Israeli students’ scores on a standardized international math test place them seventh in the world, and top in the subject in the West, figures released Tuesday by the Education Ministry show.
Israeli students across the country tested in 2011 showed comprehensive gains in math, science and reading over the previous test taken in 2007.
In math tests, Israeli students ranked seventh in the world, according to the figures, up from 24th in 2007. In science testing, Israel came in at 13th, up from 25th, and in reading Israel ranked at 18th, up from 31st.
The results were the highest international showing for Israeli students since comparisons first became available in the 1990s.
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar attributed the high rankings to the importance of education in the Jewish tradition and said that a “new organizational culture” in the educational system, including allocating extra hours for study and developing curricula based on international testing standards, was responsible for the improved results.
The ministry stressed that the improvement in rankings was shown to be the greatest among “high achievement” countries during the last five years and was felt among all strata of Israeli society, including poorer populations that traditionally score worse.
When taken alone, the results for Hebrew-speaking students were in the top 10 in all categories. The results for the Arab sector, while still showing significant improvement, were much lower: 22nd in math, 22nd in science, and 35th in reading.
“Our policy is to nurture the traditional values of Israel and to encourage excellence in education for Israeli children,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement praising the test results.