Report: Haredi school pupils most likely to repeat a grade

The trend has been blamed on the Education Ministry's lack of oversight.

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man walks with his children on a street in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighbourhood September 24, 2015. (photo credit: REUTERS)
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man walks with his children on a street in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighbourhood September 24, 2015.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
There is a direct correlation between Education Ministry oversight in Israeli schools and the amount of pupils who have “irregular advancement patterns,” according to a Taub Center for Social Policy study released on Tuesday.
The highest rate of “irregular advancement” was found in the haredi education sector, particularly among boys.
The study classifies “irregular patterns” as skipping or repeating a grade, being dropped down a grade or some combination of the two.
The goal of the study was “to observe these patterns and to answer educational needs for those who for various reasons did not complete a grade successfully or performed at a particularly high level and needed the challenge of a higher grade,” according to the Taub Center.
The study observed pupil trajectories from first through eighth grades throughout all sectors of Israeli public schools, including state secular, national religious, haredi and Arab.
The results were then calculated according to sector and sex.
While the rest of the school system’s results remained consistent, in the haredi system, the amount of pupils being held back jumped dramatically.
In terms of grade completion, the results show that the average time for a pupil in a state secular school is 1.015 years, 1.025 years in national religious schools, 1.029 in Arab schools and 1.05 years in haredi schools.
According to the study’s authors, Alex Weinrab and Nachum Blass, the unusually high rates of irregular progression more likely reflect a given school’s organizational and management needs rather than a student’s educational needs.
Weinrab noted a significant increase in the opening of small haredi schools throughout the country, mainly in underpopulated areas in the periphery that are, as he puts it, “involved in funny business.”
“The haredi education streams in Israel see the least amount of oversight from the Education Ministry. However, in order for these schools to receive funding, they must fill a classroom quota put forth by the ministry. One of the ways these schools achieve this is by holding pupils back a grade, but only on paper,” Weinrab told The Jerusalem Post.
The study shows that for haredi boys born in 2000, there was a 50% higher chance of being held back in a previously completed grade or repeating a grade than for those born in 1995.
Noting that this is only a trend among boys, Weinrab said: “Haredi men have a difficult time making money so instead of entering the work force, they open a school to teach Talmud. These small schools are popping up more and more, and what makes this possible is insufficient oversight from the Education Ministry, period.”
Weinrab and Blass said closer supervision of schools would prevent reporting of over-enrolled classes that require full funding when, in fact, the classes are smaller and could even reduce the minimum number of years that pupils are in the education system. Public spending on education could be reduced in this way, they added.
The study was based on Education Ministry data for all pupils born between 1994 and 2000 and enrolled in grades one through eight between 2001 and 2015. The margin of error is .05%.