Saturday, June 10, 2006

Fifth Grade Graduation Ceremony

The fifth grade choir singYesterday was the last day of school and the Fifth Grade, who are all entering middle school next year, had a graduation ceremony. It was a real occasion, with visiting speakers, a video compilation of photos and some singing. It was followed by light refreshments and an early release from school for Emily. I didn't video the whole thing, but did take a few movie clips with my camera that I edited together, just to give you a feel it.

Emily and her friendWe loved it. One doesn't normally tend to graduate from primary (= elementary) school in the UK.

On a related note -- congratulations to Emily for doing so well in her exams. She scored within the 99th centile in her maths AG exams and on the 95th centile in her EOGs.

AG Exams

When we lived in England, Emily, along with a few other children in her year, used to go up to the next year for her Maths lessons. When we moved to the US, she found herself covering subjects that she had already covered two years previously. I gave the girls a couple of months to settle in, but Emily's homework was so easy that she was bored by it and just going through the motions to avoid the penalites that would come if the homework were not done. I decided to see her teacher to see what could be done. Unlike her school in England, nothing could be done. We were told, however, that the school runs a special programme for academically gifted children, but that she would have to sit a week's worth of aptitude exams, but that the exam results would not be available until May. This would be too late to get onto the programme, but the AG teacher at the school said that it would help with her middle school placement next year, especially as they have no End of Grade score for last year. The AG teacher said that if Emily sat the exams, she could attend the AG classes pending her results.

I wasn't going to force Emily to sit a load of exams. I think that testing children at every turn is ridiculous. Different children develop different skills at different times and I believe in letting children be children. Unfortunately, the school system doesn't agree with me and I don't want Emily to get bored. As it is, she's cruised through this entire 5th Grade. Anyway, Emily was up for it, so she sat the exams. She scored on the 99th centile for maths and 82nd for english (ie. within the top 1%/18% of those who sat the AG tests in the county). Next year she is doing advanced sixth grade english and seventh/eighth grade maths.

EOG Exams

Another difference between here and the UK is that children do not necessarily progress to the next school grade. In order to progress from one school year to another, children must achieve above a particular level in End of Grade (EOG) exams. If they fail these exams, they are held back to repeat the year. The EOG results for maths are not released until October, but both girls have done well in english. Emily did particularly well as she scored on the 95th centile (ie. within the top 5%, county-wide).


Lorraine said...

I hate to say it but it's probably a very good thing that your children started out school in the UK. The fact that she was 2 years ahead academically speaks volumes about the US system, doesn't it?

Good on your daughter for getting into the AP program (which would probably just be considered the regular curriculum in the UK).

Anonymous said...

Blimey! Writes Q. Well done Emily, I am most impressed. Now it all reminds me of the Simpsons again, especially "Bart gets an F". Just don't kiss the teacher!

Viola said...

Lorraine -- I've heard others say similar things about the US education system. In our experience, Lauren has found the level about right and about the same as she was finding it in the England. On saying that, however, this county was rated third place for the best big-city education in the US and the number one best place to live with the best education by Forbes magazine, so perhaps my view of US education is skewed.

When I have time, I'd like to maybe look into this topic a bit more and do a separate blog post on it.

Q -- Thanks. I'll pass your congratulations on to Emily.

ren said...

I have heard of someone who managed to get a classical education through electives in public school! It really does vary from one county to another and even one school to another.
My husband grew up in the worst school district in the state he lived in. However, he was able to enroll in several enrichment and summer programs. Most likely the school district was given a lot of educational grants because the system was so bad.

When I moved to Brazil from Australia, I had a lot to catch up on. Just to have an idea, what I was studying in 9th grade math in Brazil, my sister's super smart friend was studying it in 11th. That first year was a big struggle, but I made it. They were also more advanced in university as well. I took Biochemistry in my first year of uni in Brazil. Here it is taken in the 3rd year, after a year of general chemistry and organic.

As for letting kids be kids, I agree. I knew how to read by the time I entered kindergarten (thanks to my 2nd grade sister who taught me), so the teachers talked to my parents about advancing me another grade. However, when they tried to give me more advanced things to do, I'd be easily distracted, so they decided it was best to keep me in kindergarten and to let me be a kid!