Religious High Schools Overrepresented in Ministry Ranking

Education Ministry hands out bonuses to teachers at Israel's 208 most improved secondary schools.

Yarden Skop
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Education Minister Shay Piron, right, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the top two winners of the 2014 Bible quiz.Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO
Yarden Skop

Religious Zionist schools were overrepresented among the country’s 208 most improved secondary schools, though not to the same extent as last year, according to an Education Ministry ranking released yesterday.

More than one-third of the schools on the list combine Torah study with the study of standard academic subjects, though roughly 20 percent of the total number of students are religious Zionist.

The ranking is part of the Oz Letmurah education reform program from 2011, as part of which the staff of the schools that made the list will receive a differential bonus of between 3,000 shekels ($833) and 8,000 shekels ($2,222) this month, for a total of an estimated 50 million shekels across the country.

The objective is to reward schools for improvement, not high achievement, the Education Ministry says.

“The criteria for receiving the award are not aimed at schools with higher levels of achievement, but rather at schools that have created the most significant change among the pupils,” the ministry said in a statement. “The differential award is calculated according to the percent of improvement of the school as compared with the previous year. Emphasis is placed on the change, not on the final grade.”

The criteria for making the list includes a low dropout rate; excellence in the humanities, math and science; integrity in testing; and a high rate of students who move on to military service or national service. Schools that mainstream special-education students also get credit in the rankings.

Last year nearly half the schools receiving the bonuses were religious Zionist. The Amit Kfar Ganim Yeshiva in Petah Tikva, where Education Minister Shay Piron was the principal until he went into politics, was on the list, as it was last year.

Just 32 of the schools receiving the bonuses, or 15 percent, are part of the Arab education system, including Muslim, Christian, Druze and Bedouin schools.

Some of the schools on the list charge tuition that in some cases exceeds 1,000 shekels a month, such as the Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts in Givatayim, the Hebrew Reali School in Haifa and the Ruth Z. Korman Pelech High School for Girls in Kiryat Ekron.

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