Thursday, October 10, 2013

  • Thursday, October 10, 2013
  • Elder of Ziyon
From Ha'aretz:

A little way past Carmiel, in the central Galilee, you turn northward at the Rama intersection and continue straight for several kilometers until the right turn to Beit Jann. On the edge of Mount Meron, 150 kilometers from Tel Aviv, you will find Beit Jann High School, the best secondary school in Israel. Best, that is, at least according to the conventional standard of percentage of students who graduate with a bagrut ‏(matriculation‏) certificate. The school was at the center of much media hoopla earlier this month after it emerged that the Druze town of some 11,000 residents had ranked third in the nationwide rate of high school seniors eligible for a bagrut in the 2011-12 school year.

To achieve that, the school, Beit Jann’s only high school ‏(though some young people from the town attend school elsewhere‏), underwent a veritable revolution: According to data recently received by the school, their graduating seniors in June 2013 had a bagrut eligibility rate of 100 percent. In this, it bested schools from far more well-to-do communities in the Sharon and other central regions − including private schools that have admission requirements and charge high tuition fees.

Beit Jann, one of the poorest towns in Israel, whose residents are ranked in the second-lowest decile in terms of socio-economic level by the Central Bureau of Statistics, will again be declared one of the communities offering the best education.

As recently as 1999, the bagrut eligibility rate for Beit Jann’s high school graduates was a mere 13 percent − among the country’s lowest at the time. Since then it has gone up gradually every year. Although one can graduate high school without earning a bagrut certificate, this state-awarded certification is required if a student wants to apply for university. In the 2011-12 academic year, the bagrut eligibility rate at Druze schools reached 54.8 percent, higher than the nationwide average of 49.8 percent and similar to the eligibility rate at Jewish schools ‏(55.3 percent‏).

This sea change at Druze schools was generated by the veteran teachers, who were not replaced and received no outside reinforcements. The student populations, too, were in some cases made up of the same young people who had been attending these schools for years, and who had even failed in the past. The dropout rate also fell.
It is an amazing story, worth reading in full.

Over the past few years, Israel has increased its funding of Arab and Druze schools a great deal. But in the end the most important factor in a school's success is when the administration and the community demand excellence.

The whiners are the ones who will always be left behind. And they are the ones who prefer to blame Israel for everything rather than try to solve the problem.

(h/t Yoel)

UPDATE: The Wondering Israeli points out a followup Mida article about the school. It points out that the success was not from cheating on exams, as some assumed - because the school admins discovered cheating in the late 1990s, the bagrut percentages plunged from 50% to 12% when they cracked down, and that's when the school administration decided to start the innovative program to bring the scores up.

It also points out that Beit Jann High School cannot be considered one of the top schools based only on the percentage of students passing the bagrut, because that is a minimum standard - other Israeli schools have much more advanced programs, even if they have lower bagrut scores.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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