Political parties: the name strategy

At school, the electroshock of level groups

To deal with the plummeting academic level of French middle school students, highlighted by the results of the last Pisa test in the fall of 2023, Gabriel Attal announced a “shock of knowledge” to stop the phenomenon. At the beginning of March, the former Minister of National Education, who has since become head of government, detailed the main measure of this battle: the creation of level groups in French and mathematics which will be effective from the start of the school year in September 2024 for sixth and fifth grades.

A special official bulletin, published on March 17, describes the organizational arrangements for this measure intended to “raise the level of all students”. These “needs groups”, ultimately thus designated in the document, must be put in place by school directors and rely on increased mobilization of teachers. During a third of their timetable, students in the same class will be divided into three groups, according to their skills.

On paper, the emphasis placed on a personalized approach, aimed at identifying the aptitude of each student with a view to providing them with tailor-made teaching, could be attractive. Likewise, the desire to release funds which will make it possible to supervise middle school students more closely.

In fact, the teachers, who were called to strike on April 2 by the unions, are not fooled: the virtuous spiral hoped for by the Prime Minister could well turn into a race to the bottom. Behind a rhetoric that accumulates combative verbs and positive expressions lies the reality of good people and bad people, a source of stigmatization among adolescents who are quick to label their peers. For level groups, pedagogy experts prefer the “co-teaching” method: two teachers facing the same class and thus more able to respond to the diversity of needs without pointing the finger at the weakest. Parents, for their part, wonder if their children will one day stop being the eternal guinea pigs of incessant educational reforms…

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