Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Israeli Arab students score higher in tests than those from every Arab country

From JPost:
Israeli students from all sectors of society registered dramatic increases in test scores in all subjects, the Education Ministry announced Tuesday.

According to an Education Ministry summary of 2011 test scores, Israeli students registered their highest scores on international tests since they started being recorded in the late 1990s.

Hebrew speakers ranked in the top-10 in the world in all subjects, while all socio-economic sectors registered increases in test scores. Arabic-speakers, while still lagging behind their Hebrew-speaking counterparts, also scored higher than in previous years in mathematics, sciences and reading comprehension.

In mathematics, Israel catapulted from 24th place in 2007 to 7th place in 2011, while achieving impressive scores in sciences and reading.
Arab media, predictably, is emphasizing the gap between Hebrew-speaking and Arabic-speaking students, saying that this shows that the Israeli education system favors Jews over Arabs.

This is indeed a concern, and one that Israel seems to be taking seriously - if not, why did the Arabic-speaking students improve as well?

But looking at the actual scores from the Arabic-speaking students alone shows another fact: Across the board, Israeli Arabs scored higher than their counterparts in Arab countries.

In reading, fourth grade Israeli Arabs scored 479 (vs. 568 for Hebrew-speakers.) But no Arab country scored higher - UAE 439, Saudi Arabia 430, Qatar 425, Oman 391.

In science, eighth grade Israeli Arabs scored 481 (520 for Hebrew speakers.) Compare to UAE 465, Bahrain 452, Jordan 449, Morocco 376 - and the PA with 420.

In math, eighth grade Israeli Arabs scored 465 (vs. 536 for Hebrew speakers.) Compare that to UAE 456, Lebanon 449, Morocco 391, Oman 366 - and the PA with 404.

So yes, there is a gap within Israel, and one that the Education Ministry is addressing. But isn't it interesting that Arabs are more upset over the gap within Israel and don't care at all about the gap between Arabs in Israel and the abysmal performance by Arabs outside Israel?

When you live in a society where blaming others is more important than improving yourselves, one can expect both this type of reaction and many more decades of poor scores by students in Arab countries.

After all, can you imagine an initiative in Arab countries to copy the Israeli educational model and curricula in order to improve their own scores?

(h/t Yoel)