Education Minister Riles Teachers with Matriculation Reforms

On Tuesday, Yifat Shasha-Biton, the Education Minister in Israel, presented a reform planned for high school matriculation. The reform would replace some testing with new methods of work, study and evaluation. Once the changes are implemented, written exams for biblical studies, civics, literature and history will be canceled and multidisciplinary work and class projects will replace them. Every school will grade them internally and an external assessment will also be conducted. For every subject, teachers will select projects from which 10th and 11th grade students will have to choose. A range of new formats and materials have also been added to bagrut, which is work for matriculation. 

The students will also prepare for oral presentations and individual projects. An external examiner will assess matriculation projects of twelfth-graders. The overall final mark granted to these students would include the external assessment as well as the own grading of the school equally. The external grade will be given on a project’s frontal presentation and written work. As far as other subjects like English, mathematics, science and language are concerned, their tests will be conducted as usual i.e. written tests that are set externally. The implementation of the new program will begin next year for 10th graders.

The Education Minister said that since the world appears to be changing rapidly, it is essential to adapt study methods in matriculation as well. She said that their aim was to provide students with tools that would help them in their professional, personal and academic futures. She added that this would ensure an in-depth and relevant learning experience that will be engraved in the mind of students for years. But, the Israel Teachers Union said that because the Finance Ministry had some objections, they had not come to an agreement regarding the changes with the Education Ministry.

The union said that the Treasury was not in favor of the changes because of the harm caused by the reforms to the teaching public and humanities subjects. The Education Minister said that she understood the concern of the teachers about the impact on their wages because of the reforms, but said that their earnings and employment would not be negatively affected. The minister added in a statement that she was confident of the union’s support of the changes, once they get it down in writing. A student’s future can be significantly impacted due to matriculation exams. Their scores are an important criteria in the applications submitted to elite academic institutions and military units.

Students receive the bagrut certificate if they are able to achieve a 56% mark in the required examinations or more in every area of study. Since Shasha-Biton was appointed as the Education Minister back in June 2021, she has made a number of systemic changes and the bagruyot reform is one of them. The minister announced in January that they would give more financial autonomy to school principals. Depending on the socioeconomic status and size of the school, every principal would receive a budget of NIS 250,000 and NIS 1 million to enable them to pursue their educational goals. 

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