Dropout rates and poverty: still some way to go!

Dropping out of school is a much more serious problem for students from disadvantaged areas. Poverty increases the risk of dropping out of school, which in turn increases the risk of living in poverty. To break this vicious circle, in 2002 the Ministry of Education, Leisure and Sport introduced the New Approaches, New Solutions (Agir autrement) intervention strategy. The Groupe de recherche sur les environnements scolaires (School Environment Research Group), directed by Michel Janosz from Université de Montréal, was mandated to evaluate the strategy's effectiveness. This evaluation was based on data collected from more than 30,000 students and 4,000 staff members at 77 secondary schools every year from 2002 to 2008. 

For the first time in 20 years of government intervention in Quebec, a rigorous evaluation has indicated which actions to maintain, adjust or abandon in order to reduce the school dropout rate. The researchers discovered that in spite of the new strategy, many schools largely continued what they were already doing. Why? Mainly because they lacked the expertise and tools to adequately support the decisions and changes to be implemented. Furthermore, the strategy included certain very complex tasks and pursued too many objectives, in addition to requiring a more active use of research-based information and a greater mobilization of personnel. 

This analysis resulted in 13 recommendations being drawn up concerning the components of the strategy to be maintained or revised and the conditions to gather and consolidate for successful implementation of the strategy. The recommendations include a call on the Ministry and the school boards to increase their capacity to support the development of expertise in schools, and focus this support on the mobilization of personnel and the implementation of practices known to be effective.


Groupe de recherche sur les environnements scolaires


Michel Janosz, Université de Montréal

Regular members

  • Isabelle Archambault, Université de Montréal 
  • Thérèse Bouffard, Université du Québec à Montréal 
  • Roch Chouinard, Université de Montréal 
  • Linda S. Pagani, Université de Montréal 
  • Sophie Parent, Université de Montréal 
  • Carole Vezeau, Cégep régional de Lanaudière - L'Assomption