Ultra-Orthodox and Arab communities had the lowest percentage of passing grades in Israel’s high school matriculation exam last year, according to Education Ministry statistics released Sunday.

Overall, and not so surprisingly, the figures showed, wealthier communities continued to fare better than poorer ones in 2012.

The figures, which were listed by community, showed that in 2012, the lowest percentage of matriculating students was in Modi’in Ilit. Here, there was only a 9 percent pass rate - a drop of almost 2 percent from the previous year. Modi’in Ilit is an ultra-Orthodox settlement in the West Bank whose students rarely take the bagrut.

Last year, as in previous years, ultra-Orthodox communities were at the bottom of the rankings: Bnei Brak had a 10 percent pass rate, a small drop from 2011; and Beitar Ilit had a 12.28 percent rate, a 2 percent increase from the previous year.

Arab communities were also at the bottom of the list, with places such as Jisr al-Zarqa seeing a 27.63 percent pass rate, a 10 percent drop from the previous year; and Yarka, with a 36 percent rate, seeing a 3.5 percent drop. Other towns near the bottom included Kafr Manda, Kafr Qasem, Abu Snan, and Ma’ale Iron.

The percentage of students who passed the matriculation exam among the Jewish population, however - not including the ultra-Orthodox - reached its highest level ever in 2012: 66.6 percent of the school-aged population in that school year. The pass rate was even higher for students who took the exam while still in school, and not independently - 71.2 percent.

Among non-Jewish communities, the pass rate was 42.4 percent for the age group, and 52.4 percent for those in school. This was the highest level for Arab local authorities in the past eight years.

The highest pass rate in the country was among students living in the central Israeli town of Kochav Yair - just over 90 percent. This is a 5 percent increase from last year. There are no high schools in Kochav Yair, however; all the high school students from the town study in schools in other communities.

In the second spot at the top of the listings was the central Israeli town of Shoham, with a 88 percent pass rate, a 2 percent increase on the previous year. The community that came third, the northern Israeli Druze village of Beit Jann, was a bit of a surprise to many, with 85 percent of students passing the matriculation exam. This was an impressive rise of 15 percent on the previous year.

The rest of the top ten included: Kiryat Ono, Hod Hasharon, Ra’anana, Mazkeret Batya, Givatayim, Ramat Hasharon, and Modi'in. They all had pass rates of over 80 percent.

A breakdown of the statistics according to socio-economic rankings shows that wealthier communities saw an increase of just over 2 percent from the 2011 to 2012 school year, and that the rate reached an average of about 70 percent last year. In comparison, in local authorities with lower socio-economic rankings, the pass rate was only 53.6 percent, a 2.5 percent increase on the previous year.

Places that experienced a steep drop in bagrut pass rates included the Bedouin town of Arara in the Negev in southern Israel, which saw a 10 percent drop to 44.5 percent, along with Isfiya, a Druze village on Mount Carmel, which had a 10 percent drop to 45.5 percent.