Israeli pupils ranked 7th in world for math

The ranking in math of eighth grade pupils rose strongly, and fourth graders reached second place in reading.

After years of failure and disappointment, Israeli pupils have scored major achievements in international tests. Minister of Education Gideon Sa'ar today presented the results of the 2011 tests for primary and junior high school pupils. Israeli pupils ranked seventh in the world in mathematics and second in the world in reading by Hebrew speakers. "This is a real turnaround. Israeli pupils have made a great leap forward," said Sa'ar.

The scores, published simultaneously around the world, are for the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) for eighth grade pupils and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) for fourth grade pupils in a nationwide sample. The results show that Israeli pupils rose from 24th place worldwide to 7th place in the TIMSS test. Israeli pupils reached 18th place worldwide in the PIRLS test, and Hebrew speakers tied for second place with their peers from Russia and Finland.

Sa'ar, who at the start of his term set success in the PIRLS and TIMSS as a key goal, praised the education system for the achievement. "This is a real turnaround. In these tests, Israeli pupils won their greatest achievements since Israel joined the tests in the 1990s," he said. "In all the subjects, Israeli pupils had the highest average achievement compared with all the participating countries."

A lot of hard work

"The success was not achieved with a magic wand, but by very hard work," said Sa'ar in thanking ministry staff and teachers. He said that setting the goal of success in international tests as a primary target in his term contributed to the encouraging results.

Israeli pupils reached 18th place in the 2011 PIRLS, compared with 31st place in the previous study in 2007. In the TIMSS, Israeli pupils rose from 25th place to 13th place. The two studies are held every 4-5 years, and the results compared the position of Israel's education system with its peers in 45 countries. It seems that Ministry of Education staff can now take some satisfaction, after years of criticism following past failures by Israeli pupils in the studies.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the achievement in a conversation with Sa'ar. "I wish to thank the teachers, administrators, and pupils' parents who participated in implementing the important reforms led by the government, the impressive achievements of which can be seen," said Netanyahu.

250,000 pupils in 45 countries

255,000 Grade 4 pupils worldwide participated in the 2011 PIRLS, which examines the pupils' reading and comprehension in their mother tongue. It also examines background information on students, teachers, schools, curricula, and official education policies in order to allow cross-national comparison of educational contexts that may be related to student achievement.

240,000 Grade 8 pupils from 42 countries participated in the 2011 TIMSS test, which examines pupils' mathematics and science knowledge, and the educational context of the teaching of the subjects in the different countries.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 11, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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