High school students (illustrative)
High school students (illustrative) Flash 90

Schools in Israel have improved over the past several years – altogether, 98% of Israeli children now finish 12 years of study – but there are still better and worse schools. On the eve of the opening of the new academic year, the Central Bureau of Statistics released data on which cities and towns had better schools, and which didn't.

The number of students eligible to take matriculation (bagrut) tests over the past few years has been steadily rising, and in 2012 (the last year statistics were available for) over 60% of Jewish students did so. That was up from 54% in 2009. In the Arab sector, 53% of students were able to take matriculation tests in 2012, up from 50% in 2009.

The matriculation tests are required to study in Israel's seven universities (Hebrew, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Weizmann Institute, Ben Gurion, Technion, Ariel), and are also required for many college programs.

Ramat Gan is the champ in matriculation percentages; 79% of 12th graders take the tests. Ramat Gan is also the city with the highest percentage of university applicants; 74% of high school graduates are eligible for admission. Tel Aviv, Holon, and Haifa came in among the top five as well, with matriculation rates ranging from 69% to 71%.

The lowest number of college-eligible students was to be found in Bnei Brak, where only 7% of students take matriculation tests. Jerusalem, with its large hareidi and Arab population, did not fare much better; only 32% of students in the city take the tests. Jerusalem and Bnei Brak also topped the dropout rates, at 4.7% and 2.5% respectively.

Among teachers in Israeli schools, 28% had graduate degrees, with Rehovot boasting the highest percentage of teaching staff, 38%, with such degrees. The city with the lowest proportion of graduate degree holders among teaching staff was again Bnei Brak, where 18% of teachers had them.