A year after freezing the Meitzav standardized testing system, the Education Ministry announced it would restore the national exams starting next year, using them to evaluate schools every three years.
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Previously, the tests were given to second-, fifth- and eighth-grade pupils every two years, and internal exams devised by each school were administered in the interim.
Second-graders will henceforth undergo the Meitzav test that assess their reading levels in Hebrew, while fifth-graders will be examined in their own mother tongue, as well as in math and English. Eighth-graders will take an additional test in science.
The internal evaluation tests drawn up by individual schools, save for that used in assessing second-graders' Hebrew, will be optional in the future.
The motivation here is to encourage educational institutions to have external evaluation, to restore the Meitzav to being a measuring tool and a goal in and of itself, said ministry director-general Michal Cohen. We expect schools to use the years when the standardized tests are not administered to prepare curricula aimed at managing achievement levels, and to constantly improve.
One of the factors leading to the freeze of the system was a High Court of Justice ruling last year that obliged the ministry to publish data on the Meitzav results, which led to a comparison between schools. Ministry officials saw that comparison as problematic, and said it created an unfair hierarchy, relegating weaker groups to the bottom, embarrassing teachers and also students with low achievement levels.
The committee that recently reviewed the Meitzav overwhelmingly decided not to abolish it permanently, because of its usefulness as a means for educational assessment. However, the panel did note an imbalance, inasmuch as the more often the standardized tests were given, the more the preparation for it affected students' learning in the classroom.
Cohen, of the Education Ministry, noted that the internal school exams will be optional because they caused stress and had turned into something that was almost like the external Meitzav.