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The highest rate of pupils' passing matriculation exams last year was in Shoham - 83.45 percent. The lowest pass rate in the Jewish community was in Beitar Illit, where only 14.44 percent of the pupils matriculated.

The Education Ministry yesterday released the rates of 12th-grade pupils who passed their matriculation exams in local authorities whose population is bigger than 10,000.

The highest rate of matriculators in the non-Jewish community was in Ar'ara - 62.56 percent - and the lowest was in Jerusalem - 15.06 percent.

The national matriculation average was 50.7 percent among 17 year-olds, which was 1 percent less than the previous year. This year the Education Ministry included pass rates of pupils who took their exams in the winter. Taking the exams in winter has enabled the pupils to improve their grades, thus raising the matriculation rate fo 53.5 percent.

The highest matriculation rates in the Jewish community after Shoham were Misgav Regional Council (79.84 percent), Modi'in Maccabim-Reut (77.86 percent), Emek Yizreel Regional Countil (76.06 percent) and Mevasseret Zion (75.97 percent).

This is the third year that Shoham has lead the matriculation success.

With the exception of Mevasseret Zion, the rates in the other top four communities were also among the highest last year.

The lowest matriculation rates in the Jewish community after Beitar Illit were in Bnei Brak (26.53 percent). One of the reasons for the low rates was that only some of the pupils decide to take them, the ministry says.

In Kiryat Malachi, Acre and Kiryat Yam all the pupils are supposed to take the exams, but only 41.51 percent, 37.35 percent and 44.7 percent respectively passed them.

Here, too, there was no change compared to last year: Four of the five communities were last then as well.

The highest matriculation rate in the non-Jewish community after Ar'ara was in Maghar (60.22 percent) and Tamra (56.62 percent) and the lowest rate after Jerusalem was in Kfar Manda (31.20 percent) and Lod (34 percent).

The highest matriculation rates among Jewish pupils in the big cities were in Haifa (66.92 percent), Tel Aviv (66.68 percent) and Jerusalem (55.87 percent).

The Education Ministry has decided not to release the figures according to the previous format and have adjusted the matriculation rates from previous years accordingly.