failures on the rise

The return of ministerial exams in June weighed on secondary school students, with more enrolling in summer courses and supplementary exams at several school service centers. At provincial level, the number of repetitions of French exams is increasing.

The compilation of the results for the ministerial exams in June is not yet available from the Ministry of Education. However, its spokesperson Esther Chouinard points out that there has been a “slight increase” in registrations for the repeat examinations in French as the language of instruction and French as a second language.

For all subjects, however, the number of students registered for the retake examinations at the end of July is “comparable to previous years,” adds Chouinard.

However, the portrait varies by school service center based on data obtained from The newspaper with about fifteen of them. Registrations for summer courses and supplementary examinations have increased in most of the service centers.

The Pandemic

This is especially true for the Polyvalente La Samare in Plessisville. “The failure rate is higher than in previous years. We were able to see a difference between before and after the pandemic, ”says its director Danielle Béliveau.

The ministry exams took place again this year after a two-year absence.

“I think teenagers have been hit the hardest by the pandemic. They lack maturity and motivation because they are afraid of the future. They find it difficult to project themselves because they know it might not happen,” adds Beliveau.

Record of registrations

The failure rate is also higher this year at Mont Sainte-Anne High School in Beaupré, near Quebec City.

“At the service center level, we have never had so many registrations for summer courses,” says director Luc Paquet. “The more we return to normal, the more we realize that there are young people who lack knowledge. And the Ministry’s scrutiny is more open, shall we say,” he interjects.

Context is also important, adds deputy director Jean-François Lanoue. In the past two years, teachers have diversified their assessment methods and students have done fewer “classic assessments,” he says.

“Were the students more stressed? Maybe. Were they less drilled than before for the ministry exams? Maybe. But it can’t just be a lack of skills,” he interjects.

In addition to the lowering of grades by the Ministry, which caused students who had performed well throughout the school year to fail, the results of the Ministry’s tests were also reported this summer with a one-week delay.

Some have not been able to register for summer courses or supplementary exams because they learned too late they were failing, adds Mr Lanoue.

Plea for a revised and corrected bulletin

As the start of the new school year approaches, school leaders are calling for a thorough reflection on student assessment in order to produce a new, revised and corrected report card.

The pandemic has led to changes in student assessment over the past two years, which will come into effect again this year.

The number of reports has fallen from three to two per school year, while ministerial examinations at the end of secondary school now account for 20% of the student’s final grade instead of 50%.

Education Minister Jean-François Roberge has already announced that this year he will be consulting the school network stakeholders on the subject to see if these changes will last.

However, school leaders are calling for nothing less than a “states general” to take stock of the situation.

Everything needs to be put on the table, says Nicolas Prévost, president of the Quebec Federation of School Directors (FQDE), which represents the majority of school leaders in the province.

“We really want to address fundamental issues, throughout the assessment,” he says.

The encrypted bulletin questioned

According to the FQDE, the number of reports, the form and the aim of the evaluations as well as the communication with the parents must be discussed.

“There is so little information circulating between the networks and parents, it’s a very big weakness,” affirmed the President.

Even the presence of numbers in the report card, especially at the elementary level, must be questioned so that the report card is not a ‘performance tool’, indicates Mr Prévost.

For the FQDE, student assessment is linked to academic success as it causes stress and anxiety in students.

In other Canadian provinces, numbered grades have long since disappeared from the report card. In British Columbia, digital portfolios without letters or percentages have even replaced traditional bulletins for a number of years.

Over the years, several actors in the educational network have called for exams to be reconsidered, particularly in primary education, where many teachers find them too numerous.

At the Federation of Parents’ Committees of Quebec, we agree with the recommendations of the Superior Council of Education, who in 2019 proposed revising the Bulletin from top to bottom to make it a learning tool and specifically not an assessment by the group average disappears.


summer courses*

First Seigneuries School Service Center (Quebec):

  • Summer 2022: 153
  • Summer 2021: 129

Service Center of the Grandes Seigneuries School (Montérégie):

  • Summer 2022: 266 students
  • Summer 2021: 171 students

Beauce-Etchemin School Service Centre**:

  • Summer 2022: 117 students
  • Summer 2021: 74 students

*Only compartments of 4e and 5e Secondary level covered by ministerial tests

**These data concern only students of the CSS Beauce-Etchemin, which also offers online courses for other students who do not come from this service center.

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