Monday, April 19, 2010
The news will seem familiar to Americans. In 2008, President Sarkozy announced with great fanfare that there would be no more "social promotions" in French schools. Students were to be tested for proficiency at the end of their primary schooling to assess their fitness to move on to the collège, or junior high school, level. The first CM2 evaluations since the reform are now in, and students have done slightly worse in French and slightly better in math than in pre-reform testing. And of course the nearly one-fourth of students who are doing less well than they should be will continue to suffer as they move on to higher grades. Of course no one would have expected huge improvements in just two years, but from these results it's not even clear that the reforms are moving in the right direction. And who knows whether the problem is with the tests, the curriculum, the teaching, the condition of the schools, or the home environment of failing students. These data won't tell us, but the Institut Montaigne promises a fuller report on May 4.