New Brunswick

University of Moncton sees 25% of education students fail French exam

The University of Moncton wants to know why so many of its education students failed a French language proficiency test this year.

18 of 71 students required to leave program after not passing language proficiency test

The University of Moncton is looking to increase support for students after 18 of 71 education students failed a mandatory French language proficiency test and were forced to leave the program. (CBC)

The president of the student association for the education faculty at the University of Moncton says "everybody's angry" and wants answers after 25 per cent of students failed a French proficiency test and now have to leave the program.

The exam is a mandatory part of the five-year program.

This year, 18 out of 71 students, both anglophones and francophones, failed the test and have to leave the education program. 

Julie LeBlanc, who is a third-year student and president of the education faculty's student association, passed the test on her third and final attempt.

She said emotions are running high with so many students failing this year.

"Everybody's frustrated, everybody's angry, everybody wants answers," said LeBlanc.

LeBlanc said the test was "fairly challenging."

"We had never written any tests necessarily in that form before," said LeBlanc.

While there are practice tests, LeBlanc suggests there may not be enough of them.

"You have an idea of what you're walking into, but until you really write the exam you're not 100 per cent  sure what's going to be on it or how you'll do," said LeBlanc. 

Marianne Cormier, the university's dean of education, said the test has been mandatory for about four years.

"We had 100 per cent success rate in the first two years, in the third year we had 94 per cent success rate and this year for some reason we have 75 per cent," she said.

"We are trying to figure out what happened, but nothing changed in the test. The test is the same. If anything, they were offered more opportunities  to prepare for the test, so we are going to study that further."

Language is important in all aspects of learning, be it science, math.- Marianne Cormier

Cormier said the university is looking at offering more opportunities for students to prepare for the test in the future.

But the university official said dropping the test is not an option.

"In education, the language is really important and we have studies that demonstrate that as well," she said.

"Language is important in all aspects of learning, be it science, math. Very often you get the math question wrong, but it's because you didn't read the question well, so literacy is very important for us and we want to make sure that our students have adequate language competencies to teach."

Students have three opportunities to take the exam during the third year of the education program.

Third-year student Corrina Stiles failed the test. She said it is part of an agreement between the university and the province that allows graduates to teach in the francophone schools districts upon graduation.

But Stiles said she had always planned to teach in an anglophone district.

By the third year if you don't pass and you're kicked out of your degree then ... you've spent a lot of money- Corrina Stiles

"For an anglophone wishing, who always wished, to teach in the anglophone district of the province, I did not need this test," she said.

Stiles thinks students should have been told about the test long ago.

"I think we should know the minute that we're accepted into this degree that we're going to have to do this test," she said. "I think doing it in the third year is a little late."

Stiles understands that the extra time may help some people become more comfortable with French, but in her case she'll now have to switch to a new course of study.

"By the third year if you don't pass and you're kicked out of your degree then ... you've spent a lot of money, a lot of time a lot of work in this program and now you can't continue it."

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