New Grading System Would Include High-schoolers' Effort

The Education Ministry is considering factoring high school students' effort into their final grades.

This could make up 15 to 20 percent of students' grades, said a source in a ministry committee debating the issue.

"It is widely acknowledged that students' duties must be defined much more clearly, and that these duties must be reflected in their grades," the source said.

Currently, there are two components to 10th- to 12th-graders' grades - exam scores and attendance. The committee is considering adding a factor addressing students' attitude toward schoolwork, which would include homework preparation, completing obligations such as book reports and science projects, participating in activities beyond formal lessons, effort and motivation.

"It is no accident that the Education Ministry has no definition of what is required of a student," a committee member said.

"The customary approach is that a student goes to school, but it doesn't say anywhere what is demanded of him or what the standards are. The new index is supposed to include all the components that indicate someone takes his studies seriously. We must uproot the contemptuous attitude of many students, who think they can do well in school without applying themselves. It is unacceptable that a student can flout studies all year, not do his homework, yet get a 90 on the final and be happy. From now on, the final grade will reflect not only test results but other parameters, too," she said.

"The students are not to blame," another source said. "For years the Education Ministry has conveyed to them that grades are the only thing that matters. We're trying to change that approach. This move may not result in soaring achievements, but at least it will reflect basic things that have been forgotten, like the obligation to come to school and apply oneself," he said.

The committee, headed by Yaffa Pass, director of the ministry's Secondary Education Division, has been discussing the issue with Secondary School Teachers Association chairman Ran Erez for about a year.

"We've agreed on adding the new factor to the grade calculation. Now it remains to quantify each clause accurately, but that's already a technical matter," a committee member says.

The planned change raises other questions, such as how disciplinary matters, like talking during lessons or disobedience, will be reflected in the final grade. Currently, at least officially, disciplinary problems may not be cited to reduce a grade.

Another problem is how to assess each child's "effort."