Was the certificate already mandatory for high school entrance?

Gabriel Attal brings a new stone to patent history. On Tuesday, December 5, the Minister of Education announced that, starting from 2025, the DNB (National Brevet Diploma) will become a real high school entrance exam. Students who do not receive this valuable pass will no longer be able to proceed directly to second grade. “They will be directed to classes.” preparation for high schools “intended” catch up », before participating in the second cycle of secondary studies. With this reform, the Minister gives a brand new function to this exam held in the third grade. In fact, in the past, the patent had never served as a passing test.

Until the secondary education college founded by General de Gaulle in 1963, there were three separate schools in France, leading to three different diplomas. Among these we find the patent as well as the bachelor’s degree and the labor certificate. From the end of 19to From the 19th century to the first half of the 20th century, almost all students started studying in the municipal school at the age of 6. The majority then stayed there until the age of 14 to prepare for their school certificate. “ These young people entered the job market directly », explains Claude Lelièvre, a historian specializing in education.

Only good students passed the certificate

In municipal schools, the most deserving were selected to attend complementary school, also called senior primary school, at the age of 11. “ Claude Lelièvre explains that the certificate was prepared in these schools: “This allowed the person to work in mid-level professions, such as a teacher, accountant or junior manager in the post office. The exam was therefore never used to confirm the passage to high school, but instead confirmed the termination of education.”

A small number of students would eventually prepare for the baccalaureate in colleges or high schools. At the time, the distinction between these institutions was merely administrative: secondary schools were run by municipalities, while high schools were affiliated with the state. According to Claude Lelièvre, the students who joined them “mostly those from particularly deserving or privileged backgrounds. » These institutions offer the same education, delivered in a single cycle and extending up to stage 6.to in the final year. “Getting a certificate for students continuing up to the baccalaureate is still not mandatory today, nor was it compulsory. However, some students preferred to take it for security reasons. adds the historian.

The French school system gradually became standardized. In 1963, General de Gaulle founded the secondary education college. Now, secondary school constitutes the first stage and high school constitutes the second stage. Young people may discontinue their education after university and possibly after passing their certification. At that time, a diploma still opened the doors to a certain number of professions. “ It allows you to take certain civil service exams and work at lower levels, for example in the post office or on the railways.», explains Claude Lelièvre. General de Gaulle’s courses were abolished in 1975, and in the following years fewer and fewer students dropped out before high school. The patent then begins to be depreciated. “Even if you missed it in the late 70s, you might want to switch to second gear.», explains Claude Lelièvre. In 1977 the examination was finally abolished and replaced by continuous assessment assessment.

The patent becomes a preliminary examination

The patent would be recreated in 1986 by Jean-Pierre Chevènement. “ At that time, the minister also wanted to raise the university level. He puts forward the idea that students should prepare for the baccalaureate by taking the first exam in third grade. », explains the historian. Only three subjects were currently assessed: mathematics, history and French. The new patent is a difficult exam. “ Only half of students pass this exam in the first year » adds the historian. However, success rates increase over the years. This rate, which was 74.2% in 1995, increased to 77% in 2000, then to 83% in 2011 and to 85% in 2015. After a record year of 90.5% in 2020, the patent success rate increased to 87.5% and 89.1% in 2022. In 2023.

These successive increases can be explained, in particular, by the increasing presence of continuous assessment in grading and the inclusion of a greater number of subjects in assessments, such as sports or classroom life. “From 2012 part of the grade is also based on assessment of skills, which are verified by teachers in the class council and then converted into points.», explains Claude Lelièvre. For the historian, this logic of evaluation still corresponded to the logic of a final examination. “We evaluated what the student learned at the end of a cycle. After this, The goal is no longer to let the student drop out of school, but to determine whether he or she can move on to high school.“, he continues. And in conclusion: “This completely changes the nature of the patent.”

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