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Could Israelis take fewer matriculation exams to graduate school?

CM 07/05/2021

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A paper submitted to the Presidents’ Forum and the Rectors’ Forum across Israeli universities recommends many changes to matriculation exams (or Bagrut exams in Hebrew).The paper was co-authored by multiple highly educated individuals with an extensive backgrounds in academia, such as Dr. Ayman Agbaria from the Department of Leadership and Policy in Education at the University of Haifa and Dr. Adar Cohen – Director of the Department of Teaching Studies at The Hebrew University. “We believe that the coronavirus crisis can be exploited as an opportunity for an in-depth process aimed at redesigning learning objectives, learning methods and assessment methods in schools,” the paper said.Changes that the paper mentions include reducing the number of matriculation exams, from eight to three or four. The exams will focus on the main subjects of the school curriculum, which include math and English. Another recommendation the paper makes is changing the nature of the tests to reducing students’ need to memorize unnecessary while strengthening independent thinking. The paper also highlights creating specific assessment methods in schools in order to improve the quality of learning, as well as provide better preparation for academic studies. This would be done by creating an agreed-upon metric to be used by a variety of teachers.  Almost all high school graduates in Israel have taken the matriculation exams, but such tests encourage students to memorize information at the expense of in-depth learning, according to a press release.

Studies have shown that just memorizing information impairs students’ motivation and self-esteem, and influences their decision to continue towards higher education. Another author of the paper, Dr. Yaniv Feniger, a researcher in education policy and inequality from the Department of Education at Ben-Gurion University, said: “the need to make a substantial change in the matriculation exams and the recommendations in this document were written on the basis of a consensus we have reached,” referring to the other academics who worked on the paper.The document also recommends the establishment of a committee that will include representatives from academia and the Education Ministry that can detail appropriate actions to the pedagogical and budgetary capabilities of the Israeli education system while improving the Israeli education system.   
Source: Jerusalem Post

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