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USA Education system

USA Education system

Old Oct 26th 2014, 10:02 pm
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Default USA Education system

Can someone explain the USA education system to me briefly...
For example what is the equivelent examinations or levels they study at?
Like in UK our kids do KS1 then KS2 and KS3 and so on....
I cannot find much info apart from the "grading" system which only tells me the year they are in?...

how are they assessed?...
what equivelent to GCSEs do they have?
thanks!
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Old Oct 26th 2014, 11:07 pm
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Default Re: USA Education system

Originally Posted by Goodlad View Post
I cannot find much info apart from the "grading" system which only tells me the year they are in?...
That's pretty much all there is to it.

There's no national curriculum.

It's all cumulative grade scores based on study that leads to a GPA.

Education: What do I need to enroll the kids in school? : British Expat Wiki

The wiki article here has a little more info, though it's a bit more general.
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Old Oct 26th 2014, 11:20 pm
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Default Re: USA Education system

Start at around age 5 in K and go through up to grade 12 with the last 4 years of school being the most important for college and the future.

Education varies state to state, and there is no consistent system nationwide, some states are better then others, and some school districts are better then others.

You will need to narrow down where you will be living, and research the school and schools that will be available to you to really know how things work.
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Old Oct 26th 2014, 11:23 pm
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Default Re: USA Education system

Originally Posted by Goodlad View Post
Can someone explain the USA education system to me briefly...
For example what is the equivelent examinations or levels they study at?
Like in UK our kids do KS1 then KS2 and KS3 and so on....
I cannot find much info apart from the "grading" system which only tells me the year they are in?...

how are they assessed?...
what equivelent to GCSEs do they have?
thanks!
How old are your kids?
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Old Oct 27th 2014, 5:44 am
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Default Re: USA Education system

Comparing US and UK education systems is a bit like comparing apples and oranges. There are just too many differences. Having said that my GCSEs were evaluated at the same level as the US High School Diploma.

A brief run down of the US system:
Elementary School is Kindergarten through 5th grade (6th grade in some states/areas). Each state decides its own compulsory starting age. In my state of Texas 1st grade (6yo) is the first compulsory year. Elementary School would be the English equivalent of Primary School with usually having one primary teacher teaching all subjects.
Middle School (or Junior High) is 6th-8th grade (or sometimes 7th-8th grade). It corresponds to Year 7 through Year 9 in the UK. Students start choosing electives and being dividing into regular classes or AP (advanced) classes and, like the UK, have a different teacher for each subject.
High School is 9th grade through 12th grade. During High School students must take specific classes for "credit". Students have to pass a minimum number of credits in order to graduate high school (typically around 24-26 credits). Their grade for each class (A=4.0, B=3.0, C=2.0, etc.) is scored cumulatively to form a GPA. The high school diploma is the equivalent of UK GCSEs though in the US a high school diploma is typically completed at 18yo whereas GCSEs are typically completed at 16yo.
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Old Oct 27th 2014, 8:03 am
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Default Re: USA Education system

Generally the students don't have pass / fail exams at different age levels but have assessments throughout their schooling that is fed back to you and scored across the school (so you can compare this school vs. another).

Each state is given the right to create their own curriculum, but most states have adopted what is known as the "common core" as a guide, with variations off of that (and it is somewhat controversial).

Some states have an exam for finishing high school, but generally a diploma is given after you complete a certain number of credits over the four years. For example you must take XX class of math, science, English, foreign language, etc but then you are allowed YY hours of electives. In some schools you can even push it a bit and graduate in 3 or 3.5 years instead of the traditional 4. Each school has it's own set up so you'll need to research the district in which you live.

For those going on to college (aka university) there are two different tests offered your called the SAT and the ACT. These are your placement exams which, when coupled with your GPA in high school, are probably the two most important pieces of the admissions puzzle.
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Old Oct 27th 2014, 8:54 am
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Default Re: USA Education system

Hi kids are aged 11 and 8
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Old Oct 27th 2014, 9:32 am
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Default Re: USA Education system

Originally Posted by Goodlad View Post
Hi kids are aged 11 and 8
Hi, you have got good info already but your 11-year old will probably be starting middle school (it does vary by area), not sure when you're actually moving, if it's imminent they'll probably be starting at the same time as the other kids moving from elementary so that will be a plus.

Looking ahead to high school, as others have said, graduating high school is a basic level of achievement. If they want to go to college it is a dizzying combination of GPA, tests like SAT and ACT (may well change by then) AP (college level) classes and tests, community service, sport and so on.
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Old Oct 27th 2014, 5:54 pm
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Default Re: USA Education system

Have also been looking into this and college as we are at the stage of deciding whether to head back for our eldest education (she is nearly 13 and in grade 8 middle school) as she would choose options for GCSE next year in the UK. So apologies for the long post but I am in the thick of navigating the systems at the moment and hope this maybe of use to you. It can appear foggy at times.

