Education Ministry Seeks to Grade Secondary School Students on Behavior

The ministry committee is addressing how to quantify students' behavior, since no standard exists.

Secondary school students should be graded on their behavior, the Education Ministry's internal committee recommended this weekend.

It had deliberated the matter for several weeks, ultimately deciding that the behavior factor should comprise 15 to 20 percent of the final grade appearing on students' annual report cards and matriculation certificates.

The recommendations obtained by Haaretz call for teachers to give students in grades 7 through 11 two grades for all subjects - one for academic achievement, and another for behavior. The final report card will have a final grade for behavior, calculated as the average of the behavioral grades for each subject, as well as a grade for the student's behavior outside the classroom.

The committee is addressing how to quantify students' behavior, since no standard currently exists, and proposed that each educational institution have a pedagogical committee form its own grading scale.

This recommendation is an effort to "preserve unity between teachers," the committee wrote. Currently, "behavioral grades are sometimes given without clear and uniform criteria, and usually as general, verbal estimates."

Students' "use of violent and offensive language," as well as "keeping their surroundings clean, manners and willingness to help their classmates," must be monitored, the committee said.

Absences will not be included in behavioral grades, but will remain part of the achievement grade.

"Attendence is part of the learning process, and will therefore be taken into account when granting academic achievement marks," the document stated.

A senior Education Ministry official said this weekend, "Without a clear definition of a student's responsibilities - such as consistent attendance, a serious approach to studies and appropriate behavior - it is impossible to attain the necessary discipline to instill real, lasting education."

Nonetheless, some senior educational figures have criticized the proposed reforms. "The 'behavioral grading ladder' recommended by the committee must be drafted with the cooperation of the school's student council or parents. Instead of creating a dialogue, the Education Ministry prefers to dictate orders," said the principal of a Jerusalem high school.

The Education Ministry said in response, "The issue is being handled by professionals. Once the recommendations are drafted, they will be presented for the authorization of [Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar] and the director general, and the ministry will publish its decision."