Since 2011, the Ministry of Education has been running the "Scientific-Technological Reserves" program (hereinafter "the Reserves program") in part of the middle and high schools with the aim of raising the rate of those taking the 5-unit matriculation exams in mathematics and two other scientific-technological subjects (hereinafter the reserves subjects aggregate).  Since 2015, it has also been running the "Give Five" program in high schools to strengthen mathematics studies at the 5-unit level.

This study examined the effect of the programs on the probability of taking matriculation exams in these subjects, and their results, as well as the probability of Arab high school graduates beginning to study scientific subjects in institutes of higher education.  The estimations were based on a variety of administrative data, and were conducted using the difference-in-differences method.

Until 2017, the Reserves program led to an increase of 4–5 percentage points in the rate of students taking the 5-unit test in mathematics and in the Reserves subjects aggregate in schools where the Reserves program was implemented, compared with students in schools that did not participate in either program.  (Prior to the programs, 13 percent of students in the Reserves schools took the 5-unit test in mathematics, and 8 percent took the 5-unit tests in the Reserve subjects aggregate.)  The effect on female students was 1–2 percentage points higher than on male students, as was the effect on those whose scores were higher than average on the Meitzav mathematics test in 8th grade.  The "Give Five" program increased the rate of those taking the 5-unit test in mathematics by almost 3 percentage points (the rate prior to the program was 14 percent), and had an effect only on male students.  The increase in the rate of those taking the 5-unit test in mathematics thanks to the programs was not accompanied by a noticeable decline in the rate of those passing the tests or in their scores. 

The Reserves program increased the probability of graduates from the Arab school system starting Bachelor's studies in sciences (up to 2018) by an order of 2 percentage points (compared with 5 percent prior to the program), and the probability of studying high-tech subjects by about 1 percentage point (compared with 4 percent). In both cases, the effect was only on those with higher-than-average scores on the Meitzav tests.  It is currently impossible to examine the issue regarding the "Give Five" program, or among graduates of the Jewish school system.​


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