Scores Improve, But Education Gap Widens In Israel

Among the middle-class in Israel, Arabs are outscoring Jews on tests — and it seems that the gap is only getting wider, Yarden Skop reports from Haartez. Although the disparity is growing, overall scores are improving for both groups.

The examinations in question are the Meitzav exams, a national 2012-13 standardized student assessment test. The exams serve as a general assessment to show how well students are performing academically.

“Since 2006-7, there have been cumulative improvements in all the subjects tested, for all ages. However, in 2012-13 there was a seven-point drop in the scores for mother-tongue Hebrew among fifth graders compared to the previous year, while in eighth grade the Hebrew scores remained about the same.”

The report emphasized the existence of a growing gap between the poor and the wealthy. Such a gap needs to be addressed because it signifies that the opportunities for educational excellence are not equal across the economic spectrum.

Further analysis of the results showed that the biggest improvements came from the upper and middle-classes. This was the case for both the Arab and the Jewish community.

Another finding of the report was that the economic background of the student had much more weight than their ethnicity in determining their likelihood of a successful result on the Meitzav.

“However, the figures show that a child’s economic background has more influence on his achievement then his ethnic background. When comparing Arab and Jewish pupils of similar economic backgrounds, the differences in scores narrow considerably. Among middle-class children, in fact, the scores of Arabic-speaking children were slightly higher in some subjects than those of Hebrew-speaking children.”

The education minister is working on a new funding system that will address the difference in education standards between these different demographics. Funding will be focused to the disadvantaged populations with the aim of reducing the influence of economic background on academic achievement.

“The Education Ministry said on Sunday that it is working on a new funding formula that will fundamentally distinguish between strong and weak schools, so that the weaker schools will get more. If today every school gets the same basic hours funded, the new allocation method is expected to budget additional hours for core courses in weaker schools.”

The distress signal is what is being used to measure the need for money at a particular school and it will be used to mete out the funding accordingly.