Ex-education minister assails successor for banning test

Gideon Sa'ar took issue with Education Minister Shai Piron's decision to do away with the Meitzav standardized exams.

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar_311 (photo credit: Muki Schwartz)
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar_311
(photo credit: Muki Schwartz)
Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar blasted Education Minister Shai Piron on Wednesday for earlier this week canceling the Meitzav standardized exams.
“I am of the opinion that whatever is not measured cannot be managed,” Sa’ar, who was education minister in the last government, told Army Radio.
The interior minister accused Piron of taking learning and hard work and bringing “butterflies and fairy tales” instead, which will not bring progress.
“When we decide to cancel nationwide standardized tests that serve as the basis for the education system’s data and are used to improve schools, we are replacing a culture of measurement with one of pretending,” he added.
On Monday, the Education Ministry announced that there will be no external Meitzav achievement exams in the coming school year.
Instead, a committee of superintendents, principals and teachers will work on an alternative to the tests.
The results of external Meitzav exams are reported to the Education Ministry and are usual given every two years, while internal Meitzav test are for individual schools to use. The Meitzav achievement exam, which is used to evaluate schools, was administered to fifth- and eighth-graders at schools around the country, testing language, math and science skills.
According to Sa’ar, “no method has been invented to replace testing knowledge with exams. Even if they’re leaving the internal Meitzav and only getting rid of the external one, they’re canceling the basis that can be used to shrink gaps and increase achievements. These exams don’t give grades to students; they test the system and allow us to find strengths and weaknesses.”
The interior minister accused Piron of populism saying that people like the idea of canceling tests.
“It’s more comfortable, but it’s wrong,” Sa’ar stated. “He decided to bury his head in the sand, which can cut off improvements in the education system that we saw in international exams, [educational] Olympics and similar competitions. There was an increase in achievements.”
Sa’ar explained that he is publicly criticizing Piron because he cares about education.
“I respect the current education minister, and it is important that he believes in what he’s doing, but I think his methods are mistaken and dangerous,” he concluded.
Piron responded to Sa’ar later on Wednesday in an interview with Channel 2 News saying that the later “contributed a lot to Israeli education, but I’m the education minister now, and I have my own stances.”
The Education Ministry said he was not canceling the Meitzav, but “freezing” it.
“We’ll know what’s happening in every school,” Piron stated. “I’m not against measurements. What I’m against is the superficial culture of ‘A Star is Born.’”