Should ministry exams be optional?

Do Quebec and English Canada hold high school diplomas equally? What about mandatory ministerial exams?

Posted at 6:30am

My two columns on the impact of standardized testing have garnered many responses, particularly from teachers, school administrators, and university researchers.

In Quebec, I wrote the Ministry of Education (MEQ) tests in 4th gradee and in the 5the Second graders make up a large portion of the final grade, while in several provinces they are optional or nonexistent, which could increase their graduation rate.

During the pandemic, the cancellation of these unique tests in Quebec left the sole responsibility for final grades to teachers, and this cancellation appears to be boosting success at certain centers and school boards, particularly English-speaking ones.

Readers’ opinions are divided. Some believe that all forms of uniform examinations should be abolished, including those at the end of secondary school that sanction study. Others instead believe they are essential.1

“The MEQ exams are not based on the needs and goals of the students, but on comparative statistics with other students. It would be best for the MEQ to leave the assessment to the teachers without counting the MEQ exams in the final grade. In this way, it would allow enormous and equitable advances in success,” writes me in particular André Lemieux, Professor of School Organization at UQAM.

University of Sherbrooke professor of education administration Guy Pelletier disagrees. “The abolition or lack of uniform examinations is mostly based on a generous understanding of education that wants to postpone forms of student selection/counselling. However, when they don’t appear during secondary school, they do appear during college and university studies. »

As an example, he gives Belgium, which does not have any secondary school leaving examinations. “In the first two years of university, we experience real carnage,” he explains.

According to him, uniform exams, despite their limitations, provide relevant information about the student’s learning status for the ministry as well as for schools and parents.

Manon Beausoleil was a teacher in Québec for 35 years and also participated in the writing of ministerial examinations. “These tests are essential to correctly assess the learning level of the students. This standardization of testing and marking encourages teachers and students to respect the requirements of the programs,” she argues.

Claude Beaulieu, a former high school principal in Quebec, believes that the problem with our educational system lies in the pedagogical system. “This regime is too rigid and undermines creativity. It does not promote learning, but rather the attainment of diploma units. That type of system doesn’t exist in Ontario, hence the better graduation rate,” he wrote to me.

Some readers don’t attribute the better grades of English-speaking students in Quebec to less strict teachers, but to the better approach of parents and the network.

“I work in education with francophones, anglophones and allophones. The increasing success of anglophones and many allophones, I believe, is largely due to parental support and the importance they place on commitment and effort. This is reflected both in the classroom and at home (study and homework) and consequently in the results,” says Louise Primeau, consultant at the Saint-Jérôme Road Transport Training Center.

For her part, Natalie Dahlstedt has been teaching “online” in secondary schools for more than seven years, well before the pandemic. “Teachers in the English-speaking community were trained to teach online as early as June 2020, well ahead of teachers in the French-speaking community,” Frau saidme Dahlstedt, who works for the organization that provided this training (LEARN Québec).

“If you leave the province of La Belle to see what’s available in online education in our beautiful Canada, you realize that Quebec is a long way behind in terms of online education for both students and teachers,” wrote she me

Law 96 and works in English

However, some are concerned about the impact of the pandemic on young people’s education, including this teacher of an English-speaking CEGEP, who wishes to remain anonymous. “My students, who have been graduating from high school since the pandemic began, tell me that they only had to be present to pass their high school French as a second language courses, which implies that it doesn’t matter if they did have done the work or not, they have passed! It increases the success rate pretty quickly! ‘ she reveals.

“With the passage of Bill 96, our DG is already looking at ways to reduce the impact of courses in French on students by discussing with the Department to allow students to submit their papers in English. We don’t want our completion rate to fall and the average scores not to fall! “, she adds.

Andrée-Anne Clermont, professor of French and literature at a large CEGEP in Montreal, doesn’t see how our system could be too demanding.

A large number of our students have very serious deficits in French and they are struggling to achieve their diploma objectives. However, what we expect from them is not exaggerated. These language gaps have an impact on her other subjects.

Andrée-Anne Clermont, Professor of French and Literature

“In fact, I often wonder how it is possible that they graduated from high school. 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 only entered college because of the suspension of ministerial exams in high school during the pandemic.” , she wrote to me .

My opinion as a columnist? These educational debates are not sterile, as some might think, but rather healthy. Together they force us to improve as long as we have conclusive data to assess the situation.

1. Reader votes have been condensed for brevity.

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