English boards will look to build on current success rates - QESBA welcomes Minister Courchesne's high-school completion plan

    MONTREAL, Sept. 9 /CNW Telbec/ - Quebec English School Boards Association
(QESBA) President Debbie Horrocks welcomed today's announcement by Education
Minister Michelle Courchesne of a 13-point action plan to improve Quebec's
worrisome record on high school graduation rates. While the province's nine
English school boards post graduation rates in the 80-per-cent range, the
Quebec average is almost 10 points lower.
    "QESBA had told Minister Courchesne that it would be looking, basically,
for three key pillars in today's announcement," noted Horrocks, "first,
government support for locally tailored and flexible school success strategies
developed by our individual school boards; second, a real focus on individual
intervention for at-risk students; and third, additional resources targeted to
help our teachers and professionals better address the drop-out problem. On
each of those fronts, QESBA reacts positively to today's announced plan."
    Horrocks saluted the work of L. Jacques Ménard, CEO of BMO Nesbitt Burns,
who chaired the task force that largely set the table for this major
government initiative. "As M. Ménard and the Minister have stressed, reducing
the number of high school drop-outs across the province will require an
on-going partnership that pivots around our education network but also
includes the health sector, the business world, community and government.
There are growing signs that a real coalition is building, and that makes
today's announcement quite significant."
    Quebec's English public school network has always underlined that staying
in school is Job #1. "We've understood that completing high school, even if it
has to take an extra year or two, is the essential ticket to the future for
every student in Quebec," Horrocks said. "The real worth of this action plan
will be measured by how well it allows our individual schools and boards to
guide an increasing number of students toward high school completion."
    QESBA reacts positively to the identification in the plan of three key
axes for intervention: early childhood, at the transition from elementary to
high school and at the final years of high school. It is at these three points
where students facing difficulties most need the extra attention. QESBA is
pleased to see that the Minister will devote additional resources at these
stages to support extra-curricular activities, vocational education, resource
teachers and improved student-teacher ratios.
    The association has expressed some concerns on the mechanics of this
third point: a plan to reduce Grade 3-6 class sizes by a modest average of two
students over the next four years. QESBA notes that this very expensive
measure is not necessarily the best answer to engaging students in high school
success. Furthermore, in the vast majority of English schools, the measure
would be impossible to implement, given the limited number of grade groupings
in most English schools. QESBA has received some assurances that this measure
will be implemented with some flexibility to ensure that English schools can
use these designated funds in ways that better adapt to local and currently
successful approaches to keeping young people in school.
    The President of QESBA will be representing the English education sector
on a "comité de suivi" announced by the Minister today. "This action plan is a
work in progress," Horrocks concluded, "but we know our boards will apply the
rigor and the transparency to make sure our students benefit from this
important and prominent focus on their success."

For further information:

For further information: Kimberley Hamilton, Director of Communications
and Special Projects, (514) 849-5900, ext. : 225, (514) 919-3894, cell.

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Quebec English School Boards Association

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