Photo Credit: Omrihayu via Wikimedia
Israeli student taking a Matriculation exam, February, 2017

The religious girls’ public schools Kfar Pines, in Menashe Regional Council (east of Hadera), and Even Shmuel, in Shafir, a moshav in southern Israel, top the index of matriculation eligibility in secondary schools in Israel for the 2016-17 school year with 100% of the graduates passing. The index is part of a report published by the Education Ministry on Tuesday on its new website, “Transparency in Education.”

These two institutions indicate a clear trend in Israel’s education scene, as no less than six high schools for religious-Zionist girls stand at the top of the ranking for all high schools in the country based on the matriculation eligibility index.

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The high schools at the bottom of the list in terms of their students’ eligibility for a matriculation certificate include eight Arab and two Haredi institutions.

The Israeli Matriculation Examination is a national-governmental set of tests conducted by the Ministry of Education, intended primarily to assess the knowledge of high school graduates in various subjects. A student who successfully fulfills the conditions of eligibility for a matriculation certificate in terms of their grades in these examinations receives a matriculation certificate from the Ministry of Education.

The exams cover 25 mandatory and about 100 elective subjects, at different levels of difficulty, up to 5 units. Used as Israel’s equivalence of the SATs, matriculation grades are the most common measure of admission to undergraduate studies, and are also common as a measure of some of the academic tracks that bypass matriculation certificates.

According to the Education Ministry’s website, an increase was recorded in the number of students entitled to an outstanding matriculation certificate, as well as in the proportion of students with matriculation certificates which include 5 units in mathematics. An increase was also recorded in the number of students with matriculation certificates with 5 English units.

There is one disturbing note in the ministry’s report: since standardized testing always pose the risk of students “learning for the test,” rather than out of a genuine intellectual curiosity, the Ministry of Education declared that it will be looking into students’ “marked decrease that was recorded in the curiosity and learning interest index from 54% to 51%.”

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