At the start of his mandate, while touring schools, Bernard Drainville complained that school service centers did not all transfer their data in the same way to Quebec. Consequence: the Minister of Education is struggling to properly assess the state of his network, when he sets the objective of increasing the secondary school graduation and qualification rate from 84% to 90%.

To achieve this new target, Bernard Drainville has promised to establish a “dashboard”, like the one set up by his colleague Christian Dubé in health, which will measure the state of Quebec schools. In its latest budget, Quebec has also reserved more than 240 million by 2027-2028 to “support access to data” and “increase the efficiency of the network and the Ministry of Education”.

To lay the foundations of this vast project, La Presse brought together for a long interview three experts in the field of school perseverance:

Their first observation: if the Quebec school is doing well, Quebec faces great challenges to help even more students with special needs and boys in general.

“When we look at the major international surveys, Quebec is positioned relatively well. Where it goes less well is when we look at school perseverance, especially that of boys. There, we can do better. Much better,” said Frédéric Guay at the opening of the roundtable.

The Laval University specialist recalled that “boys graduate in a lower proportion than girls after seven years, i.e. 77.6% for boys and 86.8% for girls”, which may “be explained by greater attractiveness to the labor market”. To date, Mr. Guay said, boys without a high school diploma are even more likely than girls without a diploma to find a job that pays better.

Julien Prud’homme went further on what “distinguishes us” from other societies: our difficulties in reducing inequalities in academic success. “For that, it would take measures that cast a fairly wide net,” he pleaded.

But beware of those who believe that a single factor, or the monitoring of an indicator on a “dashboard”, will allow Quebec to improve the state of academic success. “You have to identify the needs and the impact of the measures based on concrete indicators,” said Mr. Prud’homme.

With a multi-tiered education system, between the so-called regular public school, the public school offering special educational programs (which the government moreover wants to multiply) and the subsidized private school, “the ordinary class does not is no longer a regular class, but a class with a growing proportion of young people who have greater needs and teachers who have access to limited resources to help them,” recalled Ms. Archambault.

According to Frédéric Guay, the education network clearly has “a serious lack of resources” and teachers lack the time to complete their tasks.

“If they are responsible for 4 to 6 groups of 28 different students in high school [and they] also have to give individual feedback to several students outside of school hours, it doesn’t work. They already do it on their lunch breaks and in the evenings after school,” he said.

The dashboard that Minister Drainville wants to establish must therefore target the schools where the needs are most urgent, but above all the appropriate resources to help them. We must therefore avoid the all-out approach, said Isabelle Archambault.

“If we really want what we put in place to bring about change, we need to put the investments in the places where it will have the most impact. And where we will have the greatest impact, it is by offering opportunities for educational support or enrichment, such as concentrations in science and technology, sports, arts or extracurricular activities, first in the most disadvantaged where young people do not always have access to it,” she said.

The results of the PISA 2018 study, the OECD survey under the Program for International Student Assessment, show that Quebec leads the pack when it comes to measuring achievement in reading, mathematics and in science compared to other Canadian provinces, but also on the international scene. Frédéric Guay affirms that data should also be collected from primary school onwards, in order to have indicators that would make it possible to measure the needs of children earlier, without waiting for the results from international surveys.

“Sometimes you can get information by asking few questions. One of my doctoral students validated a reading comprehension test at the beginning of the elementary school year that takes three minutes to complete and predicts success on the final ministry exam. There are ways to redesign assessment so that it is not too demanding on teachers and does not require too much correction,” he added.

But be careful, added Professor Guay: “We evaluate to help students, not to sort out the chaff from the grain. »

“So there is a perverse effect of introducing too much competition into a system and using grades to drive up that competition between schools and between students,” he said.

“At the moment, we are very much in a logic of success and failure, but the big stake, in fact, are the young people who are on the line. You can be 62% pass and 58% fail, but either way you need help,” said Isabelle Archambault.

“We are still in a society and at a time where children are sufficiently supported, supervised and valued. It would be important to highlight that. […] The nuance in all this is that we could do better with children who have special needs, but for that, we must give ourselves the means, ”she said.

“The school is benevolent and the intentions are benevolent. What worries me is that we are shoveling more and more into the backyard of teachers. We expect more from them when the services are not there to support them,” concluded Julien Prud’homme.

In its latest annual report, the Ministère de l’Éducation takes stock of its successes and failures in relation to the targets it has set for itself. Here’s some of the most up-to-date data that may be in Bernard Drainville’s next dashboard.

“This weak progress could be explained by the fact that the overall improvement in the graduation and qualification rate by cohort after seven years is not easy and is mainly based on the success of the categories of students most in difficulty. Increased efforts will be needed to ensure the school perseverance and educational success of these groups, particularly because they may have been the most negatively affected during the pandemic. »

“The lower graduation rate among boys than among girls can be partially explained by the economic attractiveness of the labor market. This represents, particularly for this group of students considered fragile with regard to graduation, a factor likely to encourage them to interrupt their studies before obtaining a diploma or qualification. Increased efforts are needed to promote school perseverance and success for all students, especially boys, especially when they present other forms of vulnerability or difficulties that could hinder their success. »

“The temporary closure of schools and the multiple impacts of the pandemic may have aggravated the vulnerabilities that some ADHD students present and impact the achievement of targets set for future years. »