Comparing the PISA 2012 achievements of Turkey and Israel in Mathematics and science has been an intriguing challenge. Israel was one of the first 12 countries taking part in the first International Mathematics assessment: The TIMSS 1963/4; it had the best achievements both in grade 4 and 8 (ibid). Turkey started participating in International evaluations only in 1999. Since the 1963/4 first international examinations, the Israeli situation has changed substantially by the 80ies, and not in any desirable direction. Turkey, on the other hand, has demonstrated a gradual, constant improvement in the PISA achievements – both in mathematics and science. In this study a brief comparison between these two countries will be presented regarding the achievement in the first decade of the 21st century. This article consists of three main parts: Why comparing Israel and Turkey?, Achievements comparisons between Israel and Turkey, and Why are the Israeli PISA 2012 results actually lower than reported.
This study applies discourse analysis to Israeli media coverage of national and international standardized examinations within Israel’s public education system. Through systematic analysis of the topic in the two main Israeli financial publications between the years 2000 and 2013, we explore the nature and narrative of the media and compare the coverage of national and international standardized testing. We find that most of the media attention was devoted to international examinations, while national examinations were covered in a more limited yet critical way, perceived as unnecessary and even dubious. International examinations, in contrast, were described as axiomatic components of the education system. Articles on both national and international standardized testing criticize the education system, blaming teachers, the Ministry of Education, budget constraints, and marginalized populations for Israeli students’ inadequate results. We frame our analysis by alignment of the articles along global–local and also neoliberal–humanistic axes. We structure our assessment within the global–local nexus and discuss the broader implications of the role of the testing in framing the local educational public discourse.
International surveys have served as agents of change for the introduction of reforms in curricula worldwide. The Israeli Ministry of Education set a goal of raising Israel’s ranking in international surveys so that Israel will be among the 10 leading countries in the Program for International Student Assessment and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). The Ministry of Education therefore acted to reduce the gap between the intended and the attained science curriculum by intervening on two curricular levels: the intended and the implemented. Over the years, documents that contributed to the adoption of contents and skills from the international surveys were added to the science curriculum, until the publication of the new science curriculum. The intervention was successful and in TIMSS 2011, Israel ranked 13 out of the 42 participating countries. The present research examines the influence of international surveys on science education in Israel, over the course of time (1996–2011). Analysis of documents accompanying the curriculum shows a clear message that international surveys are standards that should be used for teaching, and every additional document closes the gap between the science curriculum and the international surveys.