Quebec overstating English dropout rates

Quebec overstating English dropout rates

LBPSB spent less than French boards to achieve better results

By Robert Frank

Ministry of Education figures for the province’s high school dropout rate mislead the public, leaving the impression that English students are faring much worse academically than they really are, Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) reported.

“The dropout rate is the key number that we’re measured on, but it’s pretty well inflated,” LBPSB chair Suanne Stein-Day told The Suburban in an interview.

“What the government is measuring is the number of students who don’t complete their secondary school learning in the public system in Quebec,” she explained. “If we lose a student who transfers to private school or moves to Ontario, that’s among the 16 percent who are reported as not completing their education at LBPSB.”

“It certainly affects English school boards, whose clientele are more mobile than the families of students in our French counterparts,” added LBPSB assistant director-general Steve Balleine, during a subsequent interview.

Numbers distorted

“The latest annual results deemed 345 out of LBPSB’s approximately 22,000 youth sector students to have dropped out,” he continued. “When we checked, 56 of them were pursuing studies outside the province.”

“Western Quebec School Board—which is responsible for a territory the size of Belgium bordering Ontario—is the most affected of Quebec’s nine boards,” Balleine observed, harder hit than LBPSB with respect to their alleged dropout rate.

“Their latest figure has them at 37 percent,” he said Stein-Day noted that the English community also has a significant transient population.

“People move both in and out,” she said, “coming in from overseas for, say, two years, to work for multinational companies. We have a lot of that on the West Island.”

Stein-Day underscored that LBPSB is in fact accomplishing more with less.

“It’s remarkable when you consider that despite having—by a good margin—the lowest cost per student, our students are still achieving excellent academic results,” she enthused. “We’re spending 30 per cent less per student than larger, French school boards, thanks to the amazing teachers in our system.”

In Quebec, boys are still 60 per cent more likely to drop out than girls, according to official Ministry of Education figures.

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