Evaluating pupils all throughout the year is organised primarily in the form of written tests, according to a variable frequency that is generally left to the pedagogical appreciation of the teachers. Along with the traditional tests, "mock examinations" are organised during the final year. These are intended to train the pupils more specifically for the baccalauréat exams. These tests however have no systematic or restrictive nature.
The pupils' results are sent to the families via the three-month report which contains the results and the comments in the various subjects.
The positioning test in Seconde
Since 2018, all pupils of Grade 10 (“Seconde”) in general and technological education in public or private education under contract have been subject to standardised assessments at the beginning of the school year, known as the "Positioning Test". The placement test at the beginning of the lycée is the first stage of personalised support, which enables lycée students to consolidate their mastery of written and oral expression and essential mathematical skills.
The placement test at the beginning of the second year of secondary school includes two 50-minute tests, organised during the second half of September. The skills assessed are:
- Understanding how the language works
- Reading comprehension
- Listening comprehension
- Organisation and data management
- Numbers and calculation
- Geometry (especially reasoning geometry)
- Literal calculation (especially algebraic expressions)
The correction is automated. The results are communicated to the students. They are totally anonymous outside the school.
Progression of Pupils
The procedures for transitioning from one class to another in the lycée are the same as in collège. The reform of the LGT implemented in September 2010 introduced the possibility, for public and private lycées, to organise "refresher courses" in order to prevent repeating a year. These courses "are intended for volunteer pupils of the general and technological lycées and professional lycées to whom the class council has recommended taking such courses. These concern pupils from second class to the ending class". Institutions can organise these courses during the school holidays and/or during the school year, whenever it seems to be necessary.
The end of upper secondary studies is sanctioned by the baccalauréat. This diploma, which was created by the decree of 17 March 1808, also conditions access to higher studies and represents the first university grade.
There are three types of baccalauréat, corresponding to the three paths of studies in the lycée:
- general baccalauréat;
- technological baccalauréat;
- vocational baccalauréat.
The general and technological baccalauréats are very clearly oriented for continuing with higher education (university, preparatory classes for the grandes écoles, advanced vocational courses, technological university institutes).
In order to obtain the baccalauréat, pupils must take a national examination.
Written and oral examinations
The baccalauréat includes compulsory written and oral examinations which have variable coefficients according to the series. It also includes optional examinations. The exams generally cover the official curricula of the ending classes.
The great majority of the examinations are taken at the end of the ending year. However, certain exams are organised in advance in the first class (this is the case with French, for example). Others are taken as a test during training: this is the case, for example for physical and sports education.
The baccalauréat examination includes two groups of exams:
- the examinations in the first group: written, oral, practical, according to the series. At the end of these exams, candidates who have obtained an average less than 8/20 are rejected. Those who have obtained an average of 10/20 or more are declared as definitively admitted to the so-called second group of exams. Those who have obtained an average between 8/20 and 10/20 are allowed to take these exams.
- the examinations in the second group involve two oral exams chosen by the candidate from among those that were subject to a written test passed in first year in anticipation or in the ending year. The candidate passes if he obtains, at the end of these oral exams, an average of 10/20 or more on all of the exams.
The "rather good" (AB), "good" (B) and "very good" (TB) honours are given to candidates that obtain the baccalauréat, according to the average obtained. The rule is as follows: AB honour: average greater than or equal to 12/20 and less than 14/20 (26% of pupils at the 2017 session); B honour: average greater than or equal to 14/20 and less than 16/20 (14% of pupils in 2017); TB honour: average greater than or equal to 16/20 (8% of pupils in 2017).
During their deliberations, the juries have the candidate's school report book as an element for assessment: the book contains, for the two first and ending years, the averages of the scores by subject as well as the teachers' comments. The careful review of this document by the juries takes on a special significance when the average of the scores obtained by a candidate place him at a level that is close to the one that determines a result.
Organisation of sessions and juries
Months of preparation are needed to organise the baccalauréat, for which the responsibility falls, on the one hand, to the central administration of the Department of National Education and Youth as well as its inspection bodies and on the other hand, to the various decentralised departments.
The unfolding of the examination, which spreads out primarily from mid-June to the beginning of July, includes a session, organised each year on the dates set by the Department of National Education, Higher Education and Research. A replacement session is organised in September, under the same conditions, for candidates who, for duly observed reasons of a force majeure, did not take the exams at the end of the school year, either entirely or partially.
The juries are formed from an academic standpoint by the recteur (chief education officer). The president of each jury is a teacher of higher education, the vice-president is a secondary school teacher who has passed the Agrégation. The examiners must satisfy certain conditions in terms of their title, as well as a certain number of years of teaching ending classes.
The sovereign nature of the jury is the guarantee of its independence. The decisions of the jury are of a final nature. No intervention and no recourse is available to convene the candidate again, or cause a change to the decision if it was made in accordance with the regulatory texts.
The results for the first group are known on a date that is decided each year, usualy during the first week of July. The pupils who did not pass the examination but are above 8/20 on average have to go through a second batch of oral examination. The results of the second group are known around the 10th of July. Grades are enough of a proof that the pupil did pass the Baccalauréat, and thus are a valid certificate to enrol into higher education. There is no official graduation ceremony.
Development and selection of examination topics
The topics distributed to the candidates are the result of a process that began more than a year beforehand:
- the Department distributes the development process of the topics by subject for the following year session between académies.
- in each académie, the examination divisions set up topic choice commissions which are presided jointly by a school inspector and an academician. The members of these commissions are lycée teachers, designated by the recteur, as suggested by the authorised regional pedagogical inspector.
- each commission develops several topics. Then, each topic is submitted separately to two teachers (who have not participated in the work of the commission) in charge of doing them within a period of time that is less than that given to the candidates on the day of the examination. These teachers, called "test teachers", give their opinion on the feasibility and the interest of the topic and detect any errors. The topics are modified, if needed, in order to take the test teachers' comments into account.
- for each topic, the two co-presidents of the commission prepare and remit a dossier to the recteur of the académie comprised of one topic written in its final form, reports from the test teachers and a report from the co-presidents certifying compliance with current regulations and suggesting its conclusion. Afterwards, the recteur makes the final choice on the subjects and their assignment.
- the document containing the final version of the topics is signed by the inspector general and the academician presidents of each commission.