The Epreuve Cantonales de Référence (ECR)

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What are The Epreuve Cantonales de Référence?

If you are the parent of a child in the Swiss Romande primary system, you will probably know that in the 4th and 8th year of primary school (4P and 8P), your child will take formal assessments known as The Epreuve Cantonales de Référence or ECR.

Here at TutorsPlus, it is usually about this time of year that we start getting requests for tuition to support children as these assessments approach.

So, what better time to grill an actual real life Swiss schoolteacher about what to expect? She is is not only a teacher in a local school here in Geneva, but also a mother of 3 children. Even better, 2 of them have already taken their first The Epreuve Cantonales de Référence.

pre teens smiling

What does the ECR test?

Part 1

In 4P, the exam tests students on French and Maths, and in 8P, French, Maths, and German.

The French part of the assessment is divided into 2 parts: Essentially reading comprehension and writing. In fact, the types of tasks students may be given include: A test of reading a text and then answering multiple choice questions. Asking the students to copy out a text in order to assess handwriting. Then, labelling words as Singular, Plural, Masculine, or Feminine. Finally, circling the words containing an indicated sound.

dad and daughter studying

Part 2

In part 2, students are often given images and a list of key words which they must use to write a few sentences describing the pictures.
For the Maths element, students will be expected to know how to organise numbers from the smallest to the biggest and how to solve simple mathematical problems of addition and subtraction.
The 8P tests consist of French, German and Maths.
The French is 1 hour 30 minutes and is divided into 2 parts: Reading comprehension and writing. The German part lasts 1 hour 20 mins and is divided into listening (20 minutes) and reading (1 hour.) Finally, the Maths is divided into part 1 (calculations – 20 minutes), and part 2 – solving problems using a calculator, compass, protractor etc (65 minutes.)

When do the tests take place?

Usually at the start of May. Parents get the results at the end of May/start of June.
Who marks the test? The class teacher marks the test and gives your child one of the following possible results:
largement atteint (LA) (fully achieved)
atteint avec aisance (AA) (achieved with ease)
atteint (A) (achieved)
partiellement atteint (PA) (partially achieved)
non atteint (NA) (not achieved.)
Good to know.

How is it assessed?

The teacher we spoke to was at pains to stress that these tests should not be a stressful event for your child. For the 4P tests in particular, teachers carry out the tests without the children even really knowing they are being assessed. They take place in the usual classroom, with the children at their usual desks. The 8P tests are slightly more formal (although exactly how they are carried out varies slightly from school to school). However, great care is still taken to ensure that this is not a stressful event for the students.

Do children need to repeat the year?

Our contact also explained that the results of the Epreuve Cantonale alone would not cause a child to have to retake the year. The ECR is one factor amongst a number that gives the teacher an indication of how your child is doing. Any student not progressing as necessary would have already had this flagged and the parents would be aware.

So, in a nutshell, there will be no nasty surprises!

pre teens jumping for joy

Useful Links:

First here is the Plan des Études Romandes (PER) curriculum, from the the French speaking cantons. You can find out more here.

Secondly, here is the website of the “Department D’Instruction Publique” (DIP) containing a lot of very useful information. Click here to access it.

Et voilà! Good luck to all the 4P and 8P children taking the Epreuve Cantonale this May.

Remember, TutorsPlus has a fantastic team of primary tutors amongst their team – please feel free to reach out to us if your child could benefit from tuition. Click here to find a tutor.
(+41) 022 731 81 48

By Liz McEwan

Liz is a teacher and student advisor. As well as working in the U.K, she has also had international roles in education. Now she combines her work as a Client Manager for TutorsPlus with writing for a number of expat publications.

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