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English school grades versus US grades

(16 Posts)
Texasmom Thu 07-Jul-11 17:41:18

HELP! I have my sons grades for this term and neither has done well. My oldest has an academic scholarship for the senior school. He is attending the prep school that leads to the senior school. This is our first attempt at an English school. J has always had A's in his school at home in Texas and tests on the US Stanfords in the top 92-99% in all levels. He is 11 and likely at the GCSE level in maths. He had an A in English, Maths, and Science. Everything else Bs. In US grade point average terms - he has a 3.2. My youngest has Cs in academic subjects giving him a 2.0 grade point average. With these grade point averages, neither child would be offered a place in a US university. I should also say - I don't feel the grades reflect their ability. J has taken Spanish since he was 3 year old yet had a B. Has anyone had problem attending a US private/independent school with these types of grades?

meditrina Thu 07-Jul-11 19:29:29

I think you need to go in and talk to the Director of Studies or equivalent and ask for a further explanation of their marks system. Are they effort or attainment marks, or combination?

Try not to panic ahead of this - they certainly won't have a tied equivalence to US grades, and grade point averages are unknown here. Also the prep school outcome would not count in university admissions (that would be GCSE, AS, A levels or equivalent (IB, pre-U). School marks would not be part of the process (other than estimated result at A level).

Will you still be in UK for their university years? If not, it might be worth finding out now what are the entry requirements for your potential US universities - ie what they look for in terms of UK qualifications (absent standardised grade point averages etc).

ragged Thu 07-Jul-11 19:33:46

Um, You're worrying about their GPA when they're both under 12? Do US Universities take into account anything but the last 4 yrs of high school GPA nowadays? shock How long have they been at the English prep school?

meditrina Thu 07-Jul-11 19:39:47

And, further to my last, it's really likely that some of the apparent reduction is because of the shift to a different curriculum, and just the general demands of settling after an international move.

MmeBlueberry Thu 07-Jul-11 20:36:08

You don't need to worry about GPAs until 11th grade.

If your child is still in the UK then, universities will assess him on a different basis, and he can still do SATs. If he does A-levels, these are similar to AP courses. GCSEs are on par with a high school diploma.

There is a lot more to education in another country than grades. He will be a very interesting candidate to US universities because of his life experience. That is why all the top US universities have recruitment fairs in the UK.

MmeBlueberry Thu 07-Jul-11 20:42:23

If you are going to speak to the director of studies at the prep school, as what national curriculum levels the attainment grades map to. These are more useful than letter grades which are not standardised.

Letter grades could be absolute based on a national standard, on a scale particular to the chosen senior school, or relative to your son's natural ability. They may be at the whim of the individual teachers and so differ from subject to subject.

When he moves to senior school he will undergo an ability/potential test, and this will predict GCSE success.

freerangeeggs Thu 07-Jul-11 22:14:03

What do they mean by As and Bs? The National Curriculum levels go from 2 - 8, not A - G. If your sons were in state schools they would not be assessed that way until GCSE level. As a poster above already said, you need to get clarification as to what these grades mean - are they effort or attainment levels, or some kind of weird mixture of both?

As they don't map onto the National Curriculum levels, they therefore don't have a clear correlation with possible GCSE grades (unless the prep school has some kind of system for this?). I can't tell you how well your sons are doing based on these grades. I imagine a B in a prep school is probably pretty well above average, though.

Don't panic too much, they're only wee yet. Panic when they're chasing girls and spending all night on the Xbox in Y10 :P

elphabadefiesgravity Thu 07-Jul-11 22:22:10

My children attend a prep school and they get grades A-E for achievment and 1-5 for effort. You also get told their examination result in a percentage.

To get an A you have to be exceptional in that subject. B is very good C is what you would expect the majority of children their age to be achieving. D's start to become worrying. It is possible that at your school effort and achievment are combined. Ther is no one set way.

My children's school don't do SATS. British universities take absolutely no notice of marks gained up until GCSE's and A levels. The British system is verydifferent, there is fa less emphasis on grades throughout school life, they are meant to be a rough indicator of how well the child is doing, thats all.

meditrina Thu 07-Jul-11 22:34:23

Teaching in private schools is not tied to the NC, and the teachers may well not be familiar with awarding NC levels. So the school might genuinely not be able to give more than the most general steer in those terms.

As in the core subjects does sound as if he's doing well.

mummytime Fri 08-Jul-11 10:42:15

I was horrified when I first looked at US Unis that they expected A's in everything. This was a long time ago, and we have grade inflation in the UK, but a B is not a disaster, its a perfectly good grade.
I think you need to make an appointment and discuss the report with your children's form tutor.

mrswoodentop Fri 08-Jul-11 13:02:52

And breathe this is a totally different system ,independent schools in UK use these grades just as a rough guide to how your child is doing and to give feedback .They have no long term impact at all.As someone else has said a C would be average ,an A at my ds school would be working at at least one year ahead of the "average at that school"
Grades only really relate to end of school stuff at year 10 and above.My ds hardly ever got As at this stage and has 10 As and A*s at GCSE

ragged Fri 08-Jul-11 13:07:50

Not all US Unis now require straight As in High School, Mummytime. My almost 20yo nephew is attending JCs (Junior Community Colleges) for now, to obtain good grades so that he can get into college; he would have struggled to get in most places with the C average he had for most of High School, but if he can pull his socks up (get much better but not necessarily perfect grades) in the JC, he'll get into the Cal State system fine.

notcitrus Fri 08-Jul-11 13:39:46

The American marking system is totally different from the UK one - in the UK a 'passing' mark of 50% really is satisfactory, as that's how tests etc are set. A,B,and C are all respectable marks and getting all As is really rare (and an A is anything above 70% or so)

Totally different from US schools where As and few Bs are the norm and both require over 80% on tests. You can't compare the two.

ragged Fri 08-Jul-11 14:46:43

I don't think it's that simple, Citrus; actually, most US teachers (school and at Uni I had, I doubt this has changed from being widespread practice) fit a bell curve to the exam/marking results and from that assigned grades. They told us specifically what percentile you had to be on to get an A, B, etc. The way you wrote that implies that you meant 80%+ right answers, whereas the US system is to give Grade X in a certain percentile range (eg., might be 65-80%tiles??, typically for a B). So yes As & Bs easier to get in USA, but not arrived at quite the same as your post might suggest to many.

Gotta run so haven't double checked, but I think this link explains what I mean.

British marking is indeed very different philosophy, ime (marked on a Masters Uni level course).

notcitrus Fri 08-Jul-11 16:21:30

Oh yes, I know about the bell curve (not used everywhere in the US, but very common) - it just gets more complex, but the important point I was trying to make was that the two systems aren't comparable.

horsemadmom Fri 08-Jul-11 18:50:43

Hi Texasmom,
Colleges don't look at grades until 9th grade in the states. My youngest DD's report showed that she was in the middle of the class for everything at her very selective prep. I got a bit concerned. Her teacher explained that it was a dream class to teach because they are uniformly high ability and only a few marks either way separate the centiles. So, she's actually doing very well.
Colleges know how to translate GCSE's and A levels. When the time comes you will have no trouble acquiring a brag bumpersticker.

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