Fewer than half of all 18-year-old high school students in Israel are eligible for “Bagrut,” or matriculation, according to data presented by the Education Ministry on Wednesday.

The finding that just 48.1% of students completed their matriculation during the 2011 school year drew criticism from teachers and administrators, who called for reforms to the structure of testing.

Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar tried to put a positive spin on the data, however, noting slight increases in eligibility among (secular and national-religious) Jews and non-Jews and arguing that figures for the ultra-Orthodox sector skewed the overall picture. Among Haredi students, only 8.1% were eligible for matriculation last year — compared to 65% for other Jews and 38.2% for non-Jews.

Many students who do not complete their Bagrut in high school choose to do so afterward, usually during their military service, before applying to university.