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#3512 11/02/01 07:16 AM
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>This will mean our elementary school children may have to go to school as early as 7:00 a.m. We have a limited number of school buses for a school system of over 50 schools, so we have to transport children in shifts.

Little children are probably better in the early mornings than older children but I feel sorry for all the parents to have to get them ready so early, especially those with pre-school children too.

Because people expect to take their own children to school in the main, that would be less of an issue here. There are some school buses in rural areas but I lived in lots of different places and there has never been one available for my children.

>to help students who need to repeat courses

I am not aware of any summer classes offered by schools here. Are they free or do parents have to pay?

We don't have a system where people repeat classes, you get one chance to do a school year, then move on. If a child fails at GCSE (England)/Standard Grade(Scotland) at 15/16, then they might have to re-sit but I'm not aware of any classes being offered by schools over the summer. There may be private colleges offering crash courses.

Most of summer provision is by the voluntary or private sector and is leisure/sport related, not academic. We don't have a history of residential summer camps although there are lots of activities available for those who live in or near cities or major towns. There are summer holiday companies specialising in activity holidays for children and the usual scout or guide camps for those involved.


#3513 11/02/01 04:08 PM
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#3514 11/02/01 10:29 PM
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Warning - long post

>Our school year is 180 days for students; 200, for teachers. Students are in school for six and a half hours, Monday through Friday.

I’ve looked up the official information. The current system in UK state schools is based on three equal terms of thirteen weeks, with a half term break, usually a week, although some have just a few days, some have two weeks in the middle of each term, it varies by Local Authority and on the timing of the easter break. Apparently the minimum number of days is 190, (so only two weeks longer) with a few more days for teachers.

It looks like the debate about switching to a five or six term school year has some of the same issues in the UK and USA if this Uk government website is anything to go by:
http://www.dfee.gov.uk/teacher/data/issues/data/5terms05.htm


>Your own system sounds very different from ours. Do you move students on to the next level even when they have not some footing in the one they just completed? And how high is your drop-out rate?

I don’t really understand the concept of “moving up to the next level”.
Maybe a teacher would view it differently. The year group is based on age, not level of achievement, you move to the next year with your year group. At junior schools there tend to be different groups sitting at different tables within the class working on different levels. Once they have finished one part of the work, they move on to the next, in a continuum. There may be a maths book designed for, say seven year olds. If their particular group hasn’t finished the book by the end of the year, they carry on with it at the start of the next. If they finish the book before the end of the year, they either start the next one or find another book at a similar level. Subjects like history and geography are taught in blocks on a project by project basis, any given project eg the rainforest, contains strands of different subjects, once the project is finished, they move on, in the state primary schools that my children have attended there is no test. There is testing at seven and eleven but I have not yet worked out the contribution it makes to education. It was treated in a very low key way, more as a personal diagnostic test, at the Scottish school that my children attended but seems to be taken quite seriously in England, more for the positioning of school in a published “league table” than for the good of any individual child.

My daughter has only just started secondary school and is in one set for maths (there are eight sets), another for language and another “teaching set” for other subjects. I suppose that the higher groups get further in the course of the year. They can move up or down sets during the year. There are tests to check progress but no subjects are “passed” or “failed” until they take public examinations at the age of 15 or 16. They just move into the next year. After two or three years at school, they chose subjects to study for their exams. They usually have to take english language, maths and one foreign language and choose from the usual range of subjects like biology, physics, chemistry, geography, history, english literature, modern languages, ancient languages, art, music etc. The subjects are not divided into courses like university subjects (eg restoration drama or organic chemistry) but the exam at the end of the course will relate to a published syllabus. Some subjects now include assessed course work but I have not yet had any direct experience. Some schools have more adventurous options available depending on resources and whether it is considered to be an academic school. The results are published in "league tables", with results reflecting parental income of the catchments area (but then, I am a cynic) rather than anything very useful.

What do you mean by “drop out rate”? Do you mean at 16?

