Dropout rate: is the Ministry of Education’s portrait reliable?

Each year, the Quebec Ministry of Education (MEQ) publishes a document entitled Rate of exits without a diploma or qualification. This is the percentage of secondary school students who left school without obtaining a diploma, in other words, those who would have… off hook.

It is one of the key documents used by school stakeholders, the media and politicians to report on advancements or some setbacks in youth dropout.

Now, this official board does not distinguish students who actually dropped out of school from those who completed their studies in another province or in their country of origin. All are considered as leavers without diploma.

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

The organization La Rue’L, located in Drummondville, offers support to young people aged 18 to 35 to resume their secondary studies. (Archives).

Photo: Radio-Canada / Ivanoh Demers

Result: school dropout seems to disproportionately affect schools attended by many immigrants, such as those of the Center de services scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys (CSSMB) in Montreal.

Thus, while the provincial average for the 2022 edition, covering the 2019-2020 school year, shows a slight drop in the dropout rate in Quebec, 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 from immigrant backgrounds year after year. In 2015, for example, around 500 young Syrians attended its schools. There are a lot of families who left for Ontario […]it distorts the datadeplores the director of the CSSMB, Dominic Bertrand.

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

According to the CSSMB, of the 458 students considered leavers without diploma by the MEQ, 332 left the province for a readjusted total of 126 real dropoutsi.e. less than 5%.

We have these figures because we set up our Statistics and Accountability Office, but it’s not the same thing in all school service centersargues Mr. Bertrand.

Another problem mentioned: the official table of leavers without diploma also includes teenagers who left school due to health problems, or, more sadly, those who died.

As long as we have not isolated these variables, but especially the immigration variable, well, the rate of leaving without a diploma, it will be a percentage that is really not validconcludes Dominic Bertrand.

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

Photo: Radio-Canada / Ivanoh Demers

Datas non-existent and incompletedenounces AMDES

The Marguerite-Bourgeoys School Service Center is not the only one to denounce this situation.

The Montreal Association of School Principals (AMDES), whose members include the CSSMB, but also the Center de services scolaire de la Pointe-de-l’Île (CSSPI) and the Center de services scolaire de Montréal ( CSSDM), also believes that the ministry must review its way of collecting data.

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

In multiple files, we found that the Ministry of Education does not have sufficient and reliable dataaffirms Kathleen Legault, president of the AMDES.

The President cites as an example the Québec Ombudsman’s report entitled The student firstmade public last week, which deplores the lack of data concerning the shortage of personnel in educational services for students in difficulty (remedial education, psychoeducation, 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, are non-existent or incomplete? asks Kathleen Legault.

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

Photo: Radio-Canada / Ivanoh Demers

The MEQ says it can’t do anything

The Ministry of Education claims to be technically unable and legal to change its data collection and therefore adjust its portrait of school dropouts accordingly.

The MEQ does not have […] no reliable information allowing him to distinguish exits due to “dropout” from those due to other causes (emigration, moving to another province, morbidity, death, etc.)says Bryan St-Louis, head of press relations.

The ministry explains that school administrators are not required to declare thereason for leaving schools. Therefore, we write, the information […] is not sufficiently exhaustive and validated to be adequately exploited.

A success to be taken with caution

The psychologist and academic success specialist Égide Royer also believes that the apparent improvement in the dropout rate from 14.2% to 13.5% observed in the 2022 edition, relating 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 success rateexplains the associate professor at the Faculty of Education at Laval University.

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

Photo: Radio Canada

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

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

The office of Minister of Education Jean-François Roberge did not wish to comment on this file.


Leave a Comment