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High school dropout rate unchanged in Quebec

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A study led by Université de Montréal researchers, in collaboration with colleagues from the Université du Québec à Montréal and Concordia University, has found the provincial government's New Approaches, New Solutions intervention strategy – designed to reduce teen dropout rates from disadvantaged milieus across Quebec – has only partially achieved its goals. Dropout rates, academic motivation and performance in core curriculum have not budged, although violent and a disruptive behavior in schools was curbed among teens supported by their schools and families.

“The New Approaches, New Solutions intervention strategy was effective only at schools that fully integrated the program,” says study leader Michel Janosz, a psycho-education professor at the Université de Montréal and director of the Groupe de Recherche sur les Environnements Scolaires (research group on school environments) or GRES.

Between 2002 to 2008, the Quebec Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sports (Ministre de l'Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport) commissioned the Université de Montréal's GRES to thoroughly asses the outcome of its intervention strategy. Data was collected across the province from approximately 30,000 students and 4,000 staff from a sample of 57 French schools and nine English schools. Results were compared to a sample of 11 control schools. “This study was among the largest ever conducted in Quebec and one of the few studies of its kind in the world,” says Dr. Janosz.

Key findings:
The research team found the main stumbling block in Quebec's education system is the lack of support to implement the New Approaches, New Solutions intervention strategy. “Measures required by the intervention strategy are new, demanding and would have require increased support from school boards and the Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sports. Expertise to implement these new operating methods was insufficiently developed within the boards and the Ministry,” says Dr. Janosz.

The research team identified several other factors that mitigated the New Approaches, New Solutions intervention strategy: staff mobility; complexity of the strategy itself; limited teamwork at schools; overly bureaucratic planning process; slow changes in classroom practices.

Recommendations:
Dr. Janosz and his research team made 13 recommendations to improve the New Approaches, New Solutions intervention strategy. Major recommendations are to reduce the number of targets and to focus on school dropouts, school engagement, as well as increase reading, writing and math proficiency. What's more, the investigators suggested the Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sports require school boards to support more schools, improve communication methods, reduce the number of mandates and priority issues, pay particular attention to large schools and continue to evaluate their actions.

“To ensure a prosperous future for our province, the Government of Quebec must persevere in its fight against school dropout. Its willingness to assess its actions is the only way to correct dropout rates and improve the situation in the medium-to-long term. Few governments of industrialized countries have the political will to examine the faults of their education systems. Without this study, educators could not make improvements to the system and educators would be destined to repeat past errors,” says Dr. Janosz.

A summary and written synthesis of the final evaluation of New Approaches, New Solutions intervention strategy is available upon request. An electronic version of these documents is available (in French and English) for download at /www.gres-umontreal.ca/pg/siaa/siaa-rapports_sommaire-synthese.html .

On the Web:

Media contact:
Julie Gazaille
Press Attachée
University of Montreal
Telephone:  514-343-6796
E-mail:  j.cordeau-gazaille@umontreal.ca

 

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