You have to go to school until you are 16, you can’t drop out before that without having been excluded for some serious reason. In the schools that I have had most dealings with, most pupils stay on to do “A” levels and then go on to university at 17 or 18, sometimes after a “gap” year. I know that in reality, a huge number of children leave at 16. You can leave with four “A” levels or just with one GCSE. I was going to say, “it is up to the pupil” but I suppose that that is unfair and depends on a huge number of environmental factors as well as ability and commitment. There are an increasing number of alternatives to the traditional school system, some areas have sixth form colleges where “A” levels are studies. There are Colleges of Further Education that provide vocational courses as well as traditional subjects. There are an increasing number of newer qualifications like NVQs and GNVQs that were invented since I went to school and my children are still too young for me to have to know about.

You don’t “graduate” from school, you just leave with whatever exam results you have picked up along the way. "A" levels and "highers" are graded from A-E(I think), different university courses will ask for different grades eg an English course may ask for three Bs at A level, one of them being English, only three "A" levels are usually studied, rather than five "highers" in Scotland, so the system is different. English Universities offer mainly three year full time degrees, Scottish mainly four years, Medicine is usually five years in England. Architecture is either five or six. Other long courses include dentistry, veterinary science. Some degrees, eg engineering are taken over longer periods with time spent in industry. Modern languages are usually a year longer to allow a year abroad. Teaching can be taken as a degree or as a one year post graduate course.

This British Council site gives the “official line” on the education system in the UK
http://www.britishcouncil.org/education/eduinfosh/eduin_index.htm



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Here are a few current UK Education stories for anyone who is interested in the differences between the different systems::

OK, hands up all of you who are currently struggling with GCSE coursework. Thank you. Now, those of you who are still at school put your hands down. Hmm! As I thought, rather a lot of parents still with their hands in the air. A discussion of the inclusion of course work in the current GCSE syllabus and the “help” given by parents:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/education/features/mike_baker/newsid_1634000/1634426.stm

Just walking into the exam halls was enough to send a shiver of recollected tension down my spine - and it is many years since I last sat an examination in earnest. Such is the power of those deep-lurking memories. …
For the first time a higher proportion of young people graduate from university in the UK (35.6%) than graduate from the USA (33.2%). This may be partly due to the shorter length of undergraduate degree courses in the UK, but the main factor is the much higher drop-out rate in the US.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/education/features/mike_baker/newsid_1391000/1391120.stm

This summer, as in past years, schools in England and Wales are already having to accommodate and supervise around five and a half million GCSE exam entries and a further 700,000 A level entries. Now, on top of this, they must also oversee some three-quarters of a million AS-level entries. …
Contrast this to the United States where, although state-wide testing is on the increase, there are no nation-wide examinations at 14, 16, 17 and 18 as we now have.
Discussion of the introduction of a new layer of exams (AS level) in the UK.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/education/newsid_1364000/1364907.stm



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Re: Exams or not

Someone will have to explain to me how the US system works, it looks like Australia and New Zealand operate similarly (or maybe not, I don't know). I know about the European Baccalaureate exams which are considered here to offer a broader academic base than our own system.

What I don't understand is the stuff about credit classes and grades. There was some discussion earlier where Shanks mentioned the problem of not getting on with a particular teacher. Are all grades down to the class teacher or is there any external validation? Is it all down to course work or are there end of year exams as well? How many subjects are students studying at the ages of: 16, 17 and 18? How do universities select pupils if there are no examinations? Could your future be affected by a bad relationship with one teacher?

A couple of links would do - I can't find anything general enough or PM me if you don't want to post.

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#3517 11/05/01 12:48 PM
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Someone will have to explain to me how the US system works

In a nutshell, and based on Michigan's requirements:

The academic year begins in late August and goes through early June. Breaks are frequent, and include Thanksgiving and the day after, two weeks around Christmas and New Year's Day, a week in early spring, and various odd days and half days off. It is rare for the local school system to have two full, uninterrupted weeks at a stretch, because of time given to the teachers for training conferences, parent conferences and such. Through it all, the school must afford 180 days of instruction in the year.

