After the students, the parents. Monday, May 3, the high school union UNL tried to block a hundred establishments to demand the abolition of the final exams of the bac at this stage maintained (early test of French, philosophy and grand oral). Two days later, it was the turn of FCPE, the main federation of parents of pupils, to demand the granting of the bac, the patent and the BTS on the basis of continuous monitoring alone.
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His arguments are multiple: disparate functioning of establishments (some went to half-gauge in November, others were able to function normally until the third confinement), risks of contamination during face-to-face exams or even premature closure of high schools to allow the holding of these tests.
For the president of the FCPE, Rodrigo Arenas, the Covid crisis has clearly accelerated parents’ awareness of the virtues of continuous monitoring: “Many have understood that what is done throughout the year is as important as the final exam. “ The “Parents Barometer” recently carried out by his federation with 4,000 families shows that 78% of respondents are in favor of eliminating final exams for this 2021 session.
“A lasting change of mentality”
A plebiscite of the continuous assessment which is very much due to the degraded teaching conditions: 88% of parents think that their child has not been sufficiently prepared for the final exams, while 90% believe that he will not be able, before the end of the the year, address the entire program. But for Rodrigo Arenas, “The change in mentality is undoubtedly deeper, more lasting”. He, in any case, would be in favor of “The sustainable establishment of a baccalaureate entirely in continuous control”.
Without going that far, the SNPDEN, the main union of school leaders, would welcome a lasting strengthening of continuous monitoring, already very present in the new formula for the bac. “Instead of very cumbersome mini-exams to organize, the common tests on the subjects of the common block could be taken like simple checks, even if the subjects are taken from a national bank”, suggests its national secretary Florence Delannoy.
Likewise, continues this principal, “We could very well replace the final exams relating to the two specialty courses by continuous assessment”. We would only keep in the final exam – this is the solution adopted for this session under Covid – the grand oral and philosophy, or barely 18% of the overall mark (against the 60% provided for by the reform). “Enough to keep a little of the symbolism of the bac and prepare for the functioning of higher education”, argues this head of establishment.
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“Clearly, the lines are moving”, observes the historian Claude Lelièvre (1), for whom the French education system is largely an exception. “Most of our neighbors have dissociated the validation of secondary studies, very largely based on continuous assessment, from an entrance examination in higher education. France has more or less retained this dual use of the ferry. With a ritual dimension to which many remain attached. A dimension totally eclipsed by the pandemic last year and which is very weak this year. ” In his eyes, the bac is on its way to “Trivialization”, with 95% admitted last year and a massification of higher studies.
Continuous control, continuous pressure
But this movement, initiated with the Blanquer reform, reinforced by the Covid, is not without negative effects, warns Claire Guéville, national secretary of Snes. Continuous control rhymes with continuous pressure. “From the first class, the students have the impression of passing the bac every week”, she said, referring to the quarterly report cards which normally count for 10% of the diploma mark. “Suddenly, teachers – both preparers and evaluators – are under pressure from students, parents, the head of the school. The pedagogical relationship is thereby altered ”, estimates this professor of history and geography.
Questioned in the Senate precinct on Wednesday 5 May, Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said he wanted to find for this 2021 session a “Pragmatic and benevolent solution”, with probable adjustments, at the margin: “For example, there will very likely be measures so that a pupil, when he arrives at an oral examination, can indicate the parts of the program which have not been seen, the document being signed by his teacher. “