Psychometric Exam: Barrier to University Entrance for Arab Citizens of Israel
Arab-Palestinian citizens in Israel are at a disadvantage in gaining acceptance to Israeli universities due to the biased nature of the psychometric exam. Dirasat calls for immediate cancellation of the exam. In absence of this step, other means should be used to enable Arab students to compete fairly with their Jewish peers.
March 2010, Nazareth: The psychometric exam in Israel is a requirement for all young people wishing to study in universities. However, it an inaccurate predictor of success of applicants from poor socio-economic backgrounds (Yogav and Ayalon, 2000) as the text contains inherent cultural biases. Arab-Palestinian Israelis are at a particular disadvantage for three critical reasons: nationality, social status and gender. Statistical analysis reveals a consistent gap of 100 points between examinees who take the test in Hebrew vs in Arabic. Critically, scores on the psychometric exam represent the main obstruction in acceptance for young Arabs with the desire and ability to study in universities in Israel.
To address this issue, Dirasat, in cooperation with the Follow Up Committee on Arab Education conducted the most comprehensive study on this matter to date. Research findings were complimented by two study days held in 2008, in which participants discussed the findings as summarized here:
∑ Research revealed that, despite university claims to the contrary, the exam is not an accurate predictor of a studentís success.
∑ Despite improvements in the quality and quantity of Arab education over the past decade, the average difference in scores between Arab and Jewish students remains stable at 100 points. Thus, poorer performance can only be attributed to cultural biases within the test itself and in its implementation.
∑ Finally, exam supporters attribute achievement gaps to deficiencies in Arab primary and secondary education yet they are not acting to change this situation or modify their expectations of examinees in accordance with this conclusion.
Despite alternative criteria used to evaluate university applicants in other countries, Israel refuses to change the emphasis it places on psychometric exams and they remain a primary factor in university acceptance.
In light of the findings above, and the problematic nature of the exam in its current form, Dirasat recommends immediate cancellation of the psychometric exam. In absence of this, several steps may be taken to mitigate its disproportionately negative impact on Arab students including:
Establishment of a professional forum tasked with examining and changing preparation methodology to better support Arab student success.
Inclusion of exam preparation in Arab high school curriculum.
Initiation of advocacy activities on the national level, and through the media, to garner public involvement and lawmaker action.
Establishment of alternative testing centers in Arab colleges located in Arab-Palestinian localities.
The inclusion of Arab-Palestinian professionals in writing and managing the exam in order to overcome cultural bias.
Attached you will find summaries in Hebrew and English of the report and its findings. For the English Summary of the Report:http://www.dirasat-aclp.org/files/Psy-English-Summary-2010.pdf
.......... For the Hebrew Summary of the Report:http://www.dirasat-aclp.org/files/Psy-Hebrew-Summary-2010.pdf
For the full Report:http://dirasat-aclp.org/arabic/files/Psychometr.pdf