School at three speeds: nearly one in two students desert regular public secondary classes

Nearly one pupil in two deserts regular public secondary school classes, according to a new study by the Institute for Socioeconomic Research and Information (IRIS), which once again highlights the perverse effects of school on three speeds.

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According to the most recent data from the Ministry of Education compiled by IRIS, 21% of Quebec adolescents attend private schools, while at least 23% are enrolled in specific programs in the public network. Result: 44% of young people abandon regular classes in public schools, where there is then a concentration of students in difficulty or more vulnerable.

“Almost half of the students are removed from ordinary classes in public schools. It is really very very significant, ”says the author of the study, Anne Plourde.

These official figures would only represent an “underestimate” of the real portrait, adds the researcher, since the results of another survey carried out by the ministry suggest that the phenomenon is in fact much higher.

In wanting to compete with the private network, public schools have set up over the past twenty years a multitude of special programs, in arts, sports or sciences for example.

In several of these programs or concentrations, students are selected on the basis of their academic results, while registration fees can represent a barrier for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

After experiencing sustained growth, the proportion of students attending private schools has stabilized for nearly ten years, while it is even declining in certain regions such as the Capitale-Nationale and Mauricie.

A more unequal public school

« Public schools have managed to curb the exodus to the private network, but this has come at the cost of greater inequalities within public schools, which in our opinion is not the solution to this problem. “says Ms. Plourde.

It’s not the particular programs that are the problem, but rather “the selection and entry fees that create a skimming effect,” she says.

This selection process, which is now reserved only for private schools, has the effect of concentrating the most vulnerable students in regular classes « while it is precisely these students who would benefit the most from special programs or emulation of more successful students in the class,” explains Ms. Plourde.

Since the start of the school year, Quebec has been paying up to $200 for registration in specific programs, which reduces the bill passed on to parents, but no measures have been put in place to limit the selection of students based on academic results. .

“We need to set up special programs that are accessible to all students, regardless of their academic strength,” pleads the researcher.

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