International Schools in the US

Qualities and Learning methods

In addition to the many private schools that follow the American curriculum, there are a number of international and foreign-language schools. International schools accept students of all nationalities and religious backgrounds, who are taught in English. Where necessary, students whose mother tongue isn’t English receive intensive English tuition.

International and foreign-language school fees may be higher than those at many American private schools, particularly fees for boarders.

Quality of International Schools

Most international schools prepare students for the two-year International Baccalaureate (IB) pre-university examination, although some offer an American curriculum in addition to the IB curriculum. The IB diploma is recognised as an entry qualification by universities worldwide and is particularly important if you’re planning to continue your child’s college or university education outside North America. It should be noted that an American high school education is academically up to two years behind those in most other industrialised countries, and a high school diploma isn’t accepted as a university entrance qualification in many countries (e.g. most European countries).

Learning methods and curriculum

The IB curriculum is introduced during a student’s last two years of secondary school, and study is undertaken in a wide range of subjects, selected under the guidance of a school-appointed IB coordinator. The subjects that comprise the core of the IB curriculum are divided into six groups (from each of which candidates must select one subject): language A (literature); language B (modern foreign languages); individuals and societies (social studies); experimental sciences; mathematics; and a sixth elective (optional) subject.

Three subjects are studied at Higher level and three at Subsidiary level. In addition, students are required to complete a course unique to the IB curriculum, called Theory of Knowledge. This reflects the philosophy of the IB, which is that students should be taught ‘how to learn’; a deliberate compromise between the preference for specialisation in some countries and the emphasis on general knowledge preferred by others.

Further information about the IB, including a list of participating American schools, can be obtained from International Baccalaureate North America (IBNA), or from the international headquarters (www.ibo.org ).

Foreign-language schools cater for nationals of a particular country or those speaking a particular language, and students usually study for entry to higher educational institutions abroad. Among the many foreign-language schools in the US (usually located in major cities such as Los Angeles, New York and Washington DC) are Canadian, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish schools. Information about international and foreign schools is available from embassies and consulates in the US.

This article is an extract from Living and Working in America. Click here to get a copy now.


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