Online Education

Ought to ministry exams be optionally available?

Does the high school diploma have the same value in Quebec and in English Canada? What about the mandatory ministerial examinations?

Published June 16

My two columns on the impact of standardized tests have generated a lot of backlash, especially from teachers, school principals, and university researchers.

In Quebec, as I wrote, the Ministry of Education (MEQ) tests at 4e and at 5e secondary accounts for the majority of the final grade, while in some provinces they are optional or non-existent, which can increase their graduation rate.

During the pandemic, the abolition of these unique tests in Quebec left teachers solely responsible for final grades, and the abolition appears to have resulted in improved performance at some centers and school boards, especially English-speaking ones.

Readers’ opinions are divided. Some feel that all forms of uniform tests should be eliminated, even those taken at the end of high school that sanction study. Others instead feel they are necessary.one

“MEQ exams are not based on the needs and goals of students, but on comparison statistics with other students. The best thing for MEQ would be to leave marks to teachers, not counting senior year MEQs. In this way, it would allow for enormous and fair progress, ”writes me, in particular, André Lemieux, professor of school organization UQAM.

Professor of Educational Management Guy Pelletier of the University of Sherbrooke does not share this opinion. “The abolition or absence of uniform tests is most often based on a generous concept of education, seeking to postpone forms of selection / mentoring of students. However, if they do not appear during high school, they do occur during college and university. »

He cites the example of Belgium, where there are no high school final exams. “It’s in the first two years of university that we see the real carnage,” he explains.

According to him, despite its limitations, the unified exams provide up-to-date information about the state of student learning both for the ministry, and for schools and parents.

Manon Beausoleil worked as a teacher in Quebec for 35 years, in addition to participating in writing exams for the ministry. “These tests are necessary to correctly assess the level of student learning. This standardization of exam and correction encourages teachers and students to meet program requirements,” she says.

Claude Beaulieu, a former high school principal in Quebec, believes that the problem with our education system lies in the pedagogical system. “This mode is too hard and undermines creativity. It contributes not to learning, but to obtaining diploma units. There is no such system in Ontario, hence the best graduation rate,” he wrote to me.

Some readers attribute the higher grades of English-speaking students in Quebec not to teachers being less strict, but to a better approach from parents and the network.

“I work in education with francophones, anglophones and allophones. The increased success of Anglophones and many Allophones, in my opinion, is largely due to parental support and the value they place on participation and effort. This is reflected both in the classroom and at home (study and homework) and therefore in results,” says Louise Primot, consultant at the Saint-Jerome Road Transport Training Centre.

Natalie Dahlstedt, for her part, taught “online” at a high school for more than seven years, well before the pandemic. “Teachers from the English-speaking community were trained for online learning as early as June 2020, long before teachers from the French-speaking community,” said Ms.to me Dahlstedt, who works for the organization that offered these trainings (LEARN Québec).

“When you leave the province of La Belle to see what is available in online education in our beautiful Canada, that is when you realize that Quebec is far behind in terms of online learning for both students and teachers.” she wrote to me.

Law 96 and works in English

However, some are concerned about the pandemic’s impact on youth learning, including this teacher from English-language CEGEP, who asks not to be named. “My students who have graduated from high school since the start of the pandemic tell me that in order to take French as a second language courses in high school, they only needed to be present, implying that it doesn’t matter if they did. work or not, they’re gone! This increases the chance of success pretty quickly! “, she reveals.

“With the passage of Bill 96, our CEO is already looking at ways to reduce the impact of courses in French on students by discussing with the ministry so that students can submit their papers in English. Our graduation rate must not go down and the averages must not go down! she adds.

André-Anne Clairmont, professor of French language and literature at the great Montreal CEGEP, doesn’t understand how our system can be too demanding.

A large number of our students are very severely handicapped in French and are struggling to reach their degree goals. However, what we expect from them is not excessive. These language gaps affect other subjects.

André-Anne Clermont, Professor of French Language and Literature

“I often even wonder how it is possible that they received a high school diploma. This winter, for example, I taught about a hundred students, many of whom did not have the minimum skills to succeed in college and who entered college only because of the cancellation of ministerial high school tests during the pandemic, ”she wrote to me. .

My opinion as a reviewer? These debates about education are not fruitless, whatever one may think, but quite healthy. They force us to collectively improve as long as we have solid data to judge the situation.

1. Reader reviews have been abbreviated for brevity.

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