2 February 2024

The entrance to the Lycée Henri IV, in Paris.

The Parisian situation, according to rector Christophe Kerrero, appointed in 2020, had become ” impossible “. The platform for assigning high school students via the Net (Affelnet), implemented in 2008 and used everywhere in France to assign students from 3e in high schools – but parameterized very differently in Paris – had generated enormous pressure on a few high schools in the northeast quarter of the capital, which had become extremely selective while others were shunned by good students.

This situation, in addition to generating a marked social and school interpersonal relationship, generated frustration, as students, particularly in the northeast, were few in number to access the establishment of their choice.

A reform of Affelnet has therefore been initiated for the start of the 2021 school year, and the least that can be said is that it has borne fruit. “In the space of two years, the social segregation of public high schools in the capital, which was 15% higher than the average for other academies, has become 26% lower than this average”, summarize Julien Grenet and Pauline Charousset, researchers at the Paris School of Economics, in an analysis note released on February 8. Julien Grenet leads the reform monitoring committee, set up by the rectorate.

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In 2021, the year of entry into force of the reform, social segregation – the fact of grouping together students of the same social origin in the same establishments – in Parisian public high schools had dropped by around 30%, compared to 2019. In 2022, it fell by 39%, still compared to 2019.

Based on placement test scores from the start of 2ofJulien Grenet’s team has also calculated that “the school segregation index of Parisian public high schools was down 26% at the start of the 2021 school year, and by 30% at the start of the 2022 school year”. School segregation – the fact of grouping together students of the same level in the same place – nevertheless remains much more marked in Paris than in the rest of the country.

With this reform, each Parisian college was assigned a “sector 1” of five high schools of varied attractiveness. Students in a disadvantaged secondary school receive a bonus of 600 or 1,200 points to access the secondary school of their choice, and a separate procedure assigns a “target rate” of grant recipients in each secondary school.

This method made it possible to “relocate the competition”, say the two researchers. High schools “historically the most selective”like Charlemagne (4e district) and Victor Hugo (3e), have lost some of their “pressure rate”for the benefit of new “poles of attraction” outside the Paris hypercentre, like Lamartine (9e) and Voltaire (11e).

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