The prevailing pattern of the school system in Israel generally is elementary school grades1-6, Junior High School grades 7-9, and Senior High School grades 10-12, beginning in Hebrew from Aleph (1) to Yud-Bet (12).
Although in some areas and particularly in the religious system the pattern 1-8 (Elementary School) and 9-12 (High School) still exists. In addition, an innovative approach to starting school prompted the creation of what is known as a hativa tzaira . This is a combined kindergarten (gan hova) -first grade class, which has been adopted by many schools.
Almost all high schools have the legal status of independent, recognized schools. They are run by public bodies such as municipalities, national networks (e.g.ORT) and local committees and receive the majority of funding from the Ministry of Education. Some high schools provide a general academic education and others may be vocationally-oriented, emphasizing trades and occupations such as practical engineering, electronics, etc. or devoted to music or the arts.
Yeshiva high schools combine general or technical studies with Torah studies. There are also institutions offering day and night courses for preparation for the Bagrut (matriculation exams).
The question of quality can be answered by noting a report on education submitted by the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel. It states that many Israeli children have been admitted on the basis of their Israeli high school records and matriculation exams to every Ivy League School. In addition, many have been granted a significant amount of college credit for their Israeli high school studies, which were deemed of university quality by these institutions.
The majority of secondary schools offer academic curricula in science and the humanities which enable students to take the matriculation exams. Students choose the level at which they want to take the exam - for three, four or five units. The demands of their classes in school will reflect that choice, something parallel to a basic, honors, or advanced placement class in the U.S. In addition some schools will offer courses which will prepare students for five units in non-standard subjects such as Russian, Yiddish, drama, dance, etc. Students may choose a high school that offers five units in a topic in which they are particularly interested. The class grade is called a tziyun magen (protected grade) and it will affect a student’s final matriculation score. If the class grade is low, it will lower their final score, and if it is high, but they have tested poorly, it will act in their favor.