The Education Ministry of Israel has revealed that the number of students passing their Bagrut matriculation exam is continually increasing. Five in ten (52.7%) Year 12 students passed their matriculation exam in 2013-2014, and the percentage goes to 65.5% if retakers up to the age of 18 are taken into consideration. The previous school year, 64.2% of students passed the exam.
"Improving matriculation scores is not just a pedagogical task – it is a national task, tomorrow's economy is today's high school matriculation diploma," Education Minister Naftali Bennett said.
A total of 75.1% of Jewish high school students took the matriculation exam during the previous school year. The number of ultra-Orthodox students taking the exam was 4,788. In total, almost 3 in 10 Bagrut matriculation exam students were ultra-Orthodox.
Over 21,000 non-Jewish students took the exam, of which 13,448 students successfully passed it. In terms of gender, girls' success on the matriculation exam was higher than that of boys. Out of 54,099 high school girls, almost nine in ten took the exam and had a success rate of 68.7%, or 37,183, for 20013-2014. The success rate for boys was 61.8% — a total of 6.9 percentage points less than for girls. In 2013-2014, 29,065 boys received their matriculation diploma.
The figures also show that new immigrants to the country have a high rate of matriculation success. Six in 10 immigrants who took the exam matriculated in 2014.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett called for more diversity in education:
"Academia must see more of a variety of populations at its gates, this is right for the students, it is also right for academia, and it is right for the country,"
The minister says that more Israelis must graduate school and pass their Bagrut:
"Our first task is to increase the percentage of those who matriculate, alongside improving the quality of the matriculation certificate and increasing the number of students taking the five point exam in mathematics" the education minister highlighted.
He also mentioned that one of the Ministry's priorities is to make individuals understand that education is not limited by geography, and that if students have the motivation they can get access to education. Reducing the gap between the periphery and the center of the nation is among the education goals the Ministry has discussed.
The Bagrut matriculation exam is a twelfth grade examination students take in Israel in order to graduate. Due to the high failure rate of the exam, many students retake it the following year.
The number of students opting to take a five-unit math exam as part of their matriculation exam has dropped 30% in six years in the period between 2006 and 2012. As Haaretz points out, today about one in ten Israeli high school students take the difficult math exam.
The exam has become less popular not because students' math abilities have waned, but because schools increasingly encourage students to take easier exams, students and their families do not want to invest the effort necessary, and a the lack of incentive provided by universities, Haaretz reports.