Dropout: is the portrait of the Ministry of Education reliable?

Every year, the Quebec Ministry of Education (MEQ) publishes a document entitled: Exit percentage without diploma or qualification† It is the percentage of high school students who leave school without a diploma, in other words those who… off the hook

It is one of the most important documents used by school stakeholders, the media and politicians to report on receivables or so setbacks when young people drop out.

now this official board makes no distinction between students who actually dropped out of school and students who completed their studies in another province or in their country of origin. All are considered leave without a diploma

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

The organization La Rue’L, based in Drummondville, offers support to young people aged 18 to 35 to resume their secondary education. (Archive).

Photo: Radio-Canada / Ivanoh Demers

Result: School dropout seems to have a disproportionate impact on schools frequented by many immigrants, such as the Center de services scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys (CSSMB) in Montreal.

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

However, the CSSMB welcomes hundreds of students with an immigrant background year after year. For example, in 2015, about 500 young Syrians attended his schools. There are many families who have moved to Ontario […]it distorts the dataregrets the director of the CSSMB, Dominic Bertrand.

Frustrated at not having a fair picture of the situation, the director and his team decided five years ago to set up their own calculation system to have better indicators of success and to be able to choose between the real ones. drop outs students who have emigrated to another province or country.

According to the CSSMB, of the 458 students considered, leave without a diploma by the MEQ, 332 left the province for an adjusted total of 126 real drop outsie less than 5%.

We have these numbers because we set up our Bureau of Statistics and Accounts, but it is not the same in all school service centersargues Mr Bertrand.

Another problem called: the official table of leave without a diploma also includes teens who dropped out of school due to health problems, or, more sadly, those who died.

As long as we haven’t isolated these variables, but especially the immigration variable, well, the percentage of leaving without a degree, it will be a percentage that is really not validDominic Bertrand concludes.

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

Photo: Radio-Canada / Ivanoh Demers

Facts nonexistent and incompletedenounces AMDES

Not only the Marguerite-Bourgeoys School Service Center denounces this situation.

The Montreal Association of School Principals (AMDES), of which the CSSMB is a member, as well as the Center de services scolaire de la Pointe-de-l’Île (CSSPI) and the Center de services scolaire de Montréal (CSDM), is also of believes that the ministry should review its data collection method.

The organization adds in the same breath that the dropout 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 the AMDES.

The chairman cites as an example the report of the Québec ombudsman entitled: The student firstmade public last week, regrets the lack of data on staff shortages in educational services for students in difficulty (remedial education, psycho-education, speech therapy, special education, psychology).

On what elements are the decisions of such an important department based when the data to justify the decisions, the priorities, does not exist or is incomplete? asks Kathleen Legault.

Minister of Education Jean-François Roberge visits a school in the Center de services scolaire de Montréal (CSSDM) (Archive)

Photo: Radio-Canada / Ivanoh Demers

The MEQ says it can’t do anything

The Ministry of Education claims to be technically incapable and legal to change her data collection and thus adjust her portrait of early school leavers accordingly.

The MEQ has no […] no reliable information allowing him to distinguish exits due to “drop-out” from those due to other causes (emigration, relocation to another province, morbidity, death, etc.)said Bryan St-Louis, head of press relations.

The ministry explains that school administrators are not obliged toreason to leave schools. That’s why we write, the information […] is not sufficiently complete and validated to be used appropriately.

A success to be taken with caution

Psychologist and academic success specialist Égide Royer also believes that the improvement in the dropout rate seen in the 2022 edition from 14.2% to 13.5% relates to the 2019-2020 school year.

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

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

Photo: Radio Canada

The department agrees that this trend may include: partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The cancellation of the uniform tests of secondary 4 and 5 in June 2020 could have made it possible for some young people to obtain a diploma and thus [avoir] contributed to the decline in leaving without a diplomawrites Bryan St-Louis.

The cabinet of Education Minister Jean-François Roberge declined to comment on this file.

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