05 SES 01, Combatting Underachievement and Criminality
School failure is a complex phenomenon (Fernandes, 1991; Mendonça, 2006), as it may refer to various types of failure. It may be caused by personal, social, economic, cultural, regional/geographic and institutional/school factors (Ferguson, Tilleczek, Boydell, & Rummens, 2005; Dale, 2010). In general, we may state that school failure occurs when students do not attain the goals set out by the school and the teachers (Rangel, 1994). This may take place either at the instruction/theoretical and technical knowledge level or at the socialisation level (Araújo, Sousa, Costa, Loureiro, & Portela, 2012; Costa, Loureiro, Marques, & Araújo, 2013). In the first case, we have, as the more frequent indicators, the failures per school year, per study cycle, per educational grade, and the negative grades per course, among others. In the second case, we have, as indicators of failure, deviant behaviours, which may lead to indiscipline and its corrective measures. Besides these indicators, we also have the one that we consider to be, similarly to other authors, although under slightly different perspectives, the global indicator of failure: early school dropout (Sil, 2004; Justino, 2010; Ferreira, Félix, & Perdigão, 2015). This problem has been a concern for the governments of the different countries from the European Union, which intend to reduce early school dropout to less than 10% by 2020, which is seen as a way to prevent unemployment, poverty and social exclusion (EC, 2010).
Failure in terms of negative school outcomes, which leads to student failure, still has some dimension in Portugal, and particularly in the Douro region, located in the north of the country. This fact led us to question the extent of failure in primary and secondary education in this region and the courses where it had higher figures, that is, those in which students failed more in the evaluation carried out by teachers at the end of the school year and in the evaluation of compulsory written exams in the 6th and 9th grades (primary education) and in the 11th and 12th grades (secondary education). Thus, although the objectives of the study that frame this presentation have been broader, the ones presented herein consist of verifying the rates of school failure in primary and secondary education in the Douro region (using as indicators the failure and dropout rates in primary and secondary education, according to official data from the Ministry of Education), verifying the courses in which the students of the Douro primary and secondary education had negative classifications, and proposing educational actions of intervention in school failure according to the diagnosis carried out.
The geographic area of this study is the area of the Douro Inter-municipal Community (CIM Douro), which aggregates 19 municipalities and their Groupings of Schools and Non-grouped Schools (24 in total), which were our units of analysis. So as to answer the guiding questions of the study and, thus, fulfil the objectives set out, we consulted and analysed the most recent documents issued by the Ministry of Education on failure in education per school years in the country, in the north of Portugal and in the CIM Douro region, Reports of the General Inspection of Education and Science, and documents of the Groupings of Schools and Non-grouped Schools, such as educational projects and strategic plans of action, among others. For a more detailed and in-depth understanding of the statistical data on school failure provided by the documents and, also, for the analysis of intervention proposals that seek to overcome the phenomenon under study, we carried out open interviews to the education councillors of the 19 CIM Douro municipalities and to the directors of the various Groupings of Schools and Non-grouped Schools of the Douro region, some of whom were accompanied by teachers. There were 19 sessions of collective interviews conducted between March 1 and 8, 2017 to the key informants referred to. Data collection and analysis was carried out according to the following dimensions of analysis: degree of failure, comparing the results of the Douro region with those of the North of the country and those of Portugal; comparative analysis of the data between the different municipalities of the Douro Region; study cycles and courses in which the results were more critical; and measures/actions to be recommended to try to overcome the problem.
On the basis of the conducted diagnosis, we were able to verify that, in the 2014/2015 school year – the most recent year with statistical data in the official documents – school failure in CIM Douro was significant: 6.6% in primary education and 15.6% in secondary education. The percentage of school failure recorded in this region was similar to that of the same year in the north of Portugal (6.7%), but higher in secondary education, inasmuch as in the North it was 14%. In that school year, six of the CIM Douro municipalities had failure/dropout rates in primary education above 10%. Of these, two had rates above 15%. Regarding secondary education, nine municipalities had rates of 16% or more and two of these had rates of 23% or higher. They are the same two municipalities that presented the highest rates in primary education. Notwithstanding this, the percentages recorded in CIM Douro were lower than those of Portugal as a whole (7.8% in primary education and 16.4% in secondary education). For these, the negative results of students in Mathematics, Portuguese and Sciences were important contributors. Aiming at a pedagogical intervention in this problem and considering the data of the interviews to the educational actors, we proposed a set of measures/actions, such as: the creation of laboratories of Sciences and Foreign Languages; support, counselling and tutoring; increasing in the use of information and communication technologies in the teaching and learning process; parental education; teachers’ continuous training; and sharing of good practices between schools from different municipalities, among others, which started being implemented in the current school year.
Araújo, Helena C., Sousa, Florbela, Loureiro, Armando, Costa, Isabel, & Portela, José (2012). Building local networking in education?: Decision-makers’ discourses on school achievement and dropout in Portugal. In Béatrice Boufoy-Bastick (Ed.), The international handbook of cultures of education policy, Vol. I: Comparative international issues in policy-outcome relationships: Achievement with family and community involvement (pp. 155-185). Strasbourg: Analytrics. Costa, Isabel, Loureiro, Armando, Silva, Silva, & Araújo, Helena (2013). Perspectives of portuguese municipal education officers on school disengagemen. Educação, Sociedade & Culturas, 40, 165-185. Dale, R. (2010). Early school leaving: Lessons from research and policy makers practice. NESSE. Retrieved from http://www.nesse.fr/nesse/activities/reports Direção Geral de Estatísticas da Educação e Ciência, Direção de Serviços de Estatísticas da Educação, Divisão de Estatísticas do Ensino Básico e Secundário (2016). Regiões em Números 2014-2015: Norte (Vol. I). Lisbon: DGEEC. Direção Geral de Estatísticas da Educação e Ciência, Direção de Serviços de Estatísticas da Educação, Divisão de Estatísticas do Ensino Básico e Secundário. (2016). Educação em Números: Portugal 2016. Lisbon: DGEEC. Direção Geral de Estatísticas da Educação e Ciência, Direção de Serviços de Estatísticas da Educação, Divisão de Estatísticas do Ensino Básico e Secundário, Divisão de Estatística do Ensino Superior (2016). Perfil do Alunos 2014/2015. Lisboa: DGEEC. European Commission (2010). Reducing early school leaving: Accompanying document to the proposal for a Council recommendation on policies to reduce early school leaving. Brussels. Retrieved from http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_SDDS/EN/edat_esms.htm Ferguson, B., Tilleczek, K., Boydell, K., & Rummens, J. (2005). Early school leavers: Understanding the lived reality of student disengagement from secondary school. Toronto: CHSRG/HSC/OMET. Fernandes, A. (1991). O insucesso escolar. In E. Pires, A. S. Fernandes, & J. Formosinho, A construção social da educação escolar (pp. 187-213). Rio Tinto: Ed. Asa. Justino, D. (2010). Difícil é éducá-los. Lisbon: Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos and Relógio D’Água Editores. Mendonça, A. (2006). A problemática do insucesso escolar: A escolaridade obrigatória no arquipélago da Madeira em finais do século XX (1994-2000) (Unpublisehd doctoral thesis). University of Madeira, Funchal, Portugal. Rangel, A. (1994). Insucesso escolar. Lisbon: Horizontes Pedagógicos and Instituto Piaget. Sil, V. (2004). Alunos em situação de insucesso escolar. Lisbon: Horizontes Pedagógicos and Instituto Piaget.
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