Weak Israeli test scores seen as ‘crisis’


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Poor scores on standardized tests "illuminate a crisis" in Israeli junior high schools, the nation’s education minister said.

Israeli students fared poorly in math and science on international and national exams.

Israel placed 24th out of 49 nations in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, five places lower than in 2003, and 25th in additional science tests, a two-place drop from 2003. The results of the tests administered to Israeli fourth- and eighth-graders were announced Tuesday.

Also Tuesday, the results of the national Meitav exams showed similar results to last year. For eighth-graders, the average math score was 44.1 percent, and for science and technology 56.5 percent. For fifth-graders, the average score for both subjects was 59.2 percent.

The series of tests to measure standards and benchmarks are given to Israeli fifth- and eighth-graders at the end of each school year.

The Education Ministry contended that the low scores were a consequence of constant strikes by educators in the junior high schools, Ynet reported.

"We don’t believe in drastic leaps but rather in measured progress," Education Minister Yuli Tamir said. "However, in the junior highs the grades illuminate a crisis. I have been saying for a while that a reform must be made in the junior high schools, otherwise we won’t be able to return the system to its proper place."

Tamir said the "toughest problem" is improving the level of teachers.

"Their professional training is our foremost priority," she said.

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