Dropout Rate: Is the Portrait of the Ministry of Education Reliable?

Each year, the Quebec Ministry of Education (MEQ) publishes a document entitled Dropout rate without a diploma or qualification. It is the percentage of secondary school students who left school without a degree, in other words, those who … check off.

It is one of the key documents used by school stakeholders, media and politicians for reporting progress or some setbacks in youth termination.

Now this official board Pupils who actually dropped out of school are not distinguished from those who completed their studies in another federal state or in their country of origin. All are considered graduates without a degree.

The MEQ itself has reservations about its own statistics in the government document.

Based in Drummondville, La Rue’L provides support for young people ages 18-35 to get back into higher education. (Archive).

Photo: Radio Canada / Ivanoh Demers

Findings: Early school leaving appears to disproportionately affect schools attended by large numbers of immigrants, such as the Center de services scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys (CSSMB) in Montreal.

While the provincial average for the 2022 edition, which covers the 2019-2020 school year, shows a slight decrease in Quebec’s dropout rate, which goes from 14.2% to 13.5%, the CSSMB, on the other hand, performed poorly with an increase of 16.1 % or 458 students.

However, the CSSMB welcomes hundreds of immigrant students every year. In 2015, for example, around 500 young Syrians visited their schools. Many families have emigrated to Ontario […]it distorts the dataregrets the director of the CSSMB, Dominic Bertrand.

Frustrated by not having a fair picture of the situation, the director and his team decided five years ago to set up their own calculation system in order to have better indicators of success and thus choose between the real ones. dropouts Students who have emigrated to another province or country.

According to the CSSMB, 458 students were considered graduates without a degree According to MEQ, 332 left the province for a readjusted total of 126 reals dropoutsi.e. less than 5%.

We have these numbers because we set up our statistics and accountability office, but it’s not the same in all school service centersargues Mr. Bertrand.

Another issue mentioned: the official table of graduates without a degree This includes teenagers who dropped out of school due to health problems or, worse, those who died.

Until we isolate those variables, but specifically the immigration variable, which is the dropout rate without a degree, it’s going to be a percentage that really isn’t validconcludes Dominic Bertrand.

Located on the premises of the organization La Piaule, La Rue’L offers young people aged 18 to 35 an alternative program to resume their secondary education. (Archive)

Photo: Radio Canada / Ivanoh Demers

Data not existent and incompletedenounces AMDES

The Marguerite Bourgeoys School Service Center is not the only one denouncing this situation.

This is also the opinion of the Montreal Association of School Principals (AMDES), whose members include the CSSMB, the Center de services scolaire de la Pointe-de-l’Île (CSSPI) and the Center de services scolaire de Montréal (CSSDM). Ministry needs to review how it collects data.

The organization adds in the same breath that the dropout rate is not the only problematic aspect.

In several files we found that the Ministry of Education does not have sufficient and reliable dataconfirms Kathleen Legault, President of AMDES.

The President gave as an example the report by the Quebec Ombudsman entitled The student firstpublished last week, deploring the lack of data on the lack of staff in the educational services for students with difficulties (special needs education, psychoeducation, speech therapy, special education, psychology).

What are the elements on which the decisions of such an important department are based if the data to justify the decisions, the priorities, are missing or incomplete? asks Kathleen Legault.

Education Minister Jean-François Roberge visits a school at the Center de services scolaire de Montréal (CSSDM) (Archives)

Photo: Radio Canada / Ivanoh Demers

The MEQ says it can’t do anything

The Department of Education claims to be technically unable and legal to change their data collection and thereby adapt their portrait of early school leavers accordingly.

The MEQ has not […] no reliable information enabling him to distinguish departures due to “exit” from those due to other causes (emigration, moving to another province, morbidity, death, etc.).says Bryan St-Louis, director of public relations.

The ministry explains that school administrations are not obliged to declare themreason to go Schools. That’s why we write the information […] is not sufficiently exhaustive and validated to be used appropriately.

A success to be enjoyed with caution

The psychologist and specialist in academic success, Égide Royer, also believes that the apparent improvement in the dropout rate from 14.2% to 13.5% was observed in the 2022 edition, relative to the 2019-2020 school year.

Given the COVID context, teachers evaluated what they had taught. There were no tests or very few ministerial tests, so this may have affected the pass rateexplains the associate professor at the Faculty of Education at the University of Laval.

Égide Royer, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education at the University of Laval, is a psychologist and specialist in academic success. (Archive)

Photo: Radio Canada

The department agrees that this trend may be partially due on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The cancellation of the unified 4th and 5th secondary level exams in June 2020 could have allowed some youngsters to obtain a diploma and thus a diploma [avoir] involved in the decline in the drop-out rate without a degreewrites Bryan St-Louis.

The office of Education Minister Jean-François Roberge declined to comment on the file.

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