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Welcome to Washington
We know how hard it is to move to a new city, let alone a new country. IMFFA is here to help! Here is some useful information about living and working in the DC metro area. And from all of us at IMFFA, welcome to Washington!
Overview of US Education System (K-12)
Education in the United States is mainly provided by the public sector, with control and funding coming from three different levels: federal, state, and local. Child education is compulsory and can be satisfied by many ways such as public schools, state-certified private schools, or an approved home school program.
Public education is well present in the United States. From kindergarten to 12th grade (K-12), many public schools will be in your neighborhood whether it’s an elementary, middle or high school. Any K-12 public school curricula or any resources necessary are controlled and represented by elected school boards governing school districts in the county you reside. They possess jurisdiction in schools and apply the decisions made by the states or federal legislature represented by the U.S. Department of Education.
All children are required to enroll in school by age 5. For Washington D.C. and Maryland, your child must turn 5 by September 1st; for Virginia, by September 30th. An overview of the grade levels and typical age ranges are available here.
There are many public and private school options for you to evaluate and choose from in the DC, Virginia and Maryland area.
It is the main point of delivery of primary education in the United Stated for children between the ages of 4 and 11 years old from grade one through 6 th grade. Typically, the curriculum in public elementary education is determined by individual school districts. The school district selects curriculum guides and textbooks that reflect a state’s learning standards and benchmarks for a given grade level.
Middle school is from 6 th grade through 8 th grade. It is the first step of Secondary education in the United States. Variety of classes are larger, allowing the student to start taking a foreign language or advanced math and science classes in middle school. Most middle schools have “honors” classes for motivated and gifted students, where the quality of education is higher and much more is expected from the enrolled student. Successful completion of middle school leads entry into high school.
High school is from 9th grade through 12th grade. It is the last step of Secondary education in the United States. There are many types of high school depending of your child’s needs but high school is the key element in order to enter to college thanks to an abundant choice of different courses suited to the student’s level. Most high schools prepare well students to college with advanced level courses known as AP (Advanced Placement) or offer them the opportunity to work for the International Baccalaureate, a highly respected education allowing the student to apply to excellent universities anywhere in the world.
Bilingual Schools (International Private Schools Education System)
Apart from the International Baccalaureate schools, the Maryland and DC areas benefit the presence of schools with a unique education system. Your children will be therefore capable of continuing or maybe even finish their respective education program before applying for a university. These bilingual schools are the following:
Lycee Rochambeau – The French International School
Rochambeau presents a unique opportunity: a truly transformative environment in which students learn, grow and become fully prepared to thrive and succeed in an ever-changing world. Rochambeau optimizes students’ potential by giving them as many opportunities as possible for their future. Having a broad base of knowledge, the ability to think critically, and an understanding of the world from different perspectives, Rochambeau graduates are bicultural and bilingual, often multilingual. With both a US High School diploma and a French Baccalauréat with the OIB Option (Option Internationale du Baccalauréat), they can choose their education in the US, Canada, the UK, and France or anywhere in the world. This is the Rochambeau Advantage.
For more information, please visit www.rochambeau.org
The British School of Washington
The British School of Washington is a distinctive private international school, with over sixty nationalities represented in their student body. From kindergarten to 12th grade students, they also proposes the International Baccalaureate program allowing students to be accepted from leading colleges and universities worldwide.
For more information, please visit http://www.nordangliaeducation.com/our-schools/washington
The German School of Washington
Located in Potomac, MC, the German School has been teaching children from preschool through twelfth grade over 50 years. The diplomas granted at the end of twelfth grade provide students access to universities in Europe as well as in the United States.
For more information, please visit www.dswashington.org
International Baccalaureate Education – Washington International School (WIS)
The International Baccalaureate Organization (known as the IB) offers four high-quality and challenging educational programs for a worldwide community of schools, aiming to create a better, more peaceful world. At the centre of international education in the IB are students ages 3 to 19 with their own learning styles, strengths and challenges. Students of all ages come to school with combinations of unique and shared patterns of values, knowledge and experience of the world and their place in it.
Washington International School is a coeducational independent school (private school) offering a challenging curriculum and rich language program from Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12.
Washington International School allows students to develop the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the prestigious IB Diploma Program, the curriculum in Grades 11 and 12.
Applying to university/college can be really demanding or stressful for both parents and children. However, college applications are essentially based on standardized tests to review students’ academic performances along their school semester reports. Universities have different entry requirements but most of these standardized tests are issued by The College Board. Here are a list of the main standardized tests you will encounter.
PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10
Students in 10th and 11th grade can take the new PSAT/NMSQT for the first time as from October 2015. The PSAT 10 will be available to 10th-grade students in the spring. Students sign up for the PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10 with their school counselor.
The PSAT/NMSQT and the PSAT 10 cover the same content areas. Both tests provide students and educators with the chance to check in on progress toward college and career readiness and success. Both serve as an excellent way for students to preview and practice for the SAT, because they are tightly aligned with the new SAT.
The new PSAT/NMSQT and the PSAT 10 will give students access to free personalized SAT study. With students’ explicit permission, Khan Academy (Massive Open Online Course) will use their PSAT/NMSQT or PSAT 10 results to create a study plan especially for them.
For more information, please visit: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/psat-nmsqt-psat-10
The SAT is the nation’s most widely used college admission test. Used with high school GAP, SAT scores are the best predicators of a student’s potential to succeed in college.
