09/19/2014 12:13 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 01:01 EDT

Dismal dropout rates among French-speaking students worry minister

Dropout rates are getting worse for the province’s French-speaking students, and Quebec’s education minister is considering new ways of keeping students in class.

A report tabled by the education ministry details the success rates of four cohorts over 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 in all the regions of Quebec. The groups of students were followed for between five and seven years.

Overall, 60 to 62.6 per cent of high school students getting their instruction in the province’s French-language schools are graduating with diplomas in five to seven years.

The students at English-speaking school boards are faring much better. Over the same period of time, the students receiving their high school education in English had graduation rates of between 71.9 and 76.2 per cent.

Broken down even further, the numbers show a growing trend of boys failing to graduate in both the English- and the French-language education systems.

Last year alone, only 40.6 per cent of the boys followed in the 2007 cohort at the French-language Commission scolaire de Montréal graduated in five years.

Is poverty in Montreal part of the reason?

Jacques Dionne of the Commission scolaire de Montréal’s parents committee, a French-language school board in Montreal, said the situation is alarming.

“The statistics at the [CSDM] are not glorious. It can likely be explained by several factors, namely that poverty in Montreal is more concentrated than it is in the regions,” Dionne said.

But the higher graduation rates among students in Montreal’s English-language Lester B. Pearson and the English Montreal school boards point to more complex factors possibly related to culture, income, location and number of students enrolled.

And private schools generally have much higher success rates, no matter the language.

Quebec's minister of education agreed the situation is worrisome and said something needs to be done.

Suanne Stein Day, chairwoman of the Lester B. Pearson School Board, said her school board’s success is owed to individualized attention for each student.

“We have an incredible staff of teachers and support people in the classroom who not only are committed to their students, but they respect their students’ backgrounds and abilities,” she said.

Read the whole report here: