High School Issues

Learn more about high school academics, discipline policies and other issues relevant to private schools. Here we cover dress codes, explain the difference between AP and IB courses and discuss teen suicide. You’ll also find information on study abroad programs, codes of conduct and the best graduation gifts.
View the most popular articles in High School Issues:
Most schools use letter grades these days. But not every school uses the same letter grade scheme. This can cause problems when it comes time to send transcripts off to college admissions offices. The A at one school may not be equivalent to the A at another school.
 
The most common grade scheme is the following:

A+  97-100
A    93-96
A-   90-92
B+  87-89
B    83-86
B-   80-82
C+  77-79
C    73-76
C-   70-72
D+  67-69
D    63-66
D-   60-62
F     Below 60

If your school uses a variation of this scheme, then be sure to send a key or explanation sheet attached to each transcript. Failure to do so could cause mis-interpretation of students' results.
 
How does this tie in with GPA?
 
GPA or Grade Point Average is numerical equivalent of all your letter grades totalled and averaged. The numerical equivalents for letter grades are as follows:
A = 4.0
B = 3.0
C = 2.0
D = 1.0
F = 0.0
 
So, in theory if an A is 4.0, an A+ is higher. At some institutions that is the case. To put grades into perspective most graduate schools will require a 3.0 GPA for admission. American public schools set the benchmark at 1.0 for graduation.

 

Every year there are reports of private school students taking their own lives. Suicide casts a terrible pall over any school community. It just seems so pointless, so senseless. Yet, had members of the community acted on the signals the young person was most likely sending, that suicide could have been prevented.
 
The academic work in private school can be very heavy. The pressures to succeed, to get into the best college, to not let parents and others down combined with the reality of adolescent uncertainities can create a climate for depression. Depression can lead to suicide. But suicide is preventable.
 
Suicide is preventable.
 
Suicide is the 3rd largest killer of young adults between the ages of 15-24. But teen suicide is preventable. You just have to know the warning signs.

As a parent you need to spend quality time with your child. Listen to him. Don't talk at him. Share your experiences and feelings. Be available. Keep firearms and other weapons locked up.

As a student you need to be aware of what is going on with your peers. If you notice somebody acting strangely or talking about 'ending it', take it seriously. Get help.

As an administrator you need to promote awareness of suicide. You need to proactively hold training for suicide prevention. Create 24/7 access to an anonymous suicide hotline. Offer help and counseling. Above all do not stigmatize students or staff for reporting information.

As a teacher you need to be...
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Read the educational listservs these days and you realize hat iPhones are leading the convergence charge. The Blackberry revolutionized the way business stays connected. The iPhone is doing the same thing in education. Actually cellphones in general keep students connected in ways we never would have thought possible even 5 years ago.
 
Cellphones' big advantage when it comes to learning is that you don't have to build any local infrastructure. In other words you don't have to wire buildings and set up servers to support a cellphone. The cellphone service provider does that. There's still a ways to go but it won't be much longer before teachers will routinely deliver information and content via students' iPhones or similar devices.

The text novel craze which started in Japan a year or so ago has spread to the U.S. Do we care that kids are writing in this specific genre? Not at all! The point is that they are writing! Writing with passion and with a vengeance. Writing the way they want to. How extraordinary.

Back to cellphones.These handheld devices are revolutionizing the way we live and the way we teach.Whether it is an iPod, an eeePC or an iPhone, it is getting smaller by the year. It is incorporating more functionality and power and features.

Convergence. Now that's a good thing.

 

We parents hold our breath as our children enter the teenage years. They face so many temptations. They cope with so much peer pressure. Popular culture bombards them with notions of what is acceptable and what's cool. What's a parent to do? Sometimes it seems as though we are swimming against the tide. A very strong tide.
 
Regardless of what pressures our teenagers face, our job as responsible parents is to teach our children that there will be consequences for their actions. Some consequences are positive. Others will be negative. For example, when our teenagers learn to drive, they are taught that it is illegal to run a red light. Or to drink and drive. Those consequences seem pretty obvious. Most teenagers, but not all, tend to obey those basic rules. That's the point. We try very hard to teach our teenagers that rules are there for a purpose. You perhaps many not agree with the reason for the rule. You do, however, have to be aware of the rules and obey them.
 

 
But what about the consequences our children might face for breaking the rules in a private school? You see, private and publc schools are very different when it comes to discipline. The difference between public and private school becomes even more noticeable when it comes to the handling of the big issues such as substance abuse among other disciplinary matters. There will be immediate consequences in most private schools for infractions of the...
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Students sitting in rows of desks listening to a teacher lecture? You are not likely to find this scenario in a school which uses Harkness Tables. The brainchild of wealthy industrialist Edward Harkness, an Exeter alumnus, Harkness Tables are oval tables which seat 12-18 students together with their teacher. You cannot hide in the back of the classroom which uses Harkness Tables. That's the point. Engaged students learn.
 
In ancient times teaching was collaborative - think Socrates and Quintillian - but somewhere in our Victorian-Edwardian past we got off the rails and began lining children up in regimented rows of chairs and desks. Maria Montessori and Rudolph Steiner rebelled against this sort of regimentation. Their classrooms became what we would now call activity centers.
 
High school lab courses such as chemistry and physics have always been interactive and hands on. Discussion of findings and research are encouraged in that collaborative environment. Every member of the class has an opinion and a finding. That is the idea behind the Harkness Table. Every member of the class is encouraged to be an active participant. Because eye contact is a critical element of this style of learning, the Harkness Table's oval shape is ideal. It allows everybody around the table to see and be seen. Students and teacher interact. The teacher facilitates without dominating the lesson. He guides and steers the learning process. Maria Montessori would be thrilled.
 
Harkness Tables are widely used in prep...
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High School Issues

Academics

A comprehensive look at high school academics. We cover grades, AP and IB courses, and the post graduate year. Learn the secrets of A+ students. Explore summer abroad programs, read interviews with experts and get valuable tips on excelling academically.

Discipline

A brief look into high school discipline policies. From codes of conduct to uniforms and dress code, we'll provide information on the latest practices in private schools.

Other Issues

From graduation gifts to preventing teen suicide, this section provides information on a variety of topics affecting high school students. Learn what to do when your child is expelled, you need financial aid or you’re looking for a teaching job. Get expert advice on protecting your teen from substance abuse, finding the right high school and handling personal technology on campus.