Students rejoice: Say goodbye to the psychometric exam

Admission into universities will instead be based solely off of matriculation exams, taken at the end of high school.

Children at school (photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
Children at school
(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
Higher-education institutions have begun basing their admissions criteria on matriculation certificates alone, without requiring the psychometric exam, the Education Ministry announced on Tuesday.
The new criteria, which the institutions published ahead of the January 25 opening of registration, were developed as part of the Education Ministry’s “Meaningful Learning” reform, which aims to promote educational continuity from preschool through university.
The plan was developed by a joint forum of the Education Ministry, the Council for Higher Education, the Committee of University Heads, the Committee of Public Academic College Heads and the Committee of Non-Publicly Funded Academic College Heads.
“This program, for the first time, addresses the creation of continuity between the education system and higher-education institutions and will help to promote deeper learning [and] quality of teaching, and will strengthen the status of the education system,” Education Ministry director-general Michal Cohen said on Tuesday.
In October, then-education minister Shai Piron unveiled the reform for acceptance into higher-education institutions based solely on matriculation certificate achievements, without the psychometric exam.
According to Piron, the goal in the coming years was to see one in three students accepted into academic programs on that basis – accounting for some 30 percent of students in universities and some 40% of students in academic colleges.
With the disintegration of the coalition and Piron’s resignation as education minister, it remained unclear whether all universities and academic colleges would uphold the intended reforms.
However, Tuesday’s announcement paved the way for the gradual implementation of the new plan, so that beginning in the 2015/16 academic year, students will no longer require the psychometric exam to gain acceptance into colleges and universities.
“The universities acknowledge their important role in the continuity of education and expect to continue a fruitful cooperation with the Education Ministry,” said Prof.
Menahem Ben-Sasson, president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and chairman of the Committee of University Heads. “The program for admission into universities based on matriculation certificates alone is an additional step in strengthening the position of the certificates and empowering learning in school.”
As the plan takes effect, every year, each academic institution will publicize the matriculation scores it requires for admission.
Academic institutions will also use the new acceptance criteria for engineering and the sciences, in an attempt to encourage high school students to pursue higher matriculation units in the fields of English, mathematics and the sciences.
In addition to the psychometric reform, the Education Ministry announced it would begin implementing a pilot program this week to maintain the integrity of the matriculation exams.
Under the program, which was also unveiled in October, the ministry has divided participating high schools into three categories, based on the percentage of disqualified booklets from previous exams.
“Green schools” are the 10 schools where the number of disqualified booklets came to less than 1%. The ministry will “trust” the schools in this category and allow them the autonomy to appoint teachers from their own faculties to oversee the exams.
There are also some 140 “yellow schools,” where the number of disqualified booklets was between 1.1% and 3%. Matriculation exams in these schools will be conducted electronically or with the supervision of external staff that the Education Ministry will appoint.
In the third category, students in the 49 “red schools,” where the number of disqualified booklets exceeded 3%, will be required to take the matriculation exam at external testing centers. Teachers will be allowed to accompany the students to the testing centers, but will not be allowed to enter the classrooms during testing time.