Following Petition, Haredi Schools Ordered to Apply Standardized Tests
Following a petition by NIF grantee the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), the Supreme Court has ordered the Education Ministry to present a plan for standardized testing in the ultra-Orthodox school system for court approval within 100 days. The court also ruled that the plan must include a provision stating that schools failing to perform the tests will be sanctioned.
Ultra-Orthodox schools are already required to teach core subjects like mathematics and civics, but enforcement of the requirement is very uneven. This petition aims to ensure that standardized tests used in the Israeli secular schools measure students’ progress. IMPJ argued that these are necessary to ensuring that all Israeli children receive an education that will provide them with basic abilities as adult citizens.
In response to the decision, IMPJ's Rabbi Gilad Kariv said: "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." The importance of this petition was highlighted by the response of Attorney Adiel Glass, representing a number of Haredi institutions, who said that the Haredi schools did not want to teach core subjects. "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."
IMPJ and other NIF grantees working in the sphere of religious pluralism will be watching closely to see how the Education Ministry responds to the court’s demand, and will also be working hard to promote religious pluralism with the new government.