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In French, more very good students, fewer average students

To those who continually lament “the drop in French level” schoolchildren, the latest edition of the Cedre study (1) provides a timid denial. Carried out every five or six years by the Depp, the national education statistics department, it makes it possible to measure, from a sample, the performance of pupils in reading comprehension and language study. Performances which are progressing slightly after twelve years of stability, with a score of 254 points, against 251 in 2015.

This progression is observed above all in public schools outside priority education (+ 5 points), while those located in REP or REP +, or in the private sector, “do not see their performance change significantly between 2015 and 2021”, year of examination. As a result, the gap between public excluding priority education and private is narrowing (from 8 to 6 points). But the most successful students are more represented in the private sector.

An increase despite the health crisis

Behind the slight increase in general level also hides a greater dispersion of results between pupils, the standard deviation going from 43 to 46 points. Thus, the share of top performers increases, that of average students decreases, while the weakest group remains stable. “Differences in levels always very marked by the social origin of the students”, emphasizes Depp, even if the level gap between schools welcoming the most advantaged and the least advantaged socially (30 points) has remained stable since 2015.

This new study only partially makes it possible to judge the effectiveness of the policy led by Jean-Michel Blanquer, insofar as it relates to the performance of pupils who entered mainly CP in 2016, before the splitting of classes in priority education and reinforcement of the learning of “fundamentals” (reading, writing, counting).

The slight increase observed appears in any case “all the more remarkableunderlines the Depp, that it comes one year after schools closed in March-April 2020 due to the health crisis”.


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