To Halt Test Cheating, Education Ministry to Bypass Post Office

YERUSHALAYIM -
Students in Kiryat Sharet high school in Holon take their matriculation exams in mathematics. Photo by Yossi Zeliger/Flash90
Students in Kiryat Sharet high school in Holon take their matriculation exams in mathematics. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

Each year, a scandal erupts in the Israeli educational system over a leak that puts the answers to matriculation (bagrut) tests in the hands of students. But where do the leaks come from? Until now, the Education Ministry had proposed a number of ideas, and taken on numerous defenses to protect the tests – usually to no avail.

This year, however, the Ministry hopes things will be different – because its latest security program entails keeping tests out of the hands of the Israel Postal Service, considered a major source of leaks for tests. In the past, tests were sent to schools by the mail, with the Ministry mailing them 24 hours in advance of each test. Beginning this year, the tests will be dispatched by special messenger.

The messenger will deliver the tests directly to the principal of the school – and only the principal, in the presence of two individuals who will act as witnesses to the transfer of the documents. The new handing over process is meant to establish a clear chain of “ownership” and responsibility for the tests, ensuring that if there are any leaks anywhere along the line, their source will be easily identifiable.

Once the tests are in the possession of the principal, s/he is instructed to lock them away in a safe. The tests are removed only two hours before the test is scheduled to take place, to allow for the photocopying of question sheets. Students are to gather in classrooms not more than 45 minutes before a test is supposed to start, by which time the test should be in the hands of teachers or proctors – and, presumably, well guarded by them. In order to take a test, a student will be required to present his/her identity card (teudat zehut), after which they will be handed a test sheet.

Thus, the Ministry said, both questions and answers will be protected from prying eyes. Last year, the full set of questions in the tests for Hebrew, Math and English were leaked to schools in the Arab sector, leading to the cancellation of the tests altogether. The Ministry, officials said, is determined to put an end to the phenomenon for once and for all, officials said.