Transferring to the American School System
There is a general level of concern about the “transferability” of children into and back out of the U.S. education system. This is a genuine problem as there are considerable differences between the U.S. and International styles of education. The problem seems to be most acute with younger children (aged 5-7). A child transferring between systems at or around those ages will find it most difficult that other ages. This is because at that age in the U.S. system, they will only be beginning to read, write and do maths, whereas in other systems they will have been doing that type of work for a year or two. A child arriving in the U.S. at that age would be extremely bored, and there seems to be little flexibility to address the problem. At the opposite end of the scale, a child returning to an International system might well find that they are behind their peers.
By the age of 9 or 10, it is said that children in the U.S. system will be level with their international peers in the core subject areas of reading, writing and math. However, they are likely to have covered different material in the wider curriculum areas such as history and geography. In Texas, these subjects are generally taught together under the heading “Social Studies” and, as may be expected, have a very American (if not Texan) focus. Modern languages are another area which is paid less emphasis in the U.S. schools.
The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test and other state assessment tests can be extremely useful for school districts, teachers, parents and even students. The result of these tests indicate how students across the state are doing, and if the techniques implemented by Texas educators are working in the classrooms.
What is the TAKS Test?
TAKS was established in 2003 as the statewide assessment test. Texas state law requires that students in grades three through eleven complete a yearly reading and math assessment. Writing assessments are completed by fourth and seventh graders, and science is required for the fifth, tenth, and eleventh grades. Social Studies tests are implemented in the eighth, tenth and eleventh grades. TAKS is designed to see how well a student is able to acquire, learn and use the specific skills and goals outlined in an instructional unit or year-long curriculum that is taught according to state educational standards.
What do the Results Mean?
After the TAKS are scored, parents have access to the results. Guides have been created to help parents understand their child’s scores. Additionally, the state of Texas has produced informational booklets to help educators, parents and students understand the various aspects and ideas behind TAKS. Your child’s school should be able to provide you with this information, or tell you where to find it. The Texas Education Agency has also created a family study guide so students are able to sharpen the skills they will need for each test. Past tests are available online so that students can use actual tests for practice as well.
Helping Your Child Prepare for the TAKS Test
Create a study routine and schedule. Chances are that students will not study unless they know that it is expected of them. By scheduling a regular, mandatory study time, you will also know when you should be available to answer your child’s homework questions.
If you notice that these study sessions are not helping your child improve, you may want to look into professional educational services or a tutoring program. Tutoring has helped thousands of children across the nation catch up with their peers in academic subjects. A good program will identify the areas where your student needs help most. Some tutoring centers now implement assessment tests before creating your child’s lesson plans. They can create personalized lesson plans from these results. A tutor will give your child individual attention and work with your child’s particular learning style.
Finding the right tutor for you can be tough. When looking for someone to help prepare your child for the TAKS test, make sure the tutor is state-certified. State-certified tutors are licensed and are up-to-date on Texas’ educational standards.
There are a number of public school districts in the Houston area. All are independent of each other and have certain standards and criteria to meet. While there are no fees to attend public school, you are required to reside in the school district and attend the school in your zoned area. If attendance at a particular school is desired, you should research the school(s) prior to renting or buying your housing in order to best meet your child’s educational needs. Transportation is available for children to and from school. All districts have websites and the Texas Education Agency website has details of all Houston school districts.
All schools keep a similar calendar. Some districts may have different in-service days, but basically school starts around mid August and ends around mid May. There is a weeks off for Thanksgiving (third week in November), and approximately two weeks off for Christmas and New Year. There is also a one week long Spring Break, usually in March. In addition, there are several days off every year for public holidays.
Below is a list of school districts in the Houston area:
Aldine ISD www.aldine.k12.tx.us 281-449-1011
Alief ISD www.aliefisd.net 281-498-8110
Chennelview ISD www.channelview.isd.esc4.net 281-452-8002
Clear Creek ISD www.ccisd.net 281-332-2828
Crosby ISD www.crosbyisd.org 281-328-9200
Cypress Fairbanks ISD www.cfisd.net 281-897-4000
Deer Park ISD www.dpisd.org 281-930-4600
Galena Park ISD www.galenaparkisd.com 713-672-7491
Goose Creek ISD www.gcisd.net 281-420-4800
Houston ISD www.houstonisd.org 713-892-6000
Huffman ISD www.huffmanisd.net 281-324-1871
Humble ISD www.humble.k12.tx.us 281-540-5000
Katy ISD www.katyisd.org 281-396-6000
Klein ISD www.kleinisd.net 281-655-6160
La Porte ISD www.laporte.isd.esc4.net 281-604-7000
North Forest ISD www.nfisd.org 713-633-1600
Pasadena ISD www.pasadenaisd.org 713-920-6800
Sheldon ISD www.sheldonisd.com 281-459-7301
Spring ISD www.springisd.org 281-586-1140
Spring Branch ISD www.springbranchisd.com 713-464-1511
Tomball ISD www.tomballisd.net 281-357-3100
Waller ISD www.waller.isd.esc4.net 936-931-3685