SYDNEY, Australia, Jan. 5 (JTA) — Jewish day schools in Victoria have taken the top five positions in the first-ever official listing of academic achievement in the Australian state. In a study prepared for the government by Melbourne University that was based on results in high school final examinations in 1996, Bialik College, which has a strong emphasis on the Hebrew language and Israel, topped the list. It was followed by the Modern Orthodox Mount Scopus Memorial College and Liebler-Yavneh College, and then by Beth Rivkah Ladies College and Yeshiva College. “The day schools’ performance has established that the time devoted to Jewish education has not detracted from the quality of secular education at our schools,” Diane Shteinman, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said in an interview. “Australian Jews appreciate that the focus of the day schools has been to encourage their pupils’ development as members of the Jewish and broader Australian communities, which they have achieved admirably,” she added. Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick, education chairman of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, attributed the results to “the importance of study” that “Judaism has always stressed.” Although their schools won the two top positions in the rankings, senior educators at Bialik and Mount Scopus colleges have criticized the publication of the Achievement Index, arguing that it “sends the wrong message” regarding education.