We have been over here for 2 1/2 yrs and decided because we thought we would be over for a limited period of time (3 1/2 yrs when we came over) to keep our kids at the same level as in the UK. i.e in the UK children start one year earlier than here. So we have a grade 4 (8yr) grade 6 (10 yr) and grade 8 (12 1/2) kids and all our kids are young for their grade but have coped very well both academically and socially. My personal opinion is that the education they have been receiving is more rote learning and less conceptual learning. You have more flexibility about putting them in the grade that works for them here than I had experienced in the UK. Our kids are all at public schools here not private. In addition what I am learning is there is no real comparative across Europe and the US. You can do the international baccalaureate here in this state (south Carolina) in the public system so if you are thinking about swapping between systems then that could be a good option.

To add to another person's post if your child is academically capable then there are a lot of options for studying at a higher level - advanced placement courses in high school and dual credit courses. These usually (as does the IB program) require exams which are externally verified and therefore more likely to be recognized back in the UK.

Also in this state there is a gifted and talented program. The kids are assessed at grade 2 but you can request it if you move into the area (our eldest did it in grade 7) all the way through into middle school. Our kids are not super bright and were average students back home but got through this no problem and it has helped them with 1/2 day of conceptual learning in elementary that happens in school with a group of kids and then it also helped towards the streaming that goes on in middle school for all the academic subjects.

I am sure it's just me but the system over here feels a lot more complicated, a lot more able to help kids who are doing well and foster competition and academic learning if a child wants to go down this route and also support those who struggle. Our schools are all integrated with kids who have special education needs and those who do not which brings a real world feel to my kids education. If education is important to you it is worth doing some research locally on how it works as I am finding as my eldest moves into the high school bracket if she is not on top of what subjects to study and what grade point scores she will need she may miss out on opportunities.

Our state has a poor record compared with others for education and I have been really impressed as it was a worry when we moved over. However we chose where to live based on the good schooling so I think are experiencing life in a bubble a little.
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Old Oct 28th 2014, 3:18 am
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Default Re: USA Education system

Do you have any idea where in Austin you would like to live? Are you having a look, see visit before you move? Will your company be providing some assistance with your move, like a realtor who knows the area? Will you be living in rental accommodation for a while? All these factors will come into making decisions about where your kids will be going to school. Check out the Austin ISD (independent school district), Pflugerville ISD, Round Rock ISD and Westlake ISD websites, they will list all the individual schools. Look up as much as you can about possible schools and contact them about school records and immunizations that will be required to enroll. There are also charter schools which seem to be growing like mushrooms at the moment plus a couple of private schools in Austin. I have no idea about them other than they wear uniforms.

School year age range starts 1st Sept - 31st August so probably grade 3 (elementary) and grade 6 (middle school). High school starts at grade 9.
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Old Oct 28th 2014, 12:34 pm
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Default Re: USA Education system

Couldn't be happier with the school program our 16..17, and 14 year old are in here, but this is an academic town. Their classmates are all the children of academics at the university which dominates.

After three months the 14 year old has been assigned his graduation project, his teachers have decided he is advanced enough to be pushed hard on AP. The 17 year old is worried because the PSAT was the easiest exam he's done since he was 11.
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Old Oct 28th 2014, 6:14 pm
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Default Re: USA Education system

Try to choose a place to live that feeds into the following high schools:
Westwood (that's us, very international IB school)
Westlake (Nice, rich area of Austin)
Lake Travis (west of Austin, nice area, good school)

Austin ISD also has LASA which is a magnet school = selective entry, highly competitive gets excellent results.

Commuting around Austin is pretty awful, my advice is to minimise that. We made a choice in favour of IB school so hubby has to leave early to avoid traffic.

Once the kids are in school you won't want to move them again and the High School catchment areas are really important.
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Old Oct 28th 2014, 8:22 pm
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Default Re: USA Education system

Hi yes we are visiting areas of Cedar Park and Round Rock this weeks...flying out 2mor to visit schools...company are paying for it in its entirety...

I was not so sure about Pfugerville ISD as the great school ratings dropped to 4-5 from 8-10 in Cedar Park and Round Rock...

Yes my thoughts are with high schools in mind
Anymore help is welcome
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Old Oct 28th 2014, 9:08 pm
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Default Re: USA Education system

Round Rock ISD has some good schools, the best HS is Westwood. In Austin, Spicewood elementary/Canyon Vista MS/Westwood HS is known as one of the best school routes. The catchment area for all 3 is very small and fairly pricey. This is where we live. You might consider Canyon Creek which is good and feeds into Westwood. Housing round there is a bit cheaper and a bit newer.

Cedar Park is Leander ISD and I don't know about their schools.

austin relocation forum might be a good place to ask as well.
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