Quebec hides high school drop out & failure rates


Credit Microsoft Clip Art

Read this eye-popping column by Sarah-Maude Lefebvre of QMI. It is about why the Quebec Education Ministry does NOT release high school graduation and drop out data — even though the statistics are shocking. (H/T JNW) For example, Lefebvre writes:

“The province’s education minister, Line Beauchamp, said the policy [to not release drop out data] was introduced a few years ago for reasons of ‘sensitivity.’ ‘If we made the data public, one would realize that many institutions have a 100% dropout rate,’ Beauchamp told QMI Agency. ‘It would have a significant impact on the students’ self-esteem and staff morale.’

Yes, you read that right. Some high schools in Quebec have 100% or near 100% drop out rates –which, not surprisingly, have a significant impact on student self-esteem and staff morale. I mean, what do you expect to happen if more students fail high school than pass? How on earth are they going to be ready for the world of work and self-sufficiency? 

Okay, so what is the Quebec government doing to turn those numbers around? Not much it seems other than tsk tsking and saying ethics and confidentiality prohibit them from releasing data?  What absolute poppycock!  Excuses, excuses. How else can any school improve if the administration and staff at that school don’t know what they are doing wrong or how they might improve?

Frankly, the Quebec government’s entire approach to such reportage indicates, not only a complete lack of public accountability and transparency, but a philosophy of lowered expectations, what some might call bigotry and/or racism.

The crux of the matter is then, that if the Charest Liberal Government actually want to do something to reduce high school drop out rates, they could start by telling the truth and actually talking about real problems, rather than ignoring reality for reasons of “sensitivity.”


Endnote: When I was teaching in a Faculty of Education, I also owned and operated a private special education practice. My staff and I helped children, youth and adults who had learning and other related disabilities how to use learning strategies and technical devices to complete their assignments and exams. Most went on to succeed in school and life, even if it was only to take part in assisted employment.  Which means, that it is nothing but an excuse to suggest ethics and confidentiality prohibits the Quebec Education Ministry for telling the public why schools with kids in them that have disabilities are not graduating. They should be, even if they need assistance to do so. The failure is, therefore, with the school system, not the students. Meaning, the only breach of ethics is what the Quebec government is NOT doing.

16 thoughts on “Quebec hides high school drop out & failure rates

  1. why graduate high school when you have a generous social safety net to catch you? these kids are the product of decades of govt handling. am i surprised at this outcome? nope (except for that 100% thing. never thought reality could emulate pessimism.)


  2. There was a story done about this issue on Global last week I believe. The real stunner is that in Ontario the graduation rates are currently being skewered too.
    There’s a whole new way of playing with the numbers and those “victory laps” which could lend to a false sense of security here as well. Have a look at how the gov’t of Ontario tracks graduation rates these days. I wonder how this will all shake down when McGuinty nixes those victory laps? Might make it tough for students to stay in school until they’re 18?

    Oh, and let’s not forget how the unions ramped up their numbers once – remember that Sandy?


  3. Just sickening Catherine. Sometimes having a blog is just very discouraging because it brings all this type of dishonesty to light. I don’t expect Hudak to be aware of all this stuff, but surely he has staff who he could assign to various ministries and/or issues?

    Without a doubt, claiming five year averages are actually four year averages is misrepresenting by 20%. Plus, the fifth year is actually a different cohort.

    But, it is better than not telling the public anything as they are doing in Quebec. And, then having the gall to blame the lack of numbers on sensitivity.


  4. Catherine — Regarding your link, Ontario hasn’t had a five-year cohort since June of 2003, just before the McGuinty Liberals came to power. In fact, 2002/03 was the double cohort year. So, it is nearly a decade that there has been a high school cohort of 4 years. And, they have the nerve to state that it is a truer measurement!

    Here is a source about the double cohort entering university in September 2003.


  5. The actual working was that the five year cohort for a four-year measurement was a “more complete measure.” Yea, sure.


  6. Quite some time ago I was looking at the HS grad rates in Alberta and later in Yukon and noticed a decline so went nosing around. What I found was there was a direct relationship between the onset of the decline and the imposition/implementation of non-academic requirements (some career experience thingie) in order to qualify for graduation. Post secondary institutions were less concerned that the student had the ‘certificate’ than they were with the whether the student had the core academic requirements.

    In other words it may be more relevant to determine whether or not there has been a decline in transition into post secondary rather than certification.


  7. A very timely comment Gerry. The recently released Stats Can “Youth in Transition Survey” has found that post-secondary students are ill prepared by their high schools. I’ll write about soon. So, yes, there has been a decline.

    I retired about 7 years ago and even then I found I had to re-teach essay preparation skills to second and third year undergraduate students. Sounds like it is even worse now.

    It’s like the high schools seem to think that self-esteem is only important until they graduate, rather than a good dose of reality. Because their self-esteem sure drops like a stone when they get their first B or C in college or university. Most seem utterly amazed actually when they don’t always get an A.

    A “C” used to be average, a “B” well done and an “A” only be for outstanding work where very little could be done to improve the work.

    However, one thing I disagree with what you say. Post secondary institutions always require a diploma unless a student meets the criteria of a mature student. Then, they would likely have to be on probation for their first five full credits or ten half credits. Plus, there are always certain core subjects which are required. No university that I know of would accept non-academic credits or career experience unless that experience was applicable as in acceptance to a B.A./B.Ed program. In a case like that, both types of credits/experience are required.


  8. Thanks Sandy,
    As I said my experience was some ago and at that time students were enrolling in university without the certificate. Not suggesting it was a general rule but the Yukon was small enough that I knew some of the students involved. Fortunately I got out of the dep’t before the self esteem hoax totally took over 🙂 and you had to teach them the basics.


  9. I hear you Gerry. I should have also added that I have no idea what is going at the university level now. It’s gotten to be a popularily contest. If you don’t mark easy, you don’t get any students. And, that’s a pity. No one is going to benefit in the long run.


  10. Pingback: Sandy: Quebec hides high school drop out & failure rates | Jack's Newswatch

  11. Thanks Russ. The iTheme2 template looks entirely different with an other-worldly dark night sky. I have a private test site so I was pleasantly surprised to see how it looked with a few colour changes. Mind you, I still have to figure out how to get the “feature slider” how to work.


  12. There is nothing wrong with the “Victory Lap”. Lots of kids finish grade 12 look at their average of say 75-80% realize the cut off for most programs they want is 80-82% so they come back and take courses over to boost their average. Same thing was done in the 1960’s with Grade 13. It is nothing new. Do you think it is better they forget about university and spend their life in wage ghetto’s? It is both far better for them and far better for society that they do the Victory Lap.

    BTW schools actively encourage kids to take it if they think it is the best course for that kid rather than college or straight to work.


  13. Doug — I agree with the Victory Lap. That is not what this post was about. Stay tuned, I am just about to put up one about the Waterloo gun drawing incident. You may be surprised at my position.


  14. Doug — I have not forgotten that I asked you not to comment here. So, please, no hassles or sarcasm, which may be difficult for you to manage.


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