Modern-day Israel, much like the United States, may aptly be described as a test-oriented and test-consumed society. During the first few decades of its existence, Israeli society almost miraculously managed to come to grips with a multitude of pressing social problems, including helping large numbers of immigrant children to assimilate into Israeli society. This process demanded a concerted effort at raising the standards of the educational system as a whole. Standardized aptitude and intelligence tests have a particularly formidable presence in the Israeli school system. These tests are primarily employed to serve the following functions: screening and diagnosis, student selection, classification, and placement (e.g., streaming). They have also been used to identify and select children for special programs, research and program evaluation, and vocational guidance and counseling (Zeidner, 1990b). In addition, scholastic aptitude tests are employed in the Israeli university system for purposes of student selection, classification, and placement (Beller, 1992, 1993; Zeidner, 1987b).
Generally, intelligence and ability assessments have important pedagogical, social, and economic implications for social systems. Because of the heterogeneous nature of the Israeli population, hosting more than 100 linguistic subcultures, Israeli researchers have understandably been concerned with group differences in ability and achievement, and in developing equitable methods of testing. Furthermore, given that Israel is severely deficient in natural resources, policy makers have realized that the development of its human intellectual resources is not only an economic vital investment, but is perhaps the only road to Israel's survival.