A new version of the New SAT is coming in March 2016 with different rules than the current one. The New SAT is the anchor of the SAT Suite of Assessments. Tightly aligned with the PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10, and PSAT 8/9, it provides a powerful connection to college and career. As students will progress from grade to grade, the tests will keep pace, matching the scope and difficulty of work found in the classroom. The main skills and knowledge areas it will test are the following:
· Reading Test
· Writing and Language Test
· Math Test
· SAT Essay (now optional)
For more information, please visit: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/test-design
SAT Subject Tests
Subject tests are hour-long (much shorter than the SAT), content-based tests that allow you to showcase achievement in specific subject areas where you excel. These are the only national admissions tests where you choose the tests that best showcase your achievements and interests.
SAT Subject Tests allow you to differentiate yourself in the college admission process or send a strong message regarding your readiness to study specific majors or programs in college. In conjunction with your other admission credentials (high school record, SAT scores, teacher recommendations, etc.), they provide a more complete picture of your academic background and interests.
There are 20 SAT Subject Tests in five general subject areas: English, History, Languages, Mathematics and Science.
For more information, please visit: https://sat.collegeboard.org/about-tests/sat-subject-tests
Originally an abbreviation of American College Testing, the ACT is a standardized test for high school achievement and college admissions in the United States produced by ACT, Inc. The ACT and SAT have the same “value” in terms of evaluation as colleges and universities accept the ACT or the SAT for college applications. High school students are encourage to take both standardized tests in order to evaluate their best performances. However, the ACT is somehow different than the SAT for many reasons (duration, scores, penalty guess, essay, etc.). For example, the sections of the ACT are the following:
· Writing Test (optional)
For more information, please visit: http://www.actstudent.org
English-language Proficiency Exams
a. TOEFL iBT Test
The TOEFL iBT Test, administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) via the Internet, is an important part of your journey to study in an English-speaking country. This test measures your ability to use and understand English at the university level. It evaluates how well your combine your listening, reading, speaking and writing skills to perform academic tasks.
For more information, please visit: https://www.ets.org/toefl/ibt/about
b. IELTS – International English Language Testing System
IELTS is accepted as evidence of English-language proficiency by over 9000 organizations worldwide. It is jointly owned by the British Counsel, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment.
For more information, please visit: http://www.ielts.org/
Universities and Colleges
College Application: What You Should Know
a. You can get in.
College applications isn’t as competitive as you might think. Fewer than 100 colleges in the USA are highly selective, which means they accept less than 25 percent of applicants. Close to 500 four-year colleges accept more than 75 percent of applicants. Open-admission colleges accept all or most high school graduates.
b. You are unique.
You should base your choice on how well a college fits your needs. Don’t worry about how it’s ranked on a list or how famous it is. The effort you put in and the opportunities you take advantage off once you get matter more than the college you go to. Once you graduate from college, your achievements and skills will matter most.
c. You are not in this alone.
Family, teachers and friends are a great resource. Discuss your plans to go to college with them and ask for help and advice. Make an appointment with a school counselor or your principal to talk about the application process, colleges, that will suit you and options for financial aid.
d. When to start college applications.
The summer before your senior year (12th grade) is the best time to start. Most students do the majority of their application work in the fall of their senior year.
e. How many colleges to apply to.
Five to eight colleges is the recommended number. They should all be colleges you would be happy to attend. It’s good to apply to some colleges that are a bit of a stretch for you and some that you feel will likely admit you. But most should feel like good, realistic matches.
f. University Network Application
Many universities have their own webpage/website in which you can make and then send your application along any other additional material useful toward your application. Sometimes, your high school counselor send your high school reports and letters of recommendations from your teachers. Make sure you complete the requested information section so the Universities Admission Teams will review your application as accurate as possible. Most universities charge a fee when you are sending your application. HOWEVER, when it comes to Standardized Tests, it is YOUR responsibility to send them all to the colleges you are applying. You will be able to send your test scores as soon as they are available to see online. Additional fees may vary depending on which standardized test you are sending.
g. The Common Application
It is a standardized application used by more than 525 colleges. Instead of filling out eight different applications, you can simply fill out one and submit it to each college. Be aware that you may need to submit or separate documents to some colleges. You also still need to pay individual application fees for each college.
For more information, please visit: https://www.commonapp.org/Login
How much you are willing to or can spend on college is a very important factor to take into consideration in the college selection process. While you should never let the price of a school discourage you from applying, you do need to think about that massive tuition bill.
i. Field of Study
One thing that’s really important when you’re comparing schools is ones offer the major you would like to study. While most four-year colleges offer most majors, there are some specializations within majors that not all colleges offer.
Don’t forget to check out the specific professors in your field of study because they will be directly responsible for what you learn or don’t.
j. Where you will live
This factor is two-fold. You need to decide where you will live, as in the location of the school and where you will live, as in housing.
Location: school out of state, different weather, rural areas
Housing: dorms/campus, roommates, off-campus apartment
All these information can have a significant importance in your choice of college.
For more information, please visit: http://www.gocollege.com/admissions/college-search/factors.html
Early Decision (ED) & Early Action
Early Decision (ED) and Early Action (EA) plans can be beneficial to students – but only to those who have thought through their college options carefully and have a clear preference for one institution.
Early Decision plans are binding – a student who is accepted as an ED applicant must attend the college. Early Action plans are nonbinding – students receive an early response to their application but do not have to commit to the college until the normal reply date of May 1. Counselors need to make sure that students understand this key distinction between the two plans.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]