Study: Soviet Immigrants Outperform Israeli Students

Or Kashti
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Or Kashti

Children who immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union outperformed their Israeli-born counterparts in high-school matriculation and college admission requirements, according to a study carried out by Nir Fogel for the Central Bureau of Statistics.

The study also found that students from the western republics of the Commonwealth of Independent States outperformed those from other republics. Between 1990 and 2004, about 1.14 million people immigrated from the CIS to Israel. Although these immigrants are generally portrayed as a homogenous group, "there are considerable social, economic and cultural differences among groups of immigrants," said Fogel. For the purposes of this study, he divided them into four groups by geographic origin, "based on geographic, social and cultural considerations."

The study encompassed more than 94,000 immigrant students at all grade levels, including about 11,000 12th-graders, during the 2003-2004 school year. It was published a few weeks ago as a CBS working paper.

According to the study, 56.8 percent of Israeli-born students in the Hebrew school system were eligible for matriculation, compared to 60.2 percent among the CIS immigrants. In the latter group, the highest performance, 62.6 percent, was among pupils from the Western republics (Russia, with the exception of the Caucasus, and Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia).

Immigrants from the Asian republics (Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tadzhikistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan) were next, with 57.7 percent eligible for a matriculation certificate; followed by immigrants from Georgia and Armenia, with 50.2 percent; and from the Caucasus (Azerbaijan and southern Russia), with 41.9 percent.

The figures for university enrollment eligibility were similar, with 47.3 percent of native-born Israelis and 50.8 percent of CIS immigrants meeting admission criteria.

The study determined that 73.5 percent of CIS immigrants who came to Israel in the early 1990s were eligible for matriculation certificates, compared to only 55.5 percent among more recent (four years or less) immigrants.

Fogel points out in his paper, "The geographic distribution of the immigrant [students] is not identical to and proportionate with that of the veteran population." CIS-born students go to schools where they represent, on average, 32 percent of all students, while the average Israeli-born student goes to a school where only 9.8 percent of the student body is immigrants.