8 September 2023

EWhat if reading difficulties turned out to be the source of all educational inequalities? The international Pirls study on reading and reading comprehension shows it in its latest edition unveiled on Tuesday 16 May: the social category of the family plays a major role in student results, as do all activities related to reading and language that parents can start at an early age.

These inequalities are summed up by an eloquent figure taken from a 2004 American study: a 3-year-old child from a very disadvantaged background has heard thirty million fewer words than a child raised in a privileged family. It is up to the education systems to overcome these birth inequalities.

However, if the Pirls study reveals a stabilization of the results of French pupils, or even a slight increase in the most complex skills, they remain well below the European average. The evaluations carried out by the Ministry of National Education, and systematized under the Blanquer era (2017-2022), complete the examination of the weaknesses of the French education system.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Reading proficiency: France, still below the European average, stabilizes its results

In CE1, nearly one in three pupils does not have a satisfactory command of reading words and 17% of understanding texts. At the entrance in 6e, a little more than half of the pupils can read 120 words per minute, ie the expected level, and one in two pupils masters reading comprehension. At the end of 3efinally, a third of the pupils find themselves discouraged or deprived of a reading strategy when they are asked to read a page of text.

Polarization on “lower grades”

As early as 2016, the consensus conference on reading orchestrated by the National Center for the Study of School Systems came to this conclusion: “The French school system has learned to train deciphering pupils, but who do not necessarily become expert readers. »

Faced with these national and international surveys, ministers of education have announced one after another for twenty years plans focusing on basic knowledge. Learning to read focused on the CP class and the crucial decoding skills to be acquired from the start of primary school. The duplication of CP and CE1 classes in priority education, set up by Jean-Michel Blanquer, is an illustration of this.

This polarization on the “lower grades”, which some still consider insufficiently effective given the heterogeneity of practices, may have led to the abandonment of the pursuit of learning to read in the other levels, a fortiori on the understanding of ‘writing. According to the Pirls survey, teachers in CM1 classes are both less likely than their European counterparts to pursue exercises related to decoding and fewer to offer activities related to understanding texts. “Pirls assesses skills that are not taught”says bluntly Roland Goigoux, professor emeritus at the University of Clermont-Auvergne.

You have 57.62% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *