Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

The Schooling They Need: Voicing Student Perspectives on Their Fourth Year in Senior High School

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

The Schooling They Need: Voicing Student Perspectives on Their Fourth Year in Senior High School

Article excerpt

This study used qualitative research methods to investigate the experiences of students who returned to senior high school for a fourth year in order to graduate. By drawing on student voices, this collaborative research partnership with students revealed that a fourth year of high school led to stigmatization and alienation of students and often did not address students' personal situations, their learning needs, or their need to graduate. Students identified desired changes in three areas: (a) school scheduling, flexibility, and graduation; (b) issues of teaching, learning, and curriculum; and (c) student desires for respect, belonging, and partnership. Implications of these findings for learners and educators are discussed.

Key words: fourth-year students, student voice, youth voice, high school completion, hermeneutic research, strength-based research

Faisant appel a des methodes de recherche qualitative, les auteurs ont analyse les experiences d'eleves qui sont retournes au deuxieme cycle du secondaire pour y effectuer une quatrieme annee en vue d'obtenir leur diplome. Les temoignages recueillis aupres de ces eleves au cours de cette recherche revelent qu'une quatrieme annee au deuxieme cycle du secondaire a pour effet de jeter du discredit sur eux et souvent ne repond pas a leur situation personnelle ou a leurs besoins quant a l'apprentissage ou a l'obtention de leur diplome. Les eleves ont identifie trois domaines a ameliorer : (a) l'horaire des cours, la souplesse de l'ecole et l'obtention du diplome, (b) l'enseignement, l'apprentissage et le curriculum et c) la satisfaction des besoins des eleves en termes de respect, de partenariat et de sentiment d'appartenance. Les implications de ces observations pour les apprenants et les enseignants sont discutees.

Mots cles : quatrieme annee au deuxieme cycle du secondaire, temoignages d'eleves, temoignages de jeunes, fin du secondaire, recherche hermeneutique, recherche axee sur les points forts.


Research studies at provincial, national, and international levels have consistently shown that higher levels of educational attainment--from grade school through post-secondary education--lead to greater attachment to the labour force (i.e., greater labour force participation, lower unemployment), reduced levels of reliance on income support programs, higher earnings, and higher job satisfaction (Canadian Council on Learning, 2008; Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, 2005; Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2009). In addition to labour market advantages, many important societal benefits are associated with having a more highly educated citizenry, such as positive health outcomes, civic participation, and community engagement (Junor & Usher, 2004). Unfortunately, many youth face the possibility of not completing high school because of personal, socio-cultural, academic, and/or economic challenges. In comparison to high school graduates, youth who leave school without graduating are less likely to find employment or to get "good jobs" as determined by such factors as wages, hours, future promotion prospects, work relationships. They are more likely to earn lower incomes and have less secure employment; the stress of early school leaving can also constrain the ability of youth to cope with life stresses and to lead healthy lifestyles (Looker & Thiessen, 2008).

Although the overall high school graduation rate in Canada has increased in recent years, high school completion remains elusive for about one-quarter of Canadian youth (Blouin, 2008). Across Canada, public schooling systems allow students who do not graduate within the prescribed high school completion timeframe to return for one or more years to complete graduation requirements. In the province of Newfoundland and Labrador (NL), many students who do not complete the provincial graduation requirements after three years of senior high school opt to return to school for a fourth year (labelled "Level IV") in an effort to graduate. …

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