Israel is ranked 40th out of 57 countries in reading and mathematics among the youth, according to the results of the international PISA test, which gauges educational aptitude among students. This figure represents a drop of 9 places since the last test in 2002.
More than 4,500 Israeli youth participated in this year's test. Following the release of the results, Education Minister Yuli Tamir had this to say: "These statistics do not please us. This is not where we want the State of Israel to be."
Sources in the Education Ministry claimed that one of the reasons for the low results in Israel and a few other western countries is "a lack of motivation" among some students to perform well on a test that will not influence their grades.
Last week it was published that Israel was ranked 39th of 57 countries in a test measuring scientific aptitude, but the results from the PISA test are more detailed.
Finland and Hong Kong in the leadThe PISA test is administered once every three years and examines around 250 thousand 15-year-olds around the world, with 4,500 -10,000 students chosen to represent each participating country. The test is a project of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which examines the aptitude of high school students in three subjects- science, reading, and arithmetic.
In reading, South Korea led the pack, followed by Finland and Hong Kong, with Qatar and Kyrgyzstan in last place. China ranked first in mathematics, followed once again by Finland and Honk Kong with Qatar and Kyrgyzstan in last place. The results make it clear that students from elevated socio-economic backgrounds scored significantly higher than those from middle and working class backgrounds.
Serial failures for the Education Ministry
Additionally, the results indicate that Israeli students show little interest in the sciences and hardly any responsibility for the environment. For example, in responding to a certain question, students placed little importance on conducting regular emission tests on cars.
The test results pour salt on the wounds of the Education Ministry only a week after published results from two other tests indicated a low level of Israeli students in comparison with those of other countries.
In the Education Ministry's "Meitsav" exams, administered to students at the conclusion of the previous school year, students scored an average of 56.9 points in math, compared to 67 on the previous exam.
The last PISA test in which Israel participated ranked Israeli students in 33rd place out of 41 countries. In light of this low ranking, the Education Ministry decided to prepare a new learning plan for this year. In the attempt to narrow the gaps vis-à-vis other advanced countries, the ministry decided to stress the sciences and to change the structure of high school matriculation exams.