205.  Academic question:  I attended the ESL Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas this summer. I now work as a high school counselor. We have a student from Mexico in the 12th grade.  We received her transcript but I can' t figure out the grading scale. How do we as a district determine if she should graduate from high school. She is taking English, of course, and another class to work with her on vocabulary. While in Mexico, she took 2 years of English in the 10th and 11th grades.   Should we be looking at the transcript? Again , should we be looking at the grades (numbers associated with the class).


There are many students from ALL PARTS of the world in the same situation. They arrive with a good education from their home countries and bring with them information to prove that they have fulfilled graduation requirements equivalent to US high school graduation courses. In states like New York, students are allowed to take the equivalent of a comprehensive high school exit examination in their own language and, if they pass that test, they receive their high school diploma. On the other hand, there are students who prefer to perfect their English and take advantage of the opportunity that they may attend high school up to age 21/22. In a way, they help themselves by building a paper trail which they may be able to use at a point in time in the future for other immigration or legal purposes.

In general, the grade system in Mexico and in most other countries is very similar to the "letter" grade system used in the USA.  "Sobresaliente" or Outstanding is equivalent to an "A."  "Notable" or "Above Average," is the equivalent of a "B."  "Aprovechado" or "Average," represents a "C."  "Aprobado" or barely passing is like a "D" and  "Suspenso" or FAIL represents an "F."  In the particular secondary system which I attended in Cuba, a foreign language --English in many cases-- would be studied for 5 years, mostly with the "grammar/translation" method which gives little emphasis to speaking or listening.

Because the student you refer to must graduate from high school with knowledge of specific content area expectations or standards, you could determine if these expectations or standards have been met through the primary language, that is, Spanish. For example, if she can demonstrate that she can solve advanced mathematical problems presented in Spanish, then the content area expectations have been met or achieved. Knowing multiplication in Spanish, for instance, is the same as knowing multiplication in English. She may wish to study or take courses other content areas where there are knowledge deficits, and in English. Once she passes the high school exit examination in SPANISH or in the primary language, she may remain in HS or enter junior college or community college.

I would urge her to enter college if she is well prepared, because to enter a junior or community college --at least here in California-- the only requirement is being 18 years old. She may decide to remain in high school, however, since public schooling is free while she may have to pay high tuition costs at a junior or community college.

I truly hope I have helped you and your students.



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