Education Min., Teachers Planning Major Reform to Matriculation Exam

The Education Ministry is planning a series of reforms, in cooperation with the Secondary School Teachers Association, relating to high-school matriculation (bagrut) exams.

Education Ministry director general Shlomit Amichai said yesterday that the proposed changes are intended to "return education to the schools, and to reduce the possibility of endless examinations."

Teacher association chairman Ran Erez said the reforms are "an attempt to deal with all the 'bugs' that have entered the education system in recent years. From a practical, ethical and even financial perspective, it's necessary to cancel the winter exams and the summer make-up exams (moedei bet)."

Education Ministry officials and teachers have expressed dissatisfaction with the winter exams since they were instituted in 2001 by then education minister Limor Livnat. Some 146,000 students have taken these exams in recent years - many in mandatory subjects such as mathematics, English, history, Bible studies and so on.

Since the end of the high-school teachers' strike last December, a series of meetings on this subject has been held between the heads of the teachers' association and senior ministry officials.

The details of the reforms are still being formulated, but so far they call for canceling the winter examinations and continuing actual classroom-teaching days until the end of the academic year, on about June 20. Under the current system, school is in session until the beginning of May in the upper grades, when the so-called "matriculation-exam season" begins.

Postponing matriculation tests until the end of June will require delaying the Israel Defense Forces' summer conscription date.

The Education Ministry is trying to determine whether to postpone all exams until after the end of the school year, or to allow some to be administered during the last week or two of classes.