While the baccalaureate holders have just made their last wishes on the Parcoursup platform and are beginning the baccalaureate specialty tests, criticism is once again being heard. Tuesday, March 14, during Questions to the government in the National Assembly, the deputy Rassemblement national du Loir-et-Cher Roger Chudeau questioned the Minister of National Education Pap Ndiaye. “The Parcoursup – new bac system is a perfectly arbitrary and globally ineffective systemhe denounced. As a result, 50% of high school graduates fail in the first year of higher education, congratulations!”, he then launched. Real numbers, but misrepresented.
#Parcoursup : when will you replace this unfair and ineffective procedure and when will you give back its place to the baccalaureate?
▶️ My question to the Minister @PapNdiaye this afternoon during questions to the government #QAG ⤵️ #DirectAN pic.twitter.com/ni6q7p1i3Y
—Roger Chudeau (@ChudeauR) March 14, 2023
52.2% failure in first year of license
The estimate given by Roger Chudeau is true. It is even a little below reality. According to the latest figures from the Ministry of Higher Education, 52.2% of first-year students at the start of the 2020 academic year did not progress to second year in September 2021. Half of them repeated a year in the same stream or in reorienting themselves, the other half stopped studying.
But these figures should be put into perspective because they only include students enrolled in university, without taking into account students in public or private schools. In addition, the health crisis has upset the year 2020, which cannot really serve as a reference.
Parcoursup didn’t make things worse
Nevertheless, the words of the deputy are misleading when he implies that the reform of the baccalaureate and the Parcoursup platform have made things worse.
First, the baccalaureate reform is too recent. The first high school students to have taken the new baccalaureate exams did so in 2021 and completed their first year of study in 2022. However, the Ministry of Higher Education always publishes the figures with a year lag. In November 2022, it published those concerning the first year of study for 2020 baccalaureate holders, cited above. It is therefore not yet possible to draw an assessment, positive or negative, of the reform of the baccalaureate on the success of higher education.
Regarding Parcoursup, the figures are available and the impact has not been negative. The much-criticized platform has been in place since 2018. 55.5% of the first high school graduates to use it and then did a first year of license did not go on to the second year. Conversely, just before the implementation of the platform, this failure rate was 56% for 2017 baccalaureate holders who registered at university, 59% for those in 2016, 58.4 % for those of 2015. Even before, we find a failure rate of 56.2% for those of 2011.
Other failure and success factors
The rates were therefore less good in the years preceding the establishment of Parcoursup. But that doesn’t mean the platform has made things any better. Going back in time, we find failure rates lower than the current rates, and therefore better. They rise to 51%, for example, for 1983 baccalaureate holders, during their first year of Deug.
In fact, there are several factors that explain the failures and successes of students, including social origins, the courses taken in high school and schooling before the baccalaureate. Someone who did well in high school is more likely to do well in college.