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:
Joseph Gauld is a distinguished educator who founded Hyde Schools in 1966. He very kindly agreed to answer some questions about Hyde Schools and his educational philosophy. The Editor.

 

1. Tell us a bit about the crisis of conscience which you had back in 1966. This is how the concept of Hyde Schools was shaped, correct?
As a director of admissions who taught calculus and coached football in 1962, I had a crisis of conscience when I realized I was part of a competitive educational system valuing certain abilities that blocked the full development of the unique potential of students.
As a mathematics teacher and varsity basketball and football coach in the 50s and 60s, I was inspired to start a new school because of an experience in an advanced calculus class I was teaching. My brightest student, who ultimately received the highest grade in the class, exhibited very little genuine curiosity in his own learning or that of others, relying almost exclusively on his innate abilities, despite the fact I encouraged him repeatedly to challenge himself.
 
 On the other side of the spectrum, there was another student in the same class who was the classic “plugger.” Although he had considerable difficulty with the material, he embodied all of the qualities and virtues I hoped that schools would espouse: curiosity, strong work ethic, concern for others, honesty, etc. I praised his effort, yet ultimately—and reluctantly—gave him the lowest grade in the class.
 
 This example, represented to me what was wrong . . .read more
Small Classes

Small classes are at the top of the list. If the private high school you are looking at doesn't have small classes, what's the point? Now, small can be interpreted in different ways. But typically a class size of 12-15 students will allow students plenty of interaction with their teacher. That's really what you are looking for anyway when you consider sending your child to a private high school.

Small classes mean that your child won't just be a number. It's very difficult to hide in a small class. Some teens prefer to sit on the edges and observe. A small class draws students into the discussions and activities. From a teaching point of view small classes are beneficial because the teacher can see how each student is doing. Discipline is not an issue in a private high school as a rule, so small class sizes have little impact on that aspect of classroom management. The real
bottomline benefit is that true teaching and learning can occur. That's, after all, what you want anyway.

Highly Qualified Teachers

By highly qualified we mean a first degree in the subject being taught complemented by an advanced degree. The intrinsic passion a teacher has for his subject should be fortified by the requisite coursework in that subject specialty. In other words,  if a teacher is teaching physics or calculus, he should have a respectable first degree in those subjects. Preferably honors degrees. Adding a masters degree . . .read more
Students in private schools must follow their school's guidelines and directives when it comes to using personal technology. Personal technology includes devices such as laptops, desktops, cell phones, Blackberries, PDAs, language translators, video players, and MP3 players.What is somewhat perplexing to many mature teachers is that none of these devices were in common use ten years ago. The reality is that young people have all some or all of these devices and use them naturally, freely and without much thought.
 
As a rule there are limits on these devices and their use in private schools. Let's look at five things you are not supposed to do with personal technology. Breaking the rules in your school could land you in a heap of trouble, including expulsion. If you are a parent, have a discussion with your child. Review her school's personal technology use policy. Help her understand the limits and the reasons why. Remind her further that she has no rights in a private school. So if the school disciplines her for an infraction, there is no recourse.

Private school students are covered by contract law, not constitutional rights. Her rights and privileges are clearly detailed in the contract you, her parent, signed with the school. This is a legal and binding document.

Here then are five things you must not do with personal technology while under school jurisdiction.

1. Harrass
Harrassing is broadly defined as bothering somebody. It takes many forms and runs the gamut from racial . . .read more
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 . . .read more
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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.