More time, fewer tests: Israeli matriculation exams change due to COVID

Gallant to students: ‘your future is promised just as it was for those before you’

Yoav Gallant (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)
Yoav Gallant
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)
The Education Ministry will make additional adjustments to the format of Israel’s bagrut (matriculation) exams that have been previously adjusted to contend with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, Education Minister Yoav Gallant and Education Ministry Director-General Amit Edri announced at a press conference.
The new format is aimed at helping students succeed on these exams, despite the variety of challenges faced during the pandemic, while making sure that the exams are an accurate representation of students’ abilities.
Despite the coronavirus lockdown that will continue at least until the end of January, students in 11th and 12th grades will be allowed to attend their exams.
The most recent changes to the test format include test times being extended by 25% for all students, changes on language exams and additional test dates, which students can use to retake exams in order to improve their grades.
The “coronavirus Shaked mechanism,” a grading system that compared grades given by schools to averages from previous years, was canceled. In its place, the ministry will send staff to help train schools on how to grade matriculation exams.
Students will need to complete fewer volunteer hours as part of a national requirement in high school – some 90 hours instead of 146 – to be eligible for their bagrut examination.
Some regulations that address when a student is eligible for bagrut, despite failing one of the mandatory subjects, will be applied retroactively. Following this change, some 867 students who were not previously eligible will receive their bagrut.
Language adjustments will include reductions in material on tests for Hebrew speakers. For Druze and Arab students, adjustments will include giving students more options on tests and a change in how grading is done.
Further changes for exams in science and math will be examined and announced in the future, following requests by teachers to reassess the situation after students return to schools.
Some of the format changes will carry over to next year. Students who are currently in 11th grade will be tested on five subjects in 12th grade as well.
When asked about plans to contend with the effects of the pandemic on 10th graders, Gallant said that adjustments for their exams will be discussed in the future, but that he expects to close the gaps in the education system caused by the pandemic by the middle of next school year.
Gallant stressed that he wanted to let Israeli students know that their future is important to the Education Ministry. “I want to say to [students]: your future is promised just as it was for those before you,” he said.