Israel - Haredi schools ordered to apply standardized tests

The Supreme Court ordered the Education Ministry on Wednesday to formulate an outline for standardized tests in the ultra-Orthodox school system and present it for court approval within 100 days.

Supreme Court President Judge Asher Grunis warned the representatives of the haredi schools that they "Should start taking things seriously, or face the consequences."

The Supreme Court's decision followed a petition made by the Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ). The court ruled that the outline must include a provision stating that schools that will fail to perform the tests will be sanctioned.

Haredi institutions are required to teach core subjects, but the IMPJ demanded that the Education Ministry hold Meitzav standardized tests in the the religious  education system and deny funds from schools that fail to do so.

Meitzav tests, which examine students' levels on core studies, can be seen as a form of supervision over the subjects' implementation in the curriculum.

In its petition, the IMPJ claimed that the Education Ministry's insistence on dialogue instead of sanctions regarding the core studies is contrary to the its duty to effectively supervise the schools and make sure all Israeli children receive an education that will allow them basic abilities as adult citizens.

Attorney Adiel Glass, representing some haredi institutions, said that the haredi schools did not want to teach core subjects, noting that in the past English was not taught to eighth graders.

"Following many threats the students were tested on the subject," he said. "We don't want to cancel religious study hours. But if push comes to shove, we'll cooperate. If it was up to us, we don't want to do it at all."

Rabbi Gilad Kariv from the IMPJ, said in response to the Supreme Court's decision: "The Supreme Court sent a clear message to the Education Ministry to stop turning a blind eye to the haredi education's conduct.

"This message must be turned into significant government action."


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