Schooling begins at age five with Kindergarten, a half-day session primarily geared toward teaching the children to follow instructions, take turns and such. There is a limited amount of academic instruction, so that most children know the alphabet, counting up to 20 or so, and can write their own names and a few other words.

Full-time school days start in 1st grade. The public school system offers instruction from grade 1 to grade 12. The exact allocation of grades among school buildings depends upon fluctuations in student population, but generally, elementary school goes to grade 6, junior high (or middle school) encompasses grades 7 and 8, and high school includes grades 9 through 12.

In elementary school, a student is assigned to a particular classroom taught by a single teacher. That class and teacher cover all the different academic disciplines for the entire year -- reading, spelling, penmanship, science, art, arithmetic -- except for subjects like gym or music which require special equipment.

In junior high, the students go from classroom to classroom, according to a class schedule, and they have a different instructor for each subject. A typical junior high schedule might include: English, math, history, science, gym and home ec or shop. There are very few electives available in junior high.

In high school, the schedules become more differentiated, as students pursue courses suitable to their aptitudes and interests. To obtain a high school diploma, a student must satisfactorily complete minimum numbers of courses in English, science, math, history, government, gym, and so on, as designated by the local board of education. Students pursuing college prep tracks will take foreign languages, advanced science and mathematics and such, while students pursuing vocational tracks will take shop, bookkeeping, word processing, and such.

At each grade level, student grading depends largely on the teacher of the pertinent classroom or course. Usually, the grading depends upon both classwork (participation in class, homework, special projects) and examinations (some teachers quiz every week, some give only midterms and finals), but final examinations are usually a significant part of the final grade for a course. A student who cannot obtain a satisfactory grade in a course cannot get credit for it, and if he needs it to advance to the next grade level or to obtain his diploma, he must repeat the course or grade level.

On top of this layer of grading is the recently imposed state testing system, which now tests all students in the state on core subjects (math, science, English) at several points (I think something like: 3rd grade, 7th grade, and 12th grade). The results of the tests affect the funding and autonomy of the schools; schools with poor results are subject to state takeover. And, students who place highly enough receive special state endorsements on their diplomas.

School attendance is mandatory until age 16, which for most students is grade 10 or 11.

After graduation from high school, many students continue to college or a training school. There are hundreds in the US, both public and private, but all require substantial payments of tuition by the students. For a standard academic college bachelor's degree, four years of study is required.

Postgraduate study is required for certain professions. Physicians must attend medical school for four years; lawyers must attend law school for three years.

A list of requirements for a diploma from the local school district, through the adult education program, is here:

http://scnc.erps.k12.mi.us/~kingst/adult.htm#grad

Credit Requirements: 2000 Graduation Requirements
English 4 cr.
Math 2 cr.
Science 2 cr.
Social Studies 1 cr. (Economics/Political Science)
U.S. History 1 cr.
Government 1/2 cr.
Electives* 7 1/2 cr.
*Must include 1/2 credit of Word Processing, Introduction to Computers, or an equivalent course. This requirement may be waived for some students. Please see academic advisor for more information.


Each credit represents one academic year of instruction at the high school level, so, one would need four years of English, two years of math, two years of science, one year of social studies, one year of US history, a half-year of government, a half-year of computer use, and 7 years of other. I believe that these requirements vary a bit from the standard requirements; I guess they decided that adults going back to school didn't really need the joy of gym class, stinky lockerrooms and public showers.






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Thanks for that masterly summation of your system. I had never really understood how it all worked before, and now I feel that I have at least a fair idea.

But one supplementary question, please.
students pursuing vocational tracks will take shop, bookkeeping, word processing, and such.
What is "shop" ??



#3520 11/05/01 05:41 PM
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Shop classes teach applied vocational skills. Common ones are: wood shop (build a birdhouse!), metal shop (build a tin birdhouse!), and machine shop (build the gizmo which cuts the metal to build the tin birdhouse!). Shop students acquire the knowledge and skills used in industrial manufacturing and repair, and to maintain farms and homes.


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What is "shop" ??

How do you think Americans got to be such voracious consumers? We have classes in it!


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