French writing in freefall in Montreal
The pass rate for the end of high school exam is in freefall in Montreal compared to 2019 figures.
Success rates for the Secondary 5 written French exam are plummeting everywhere in Quebec compared to 2019 figures, especially in Montreal, where several school service centers have a rate of less than 60%. This ministerial exam, held at the end of each school year, had been canceled for two years due to the pandemic, and resumed last year.
According to figures from the Ministry of Education, 59.1% of students at the Marguerite-Bourgeoys school service center obtained a passing grade last June, while 72.9% passed the exam in 2019. For the center of Montreal school services, 58.6% passed the exam, compared to 2019 figures of 68.5%, reports La Presse.
The pandemic and the failure
“I am surprised and troubled by the magnitude of these results, admits the professor in the department of didactics at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM), Isabelle Plante. We had anticipated a scenario less worse than this. There are always students who fail, yes, but we are talking here about a 15-20% increase in failure in certain schools in Quebec. The pandemic has undeniably played a role in the success rate.”
Two factors have inflated the figures for 2022 according to her: students at risk of failure (with averages between 60 and 69%) in writing have tipped into failure due to the lack of supervision and stimulation and less transmission effective skills as a consequence of the limitations imposed by homeschooling.
“I think it will take more intense solutions than what we see at the moment, and this in all subjects beyond writing. There are always upgrades at the start of the school year usually, but with the pandemic, each return to school has not made it possible to consolidate the achievements well. We will have to apply intensive upgrades both in secondary and college, where teachers have already expressed concern on several occasions about the level of French of the young people admitted.
Shorten the summer holidays ?
Ms. Plante wants us to review the school calendar, which she says is no longer adapted to current needs. She proposes to reduce the number of weeks off during the summer holidays in order to distribute them more equitably during the school year, so that young people lose less of the pace of school learning.
“Weaker students lose more in the summer, and after school, they have had what is called “summer losses” equivalent to one school year. I have often recommended a school calendar in the spirit of distributing holiday weeks, adding a week at Easter and in October for example, and delaying the summer holidays, so that pupils lose less knowledge and skills. /p>
When speaking to Radio-Canada, the former Minister of Education and now Minister of the French language, Jean-François Roberge, said he was “worried” about the results and affirmed that this portrait “is unfortunately not very surprising” given the risks caused by the pandemic and the health measures imposing online school.
The Cabinet of the Ministry of Education has still not responded to our requests for comment on the subject.