Today’s high-school students are tomorrow’s high-tech, science, and research professionals. Their ability to excel in math, science and English has a critical impact on the country. In the upcoming decades, Israel will experience both economic and social stagnation without this high-achieving human capital. Excellence also has a positive impact on a student’s future status: According to research conducted by the Taub Center, there is a direct link between students’ success in five-points math and earning capacity and employments opportunities.
2006-2012 showed a steady, worrying decline in the number of students who took five-point math level exams. The same period was marked with stagnation in the number of students studying physics, chemistry, and computer science. In effect, the number of graduates in the Israeli education system did not meet expectations for graduates majoring in scientific subjects, nor was it providing them with sufficient opportunities. In addition to the drop in the number of students who took exams, disparities were widening between Israel’s peripheral and central regions, and between boys and girls. This decline gave a sense of missed opportunity due to a disparity between the high number of positions available in the marketplace, and the abundance of high-quality students who were not given the opportunity to study STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
Ministry officials, under the minister’s leadership and in collaboration with the 5x2 initiative, decided to change this situation and to turn the crisis into an opportunity: they launched the national Program for the Promotion of Math and Science in Israel. The program aspires to position Israel as a leader in math and science, to bolster math education in general and five-point math level particular, to make STEM subjects accessible to all students in Israel, to improve students’ attitude towards these subjects, and to fulfill students’ potential in the periphery and among various population groups.
The MoE’s declared objectives for the program are:
- 19,700 students studying five-point1 math by 2021.
- 17% of 12th grade students will take five-point math by 2025 (versus 9.1% in 2012 and 14.3% in 2017).
- 850 schools will offer five-point math by 2025 (versus 566 schools in 2012 and 751 schools in 2017).
- 14,200 students will study five-point in physics, and 13,000 students will study five-point in chemistry by 2022.
The MoE is executing a comprehensive action plan in order to fully enact the program. To address the shortage of teachers skilled in the relevant disciplines, the Ministry is working to recruit university graduate teachers by offering scholarships and stipends, and is launching programs to expand certification for existing teachers to enable them to teach STEM subjects. In order to increase the study of STEM subjects, the Ministry is supporting and encouraging math and science students from a young age, especially in middle school. It is developing advanced math instruction programs focused on personalized teaching, and is increasing the university admissions bonus for students who completed five-point math in high school (to 35 points). In order to narrow disparities between the periphery and the center, the Ministry is broadening the conditions for opening classes in locations that do not offer a five-point track in STEM subjects, and is currently establishing a comprehensive national program to this end. Lastly, the MoE is working on streamlining the linkage between the education system, the higher education system and the job market by strengthening ties with high-tech companies and building collaborative programs to bolster students’ motivation to study STEM subjects.
- 1. The level of study of 5 points is the highest level of learning in high schools in Israel