Hot for Teacher’s Grade*

School begins in a few weeks, to the great joy and happiness of parents everywhere.

What does it take (what do you need) to be successful in American schools?

Being successful in an American school requires, as in other schools throughout the world, that you do your homework and study, of course.

But that is certainly not the only thing that helps determine how well you perform in school, at least as measured by your GPA.

GPA stands for “grade point average,” which is the combination of your grades from all of your classes. GPAs usually go from 0.0 (lowest) to 4.0 (highest).**

A 2009 research study found that there are other things that appear to influence teachers in determining student grades besides (in addition to) how well they do on their homework and examinations.

This isn’t too surprising, but what exactly are those things?

The researchers surveyed (asked) more than 20,000 high school students. They asked them to rate (give a grade or points) to each student on three factors (characteristics):

  • their attractiveness (whether they are good looking or not);
  • their grooming habits (whether they brush their hair, dress neatly, etc.); and
  • their overall personality (that is, if they are pleasant to be with, positive, easy to talk to, etc.).

The study found that these three factors did seem to influence student grades, or at least were associated (connected to) their grades.

But the specific factors were different for boys and girls.

For a boy, good grooming was correlated (associated with; related to) an increase in his grade.

Boys who were slovenly (messy, not neat with one’s clothing and hair) got significantly lower grades from teachers.

This was definitely me in school – very slovenly! Now I know why I got a poor grade in differential calculus and advanced physics.

For girls, having a pleasant personality was the most important factor correlated with grades. Good grooming was less important than it was for boys, perhaps because overall girls are more careful in their grooming than boys are.

Perhaps most interesting result in this study of American schools was the finding (a conclusion based upon the data of the study) that very attractive girls actually suffered a slight (small) decrease (drop) in grades because of their beauty.

This may be due to the fact that many teachers think that beautiful girls are somehow not very smart. Unfortunately, the study did not interview teachers to see what they said.

Do you think these three factors – attractiveness, grooming habits, and personality – affect or influence student grades in the schools where you live?


*To be hot for (someone) means to be sexually attracted to him/her. There was a controversial song when I was young called “Hot for Teacher.”

**Some schools now use GPAs higher than 4.0, but we won’t worry about those here.

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