A-levels or IB?

August 4, 2010

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Even in public schools, students around the world have to decide between educational systems. For instance, state institutions in the UK (and the US) are now offering the International Baccalaureate (IB); in fact, over 63% of the IB schools in the UK are state funded schools. Well, which one is better? At School Choice International, we believe each system has its benefits and it really depends on the particular student.

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Listen to a student and experts discuss the pros and cons, as well as the type of pupil best suited to each program.

~ Woman’s Hour on BBC looks at this important issue ~

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Here are some of the topics:

A-Levels

  • Standard: Most students in the UK take the A-Levels
  • Specialized Study: A-level students narrow their academic focus quite early
  • UK Focused: Like most state programs, the A-Levels tends to be focused on British topics, for instance British literature and economics
  • Curriculum 2000: The current A-levels have changed to 4 modules, so it is not the same program the parents took

International Baccalaureate

  • A Liberal Arts Approach: IB students must take a broad range of subjects, allowing students to keep options open
  • World Perspective: Students must study world literature, foreign languages, global economics
  • Strong Work Ethic: In order complete this challenging program, students have to develop strong study skills
  • Privileged and Academic Elite: The IB program is no longer only for the financially privileged or the academically elite
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Summer: A Time for Fun Learning

July 19, 2010

Summer is here… and the school year is around the corner!

Parents with young children are thinking about ways to entertain their little bundles of energy. Readers of this blog already know the importance of summer learning; kids who are not engaged during the summer fall behind academically. We also know that, while technology plays an important part in education today, unsupervised use of the computer at home negatively affects test scores at school.

The kids have to be engaged, but not on the computer (unless it’s supervised and timed), and we all know, the TV is out! What do parents do???

Here are some helpful suggestions  from Kid Source Online

Make a HISTORY TIME LINE — Record history at home. Stretch a roll of shelf paper along the floor. Use a ruler to make a line about three feet long. (Use a separate sheet for each child.) Ask your children to fill in the important dates in their own lives, starting with their birth. Those familiar with U.S. history can fill in major dates since the founding of our country. Display these finished time lines in a special place for all to see.

Create PICTURE STORIES — Develop imagination and creativity. Have your children select four or five pictures from magazines and newspapers, and put them together to tell a story. Ask your children to number the pictures — 1,2,3, etc. First, ask them to tell the story with the pictures in numerical order. For variety, have your children rearrange the pictures and tell a new story using this different arrangement.

More ideas from Suite 101

  • Plant a garden or start a compost – Learn about planning, measuring, botany and about the environment.
  • Bake and cook together – Learn about fractions and nutrition.
  • Build something out of wood (table, butterfly house or sculpture) – Teaches planning, designing, measuring and building.
  • Child planned trip – Make a trip or outing educational by having the child plan the itinerary, budget and route.
  • Make a scrapbook or journal of an outing (whether it is a day or week) – Teaches observation and record keeping in different mediums.
  • Educational websites – Limit computer time, and encourage sites that engage the mind.

Enjoy your summer!


Going Local… in India

July 14, 2010

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This American family sent their daughter to a local school in India… hear more about their experiences, including some very funny stories!

See a previous post on the same family.


Report Cards from Around the World: Bangkok, Thailand

January 30, 2010

For the next several weeks, we’ll look at report cards from around the world.

~ Here we come! ~

~ 9th Stop ~ Thailand ~

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Thailand is a popular tourist destination as well as a popular expat post. As a newly industrialized country, Thailand has a lot to offer in terms of modern commodities, as well as a rich history and culture. Thailand has a developed educational system and a high level of literacy. Education is compulsory until Grade 9 and free to Grade 12.

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Report Card Basics

  • Type of School: British Standard International School
  • Academic Year: 1994-1995
  • Year: 4

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Here’s the report card! The blue numbers highlight a few interesting aspects of the report and the numbers correspond to notes below the image.

1. Reading, Written Language, Maths… and Thai!

This school incorporates the local language as a mandatory subject. Courses include reading, written language, maths, topic (though the actual topic isn’t written), P.E. (physical education), art, music, computer and Thai.

