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The Education Ministry on Tuesday published findings which show a decline in math scores among middle school students.

According to the ministry's proficiency index which gauges test scores, the average math score for Israeli eighth graders in the last year stood at 44.1.

These figures are consistent with the latest rankings issued by TIMSS, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, which show that Israel has dropped five spots in comparison with the 2003 rankings.

This past year, Israel was rated 24th in mathematics (down from 19th in 2003) and 25th in science (23rd in 2003). The rankings list a total of 49 countries.

Education Ministry proficiency reports also indicate low scores in science and technology, where students posted a 56.5 average. Grades in English and Hebrew were slightly higher - 73.8 and 67.9 respectively.

The findings attest to wide gaps between students in Jewish and Arab towns as well as students of varying socioeconomic backgrounds. The grade disparities become even more pronounced as students advance in age and grade.