In a letter sent to teachers on the evening of January 21, Jean-Michel Blanquer ended up announcing that the specialty tests for the new bac, scheduled for March 15 and 16 and that he had so far refused to postpone, will not have not take place. They will be evaluated in continuous monitoring, “On the basis of the averages of the three final terms of these courses. “
The decision was expected. Hoped, even, while the majority of high schools have been in hybrid education since All Saints’ Day and that, with the winter holidays approaching, the impossibility of preparing for these tests appeared obvious, raising the tension among candidates and teachers. In his letter, the Minister of National Education also claims to have “Heard the concerns expressed” by each other in the face of what was “Experienced as a race against time. “
Regarding the anticipated French test
While one of the reasons he put forward for refusing this cancellation was the need for the marks of the specialties to be taken into account in Parcoursup, the obstacle seems to have miraculously disappeared: the procedure “Will take into account the averages [de spécialité] reported in the bulletins of the first two quarters. “ Only in June, as provided for in the initial calendar, the written philosophy test (on the 17th) and the “grand oral” (from June 21 to July 2) remain, another highly contested innovation of the “bac Blanquer”.
The same calendar applies for the early French test for first year students. But the minister decided to arrange these tests “So that the special learning conditions of students are taken into account since March 2020” : in philosophy, candidates will be able to choose between three subjects, instead of two; for the oral French, the number of texts to be presented is reduced to fourteen for the general route, and seven for the technological route. As for the vocational baccalaureate, it is not entitled to any adjustment, the Minister judging that “The calendar is more favorable to maintaining the session in its initially planned format. “
“It’s a decision that takes away a weight”
All the unions, which have long been calling for the postponement or cancellation of the specialty tests, welcomed this announcement. “We have been alerted for weeks on the stress, the anguish of the students, of the teachers”recalled on France Info Sophie Vénétitay, deputy general secretary of the first of them, the Snes-FSU. “It’s a decision that takes away a weight” , she agreed, while recalling that her organization had voted for the postponement of these tests in June, and not for the continuous monitoring.
If for the Se-Unsa, the latter “Allows subjects to adapt to real progressions”and “Ensures that students will be well assessed” , SUD-Education regrets that after the precedent of 2020, the minister is coming “Once again to change the rules of the tests during the school year” and “Take this opportunity to push further continuous monitoring. “Snalc reminds us that the majority of its members demanded “A postponement in June and the elimination of the grand oral” , which many teachers feel they cannot prepare well.
A door open to certain abuses
But the main criticism is that of the breach of equality between the candidates. The continuous assessment reinforces the preponderance of the criterion of the “original high school” (and of its reputation), which is particularly discriminating in Parcoursup and which blocks the road to the future for many young people from provincial high schools and / or disadvantaged neighborhoods, regardless of the quality of their work.
The evaluation of candidates by their teachers, in their high school, is also an open door to certain abuses. Thus in 2020, when the terminal tests were abolished due to the pandemic and replaced by continuous monitoring, “Each establishment was able to do what it wanted”recalls Sophie Vénétitay. The transition to continuous monitoring “Was synonymous with small arrangements with the bac”, of “Notes produced by establishments without external control” , resulting in a historical success rate of 96%, the result of the sum of the wills of the establishments to be able to show their success above all else …
One more step towards the “local ferry”
Highlighting his demand for “Ensure equal treatment of candidates” and, at the same time, “Guarantee the level of their learning”with a view to their further studies, Jean-Michel Blanquer has admittedly announced the establishment, from the beginning of February, of two devices supposed to guarantee them. An “evaluation guide” will be sent to teachers and a “common framework” will be made available to the harmonization committees. We can doubt that this is enough to prevent this 2021 bac from taking one more step towards the “local bac” and the undermining of the national character of this diploma – whose establishment of Parcoursup has already considerably degraded the value of first. university degree. And this is how, behind the vagaries of the pandemic, the coherence between the minister’s opportunistic strategy and his deep objectives points.