’ skills in literacy, math and science, in order to examine their readiness to enter adulthood. The exam is both printed and computerized.

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According to the National Authority for Measurement and Evaluation in Education, the PISA exam is the most important and most innovative one given today.

The data presented on Tuesday was extracted from the results of the test, which took place in March 2012 in Israel among a representative sample of 5,055 pupils from 172 schools across the country.

According to the figures, Israel’s achievement in reading is close to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average, while in other areas the gap is larger.

For the printed test, Israel ranks 40th in math, 33rd in reading and 40th in science.

For the computerized test, the country ranks 27th in math and 26th in reading.

Overall, from 2006 to 2012, Israel’s scores have increased by 24 points in math and 16 points in science. From 2002 to 2012, the reading scores have increased by 34 points.

In addition, the report showed that the rate of “excellent” students in Israel is similar to the OECD’s average. In reading, 10 percent of Israeli pupils were found to be excellent, compared to 8% on average in the rest of the OECD countries; in math the Israeli rate stands at 9%, compared to the OECD’s 12%; and in science, it stands at 6% in Israel vs. 8% in the OECD.

The rate of weaker students, on the other hand, was higher in Israel than in the rest of the OECD countries. Some 24% of Israeli students who took the exam were considered ‘weak’ in reading, compared to only 17% in the rest of the OECD. In math the Israeli rate stood at 34%, compared to 23% in the OECD.

In science, the rate was 29% in Israel and 18% in the rest of the participating countries.

Moreover, in all areas tested, Israel shows the largest range of grades in the world.

Significant gaps in achievements were recorded between students from different socioeconomic backgrounds, more specifically between Arabic speaking students and their Hebrew-speaking counterparts.

On the computerized part of the test, a gap of 92 points in favor of Hebrew speakers was recorded.

Moreover, the rate of weak students among Arabic speaking pupils was 67%, compared to only 31% for Hebrew-speakers.

Almost no excellent students were found among Arabic speakers.

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