Bad surprise in the newsletter

Bad surprise in the newsletter


A fourth-grade student who had obtained a school mark of 72% in mathematics at the end of the year saw this result drop to 43% after failing the ministerial test, the victim of a statistical treatment that is questioned by experts.  

It would not be an isolated case because the Ministry of Education claims to have been made aware of “particular situations” and is currently carrying out “a more in-depth analysis of the situation”. < /p>

Amélie Bérubé, 16, has worked hard all year to hope to pass her secondary four mathematics. For this young girl who has an attention deficit, math has always been her pet peeve, says her mother, Karine Boulay. 

After several periods of remedial education, remedial work and “an incalculable number of crying and anxiety attacks”, the young girl managed to obtain a mark of 72% in June. All she has to do now is pass the ministerial test to get her final grade, she's almost there. 

But the exam is really not going as she hoped, the anxiety takes over. Amélie is still hopeful of obtaining the final pass mark, because the ministerial exams count for 20% of the final mark this year, unlike 50% before the pandemic. 

At the beginning of July, the verdict falls. Amélie obtained 46% in the ministerial test, but the Ministry of Education lowered her school mark, which went from 72% to… 43%. She is failing. 

For Amélie and her mother, it is a shock. The surprise is total. “It threw me to the ground,” says Ms. Boulay. Her teenager, “curled up in a ball”, then wanted to give up everything, she adds. 

“Moderate” grades

After several steps, Ms. Boulay finally understood that her daughter's school mark had been lowered under a statistical treatment of the Ministry of Education applied to all students, which has existed since 1974. The “moderation” aims to “to make the assessment fair for all students”, says the Ministry.  

For each group, the students' marks are compared with those obtained at the ministerial test. If, in the same group, several students obtain exam results that are much lower than the mark given by their teacher, the mark will be lowered. The reverse is also true.

It is a process, justified by some, to ensure that schools' results are worth the same from one institution to another, in order to avoid “candy marks” or evaluations that are too severe.  

But others are opposed to this way of doing things, which, in their eyes, gives far too much weight to the ministerial examination in the final result of the student (see other text below). 

For his part, the director of the Institut d'enseignement de Sept-Îles, the private secondary school that Amélie attends, defends tooth and nail the work of his “super qualified” mathematics teacher who has ten years of experience. experience. 

For Mathieu Brien, it is rather the context that is in question. This year, some students prepared less well for the ministerial exams, since they only counted for 20% of the final mark, he says. 

In this secondary school, the failure rate in the ministerial exams in all subjects is three to five times higher than usual, indicates Mr. Brien.  

This The latter finds it hard to understand why the Ministry has not changed the exam moderation process this year. “I find it difficult to see the marks of a student who has worked for ten months be reduced because of a test that was worth 20%”, he drops. 

For Amélie's mother, this statistical treatment is also difficult to swallow, because it penalizes students who perform poorly under pressure, she says “With this way of doing things, the ministry produces dropouts”, launches Ms. Boulay, who wrote to Minister Jean-François Roberge to denounce the situation. 

The Ministry says it wants to assess the situation in order to determine whether “solutions for cases presenting excessive inequities could be made ”.  

A request for grade review is always possible, adds its spokesperson, Esther Chouinard.

Statistical processing that is not unanimous

Statistical processing performed by the Ministry of Education during ministerial tests is far from unanimous. Experts oppose it, while stakeholders in the school network rather consider that it is completely justified.

Micheline-Johanne Durand, professor at the Faculty of Education at the University of Montreal, believes that the moderation of marks “discredits the professional judgment of teachers” by giving too much weight to the ministerial test in the final mark. of the student. 

“The ministry imposes its dictates without nuance, I find that distressing”, she affirms. 

Like several other speakers, Ms. Durand considers that it is high time for the department to review its evaluation policy. 

Mélanie Tremblay, professor at the University of Quebec in Rimouski, also questions the importance and the form of the ministerial tests, where everything is played in three short hours for thousands of students. 

< p>Maintaining the policy of moderation also distorts the relief that the government wanted to provide in the context of the pandemic, adds Ms. Tremblay.  

However, the story is different at the Group of High School Mathematics Leaders. Its president, Guy Gervais, is in favor of this statistical treatment. 

“It's important to ensure that the high school diploma has the same value everywhere in Quebec,” he says. .  

At the Federation of Private Education Institutions, the director of educational services, Christian LeBlanc, also defends this practice, which is “completely justified”, even in the current context. , he says. 

“The Department wants to ensure that students are assessed fairly. Normally, a teacher who respects the program and the evaluation framework should not have too many surprises”, he says. 

This statistical treatment should however be better known and better explained to the students to their parents, adds Mr. LeBlanc. 

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