Passing a subject at the end of secondary school despite failure: a practice condemned by teachers’ unions

A Secondary IV student who fails in French can progress to Secondary V in the same subject the following year. If the student successfully completes this course, the student will be considered to have passed and learned the fourth secondary course in advance. Newspaper. Teacher unions have condemned the practice, while Minister Bernard Trinville has not closed the door on possible changes.

In the school network, there is a name for doing such actions: “unblocking”, read a document from the Ministry of Education sent to the school network in June 2022. This practice is still in force.

To obtain their secondary school diploma, a student must successfully complete some fourth and fifth secondary courses, but must accumulate a certain number of units for each course.

“Advancement” consists of giving credit to a student in the fourth secondary subject, if he or she passes the fifth secondary in the same subject the following year.

The process is carried out “automatically” in the Ministry of Education’s computer system for the subjects of French, English, ethics and religious culture, art and physical education, the Ministry of Education points out.

It was a practice that was possible during the pandemic, which was briefly withdrawn before being reinstated in June 2022 following “feedback received from partners in the school network”.

Students must pass “from the bottom up”.

However, the Federation of Education Societies (FSE-CSQ) opposes what it sees as a way of “pushing students down”.

“We never agreed to this practice,” says its president Josie Scalabrini.

The FSE explains that prior to the pandemic, a similar exemption could already be granted under the provisions of the Public Education Act for specific circumstances, giving the example of a student failing studies due to health or a difficult family situation.

The School Service Center must manually request the Ministry for each student.

However, it is now easier for school administrators to exploit this as the awarding of credit for a failed course is “automated”, FSE laments. “Now it is Bigger», says Ms. Scalabrini, who feels the practice “serves the school institution instead of the student.”

The administration uses it to move failing students to the next level, when there are no places to retake the course or there are scheduling conflicts, FSE says.

At the Sherbrooke Regional School Service Center (CSSRS), an internal reference was made to “unwrapping”. Newspaper Able to consult, we assure that this measure is used in a “specific context”, sometimes at the request of the student or parent, while administrations can also use it to facilitate the school system.

“As soon as we send this structure, school principals here govern themselves, just like anywhere else in Quebec. We don’t know if they’re too restrictive or too flexible. There’s no accountability,” says Donald Landry, secretary general of the CSSRS.

On the part of school principals, we recognize that institutional constraints represent a “major” reason for this practice, particularly as lack of space in many schools prevents the opening of additional groups.

“This can lead to unraveling cases, but it’s always done according to the rules of the art,” said Carl Oulet, president of the Quebec School Administrative Staff Association. “For the most part, we rely on our education services to support this. I understand that teachers can be very careful, but these should be the exception.”

In Education Minister Bernard Trinville’s office, we wonder about doing these things. “It is certain that this procedure raises questions. We are giving a few days to get to the bottom of things. We are not closing the door to making changes,” says his press secretary Antoine de la Durante.

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