A child’s reputation, attitude, social background, parents and even their sex can influence how generously or severely they are marked, leading to some pupils being unfairly treated.
A report published out by researcher into educational science Andre Antibi found that schools with a high percentage of poor pupils are more generous with their marks than those with a reputation for excellence which are keen to maintain their reputations.
He also discovered that teachers mentally divide their pupils into ‘good’, ‘average’ and ‘poor’ and generally give those they consider ‘good’ higher marks than average and poor students, especially in French, maths and philosophy.
A teacher’s attitude to the pupil also influences their marking, with pupils considered to be well-behaved getting higher marks as do those from a better social background. Good-looking pupils also get higher marks as do girls as they are considered more conscientious and co-operative.
Pupils who have redoubled tend to be given lower marks.
Teachers have admitted that Antibi’s findings are probably true, saying that it is almost impossible to remain 100% objective however much they try. If a student has been disruptive in class, for example, or is always texting or sprawls across the desk, it is difficult not to let this influence you when marking their work.
However, an extra mark either way can make the difference between bac grades and affect your post bac career. So, while it is easy to lose marks, it is also easy to gain an extra mark or two.
Here's a teachers’ guide, compiled by l'Etudiant, on how to gain, rather than lose, marks:
So keep your work clean, well-spaced, well-organised and above all legible. Using a ruler to underline and avoiding ink smudges, organising annotations neatly can all be worth an extra point or two.
Attitude in lessons how to win points: Teachers generally want to encourage conscientious students. 'Even if the answers are much the same I will always reward a hard-working student over one who makes no effort. Even if it's just an extra half mark, these can add up over time.'
and how to lose points: Pupils with don't-care attitudes, who talk and text in class, who are argumentative or aggressive annoy teachers even more than pupils who don't work or who cheat. If you've put the teacher in a bad mood during the day, it's hard for them not to reflect this when marking your work.
Appearance Teachers may look pretty bizarre themselves sometimes but this doesn't stop them getting annoyed by pupils' appearances - pupils who wear caps pulled over their faces, who refuse to take off their coats in class, for example, can prejudice a teacher enough to hand out a poor mark.
Reputation A bad reputation can be hard to shake off as at the beginning of the new school year as teachers will ask other teachers about pupils they don't know. 'I'll try not to let what another teacher tells me influence my own judgement but still, if I have been warned a pupil is disruptive or cheats, for example, it is true I will have my eye on them. Pupils should not underestimate staff room gossip.'
Nevertheless, it is worth trying and right now is a good time to start, especially if you had a bad year last year. 'Just because I've been given a bad impression of a pupil doesn't mean I want it confirmed.'
How can parents help? If you feel that a certain teacher really has it in for you and you are going to get bad marks all year, you could ask your parents to intervene. However, parents must be tactful. Ask for advice on understanding the situation and how you might help your child to do better.
'Teachers divide parents into two types - those who want advice and those who want to complain. With the first we try and help find solutions. The second type complain that their child is very clever, bored in class etc. I don't give way but then I end up with a pupil who does nothing but know's he's covered.'
a few more tips worth noting:Extra curricular activities are not an excuse for failing to complete schoolwork and will not be taken into consideration when marking. However, it's still a good idea to let teachers know if you are heavily involved in sport/music/theatre etc. as they may help you better organise your timetable and, exceptionally, allow a piece of work to be delivered late. They will also understand why homework is sometimes late and this may change their attitude to a pupil they thought was slacking.
Private lessons - some teachers take it as a criticism if you have extra lessons but by and large they will encourage a pupil taking extra lessons if they are still working hard in class as it demonstrates their commitment. A pupil, on the other hand, who uses private lessons as an excuse to do nothing in class will seriously annoy a teacher.
Difficulties at home - won't persuade teachers to mark you more generously but if they are aware of any particular difficulties it can change their attitude and make them more encouraging to boost a pupil's confidence. In other words, the marks may not change, but the teachers' comments, which are also important, may be more positive if they know that a student is having a rough time.