Less than half of 17-year-olds are eligible to receive a matriculation certificate, according to statistics released by the Education Ministry yesterday.
Out of the 115,100 17-year-olds, the percentage of those entitled to a matriculation certificate merely inched up in 2006/07 from the previous school year to 46.3 percent, the Education Ministry said.
The statistics show that 81.8 percent in that age group had reached the 12th grade. In 2006/07, 74.4 percent of 12th graders sat for the matriculation exams.
According to Education Minister Yuli Tamir, "principals must be backed up who have chosen to uphold the educational goal of completing 12 years of schooling over a different and popular goal - to have more and more students eligible for matriculation."
An analysis of the numbers by population subgroup reveals that in the Jewish sector (both the secular and Orthodox systems, and for the first time, the ultra-Orthodox sector) the rate of eligibility rose to 51.8 percent, around 1 percent higher than the previous year.
In the Arab and Druze sector the figures remained stable from the previous year, at 35.6 percent and 43.7 percent respectively. The rate of eligibility among Bedouin students was 31 percent, a slight improvement over the previous year.
The statistics also show that while some 2,800 more students reached the 12th grade in 2006/07 compared with the previous year, almost every fifth student drops out before this time. The differences between sectors in this regard is notable. Some 13.5 percent of Jewish 17-year-olds dropped out before they reached the 12th grade, as opposed to 18 percent in the non-Jewish sector.
During the last school year the Education Ministry changed the method for calculating eligibility for matriculation certificates to include the results of the winter exam, which gives students another chance to improve their grades and raises the general rate of eligibility.
In the Orthodox public school system, 64.3 percent of students were eligible for matriculation, compared with 62.3 percent in the non-Orthodox system.
In the ultra-Orthodox system, where relatively few students sit for the matriculation exams, the rate of eligibility was 21.7 percent.
In the college track, 62 percent of students passed matriculation, compared with 47.2 percent in the vocational track.
Among 12th-grade girls, 64.4 percent were eligible for matriculation, compared with 51.3 percent of boys. This gap has been explained by the fact that more boys drop out of school than girls.
Regarding the higher level of matriculation requirements for university entrance (at least four units of English and three units of math), some 13 percent of students who attained matriculation certificates did not do so at university-entrance level. Of all Israeli 12th graders, 40.3 percent passed the matriculation exam at a level meeting university-entrance requirements.
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