Conseil supérieur de l'éducation
Programs of Study and the Regulations -- THE MAJOR ISSUES

In a brief released in late January at a Verdun secondary school, the Conseil supérieur de l'éducation makes a number of recommendations on curriculum reform at the elementary and secondary levels. The brief was prepared at the Minister of Education's formal request last October that the Conseil study the basic school draft regulations.

At the outset, the Conseil's president Céline Saint-Pierre stressed that the Conseil supports the broad orientations set forth in The Reform of the Education System - A New Direction for Success and in the education policy statement Québec Schools on Course, stating that her organization would like to see the new programs of study offer a wide range of options for both students experiencing difficulties and students who could benefit from enriched programs.


Cycles and cross-curricular learning

The Conseil supérieur de l'éducation firmly supports the new system of organizing elementary education into three two-year cycles and secondary education into two cycles. By offering greater pedagogical leeway, this new system should reduce cases of students falling behind or repeating a grade. To encourage students to pursue their studies, the Conseil also recommends that a certificate be issued after the first cycle of secondary education.

The Conseil also acknowledges the considerable value of cross-curricular learning, those skills which can be acquired in several subject areas. It would like to see these defined in the basic school regulations.


Secondary School Diploma

The Conseil supérieur de l'éducation approves of increasing the number of credits that must be successfully completed to obtain a Secondary School Diploma from 54 to 60 (out of 72). However, it does not support the change that would require students to pass three additional courses: Mathematics and English, second language in Secondary V, and Science and Technology in Secondary IV. The Conseil feels that this requirement is inconsistent with the notion of a second cycle which encourages students to choose more demanding courses in order to better prepare themselves for college. Instead, it encourages them to choose less difficult courses in compulsory subjects.


Concurrent general and vocational education

While encouraging the largest possible number of students to complete a Secondary School Diploma (SSD), the Conseil welcomes the new conditions for studying for the Diploma of Vocational Studies (DVS) or the Vocational Education Certificate (VEC) before the age of 18. It recommends that the Minister of Education study and further explain the extent and type of general education that students will take in conjunction with vocational education.


Time allotted to French, language of instruction

The Conseil expresses its reservations concerning the allocation of 24 credits rather than the current 18 to French, language of instruction in the first cycle of secondary education, particularly since this increase eliminates the leeway allowing various optional courses to be offered. The Conseil does not believe that increasing time allotted guarantees ultimate student mastery of French. Rather, students would be better served by encouraging collaboration among staff members in order to achieve greater proficiency in language skills and by stressing high-quality teaching.



Currently, secondary school offers a considerable number of paths that allow for adaptation and remediation (upgrading, change to the vocational stream) and enrichment (international education, art-study and sport-study programs). In the Conseil's opinion, it is far from certain that this differentiation remains essential if educators work increasingly according to cycles, with much more adaptable programs of study and ongoing support. Regardless, the Conseil would like to see the new basic school regulation make a clear distinction between responsibilities with respect to differentiated curricula and describe the paths encouraged by the Ministère de l'Éducation.


Elementary school

The Conseil supérieur de l'éducation reiterates two recommendations it made last September in its brief Pour un renouvellement prometteur des programmes à l'école [Toward a Promising Renewal of Programs of Study]. It recommends that the number of hours of classroom time at the elementary level be increased to 25 (from the current 23.5). It also reiterates its view that it would be extremely unfortunate if introduction to science, history and geography were removed from the first cycle of elementary education and replaced by mathematics and language of instruction.


Other conditions underlying the reform's success

The Conseil supérieur de l'éducation expresses its concern that the schedule and means for implementing the revised programs leave insufficient room for informing and mobilizing schools. It also points out how important it is that universities contribute to the reform's success (via teacher training courses), as well as the critical role to be played by student services.

Panorama • Volume 4, Number 1 • February 1999

Document complet - in French (PDF)


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