2. Good job Son, I think you got a, um… a 1 in Thai Class

The box at the top of the report card says “Marking Symbols Reflect Achievement Only.” Using this statement, paired with the smaller-than-small “marking symbols” (numerical grades – 1 stands for excellent, 2 for good, 3 for satisfactory, etc.), parents can safely assume the comments hold more weight than the number grades.

3. Comments, comments and more comments

This report card has plenty of room reserved from comments from the teachers, allowing the parents to get a good sense of their child as a student.

4. Grade for Courses… and Study Skills

Along with grades for the courses, students receive grades and comments for the Work and Study Skills they should be picking up. Skills include “works independently,” “works well with others,” “participates in class,” “follows directions and rules” and “attitude.”

See Report Card from: Ontario, Canada; Mexico City, Mexico;    Zomba, Malawi; Sydney, Australia, week 1;    Sydney, Australia, week 2;   Dalhousie, India; Kathmandu, Nepal;    Soro, Denmark


Education… for Education’s Sake?

January 13, 2010

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Dearest Readers,

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Do you believe in education for education’s sake, or is education a means to a professional end? What do you think about this quote on teaching foreign languages?

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“My son got the highest grade in the country in a Latin exam — absolutely meaningless in terms of finding a job, unless he wants to be pope.”

Sachs, St. Petersburg Times, Florida


Warm Holiday Wishes

December 18, 2009


Report Cards from Around the World: Ontario, Canada

December 12, 2009

For the next several weeks, we’ll look at report cards from around the world.

~ Report Cards, Eh? ~

~ 8 th Stop ~ Ontario ~

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The most populated province in Canada, Ontario has a multicultural background with relatively high immigration rates. The largest minority groups in Toronto include South Asians, Chinese, African Canadians, Latin Americans and Aboriginal peoples. Unlike most other national public systems, Ontario has four publicly funded school systems: English-language schools, French-language schools, English-language separate schools (“separate” refers to the inclusion of religious studies), and French-language separate schools. The Canadian educational system has a great reputation all over the world.

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Report Card Basics

  • Type of School: English-language local public school
  • Academic Year: Current model
  • Class: Primary School (Years 1-6)

Here’s the report card! The blue numbers highlight a few interesting aspects of the report and the numbers correspond to notes below the image.

1. A Standard Format for Report Cards

Students in Ontario public (secular) schools receive the same report cards, which are available on a government website. The system creates a standard which makes transferring schools easier, but also some rigidity. On the other hand, the report card includes lots of space for teacher comments and individualized assessment.

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2. Promotion Status

This is a first for us! This section tells the child and parents whether students are progressing well towards promotion. Each child receives one of the following: progressing well towards promotion, progressing with some difficulty towards promotion or promotion at risk.

3. Expectations… What does an A- means anyways!

This report card clearly explains the meaning of each letter grade… An A isn’t just better than a B; a B suggests the child has required knowledge and meets provincial standards, while an A represents knowledge and skills that exceed provincial standards.

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4. English, Second Language and Mathematics…

A half page (of two pages total) is dedicated to English, the second language (French or the native language) and mathematics. This illustrates the importance of the three fundamental subjects. Each subject is broken down into a few components (for instance, English is composed of reading, writing and oral and visual communication). Notice that half the grading space is dedicated comments from teachers. This shows some flexibility in a relatively rigid reporting system.

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5. Learning Skills

Besides, class and subject grades, students receive grades on skills they should be learning throughout the curriculum: independent work, initiative, homework completion, use of information, cooperation with others, conflict resolution, class participation, problem solving and goal setting to improve work. This list reflects provincial values as well!

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6. Response Form

We haven’t seen this before! The Ontario report card has a whole page dedicated to responses from parents and students (I condensed the page for ease of viewing). Parents and students can write about student achievement, goals and support. This page can be an excellent venue to communicate with the teachers.

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See Report Card from: Mexico City, Mexico;    Zomba, Malawi; Sydney, Australia, week 1;    Sydney, Australia, week 2;   Dalhousie, India; Kathmandu, Nepal;    Soro, Denmark