The French baccalauréat’s new format marks a turning point in the French educational system. This version of the baccalauréat (bac) aspires to be more just and more balanced for students. Now using contrôle continu (or continuous assessment), the bac takes into account grades awarded in most subjects throughout senior year, and those from a handful of other subjects during both junior and senior year. Ultimately, this means that the end-of-year exams are no longer the singular event marking the end of high school.
The biggest change to the bac format is the elimination of the various sections. Long gone are the L, ES, and S tracks. Instead, 11th graders choose specialty subjects (or majors) they can take alongside core subjects such as French, math, and English. For example, LILA offers social sciences (economics), cinematic arts, and biology. All of these are complemented by the new Grand oral, an exam which aims to evaluate oral expression and analytical skills in one of the specialty subjects.
Some traditions do, however, remain: the French exam is still administered at the end of 11th grade and philosophy continues to be an integral part of 12th grade. The end-of-year exams account for 60% of students’ final bac score, while the grades from throughout 11th and 12th grade represent the remaining 40% of their score.
The French baccalauréat remains a valued and internationally recognized program, opening doors to universities and colleges in France and around the world. For students, the bac represents not only the final chapter in a 15-year journey but also a rite of passage. Beyond its purely academic merits, the baccalauréat holistically prepares students for life beyond high school.
The first year of the new baccalauréat was not without surprises, however; COVID-19 impacted the implementation of the reform. Thanks to the leadership of Emmanuelle Acker, Head of French Studies (6-12) and French Exam Coordinator, LILA adapted. For the first time ever, the Burbank campus became a testing center. This required the School to “liaise with the testing center in Washington as well as other schools like ours in North America,” explained Emmanuelle Acker, conductor of the operation.
To complete this mission without a hiccup, the entire administration mobilized. “Madame Acker deserves a medal for the work she did,” said Anneli Harvey, Burbank Campus Director. “Our heads of department, Emmanuelle Acker, Faizal Emamaullee, Laurence Leroy, and Julien Rivière, provided essential guidance to our teachers. In turn, the teachers played a key role in the preparations for the Grand oral.”
In the end, our students worked tirelessly and their results clearly reflected their efforts: 100% of our French bac cohort received their diplomas with honors.
Written by Guillaume Serina – Teacher & Community Outreach Coordinator