has the pandemic affected the level of the students?

The National Education has just published this Tuesday, November 16 the results of the assessments of achievements in French and mathematics for students of CP and CE1. And the conclusions are pretty good!

The health crisis linked to the Covid-19 pandemic strongly impacted the course of the courses for all pupils in France, and therefore had repercussions on their school level. For a year, those in school had to juggle distance education and face-to-face lessons at school.

The 2020 report of the Evaluation, Foresight and Performance Department – which evaluates the policies conducted by the National Education – thus revealed a slight decrease in performance compared to 2019, with in particular a weakening in French for CE1 students. At the CP, we noted 3 point difference concerning pupils able to recognize the name of letters and their sound (77% in 2020 against 80% in 2019). School teachers, for their part, did not note any significant change in terms of commitment and of motivation concerning good students versus those in difficulty.

A rise in the post-pandemic level

After an eventful year due to the Coronavirus and specific to the loss of bearings for students, the 2021 report delivers encouraging results : the general level of the CP and CE1 classes has increased not only compared to 2020, but also compared to 2019!

In French, 81.6% of first-grade schoolchildren know how to identify the letters of the alphabet and recognize their sound, compared to 79.3% in 2020, and 81.3% in 2019.
In mathematics, 78.4% of CE1 students can read whole numbers, against 74.7% at the end of confinement in 2020, and 75.6% in 2019.

Jean-Michel Blanquer considers as such that “the negative effect of confinement has been erased”. For the Minister of National Education, the explanation is multi-factorial : “First of all, having been able to keep our schools open during the health crisis made it possible to continue learning at the primary level. There is also the deepening of educational policies by teachers: the French and mathematical plans have allowed methodical approaches to learning what I call fundamental knowledge. […]. We must especially salute the performance of school teachers, who have braved difficulties last year to keep schools open “.

Why assess learning?

These learning assessments were introduced in 2018, in order to offer teachers monitoring the level of their students, and this to then allow them to set up action plans to fight against academic difficulties.

The test is different depending on the class: CP, schoolchildren are assessed in French on recognizing sounds and understanding sentences, and mathematics on using numbers up to 10 and problem solving. In CE1, the assessment of prior learning concerns reading and calculations.

Overall, the Ministry of National Education considers that 60% of students have sufficient mastery of the skills expected at the end of primary education. However, France suffers from the international comparison in terms of differences in level between advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds : thee International Program for the Monitoring of Student Achievement revealed in 2018 that France was housed between 20th and 26th place out of a ranking of 79 states.

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