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Originally posted in the teen forum, and I am far from a teen. I did go to high school and did go to college in NY State, though it was some years ago.

Originally Posted by Jacqui View Post

Hi, all. I'm Jacqui, and I'm sixteen years old. I'm currently in tenth grade at my high school in Sydney (it's a selective one, which means you need to sit an exam to get in. I guess it's kind of like your AP [?] classes, except it's the whole school). Recently, my dad got a job transfer from Sydney to New York, so starting 2007 I'll be living in the US. I just have a couple of questions about your schooling system.

1.) My birthdate is October 12, 1990. In Australia, that means I'm in Year 10, however the school years here are different from those in America. Our school year starts February and ends December, but yours...doesn't. So, if I were to start school next year, around what time/month would I start and what grade would I be going into? Would I go into tenth grade again, or eleventh?
By the way, secondary school in the US (grades 9-12) is generally called "high school"; the next four years, typically culminating in a Bachelor's Degree, is usually called "college," even if you study at and get your degree from a university.

Most high schools in the US begin their year in mid-to-late August, or in early September, sometimes right after the Labor Day holiday. The school year then ends in mid-to-late May or early June. Most high schools operate under the "semester" system, so the school year is divided into a fall and spring semester. The fall semester usually ends in mid-December, and the Spring semester usually begins the second week of January, thus giving students time off to enjoy the holidays for Christmas/Chanukah and New Year's.

This system is a relic of the 19th century in the US, where most of the population was employed in agriculture, and therefore the summer months were needed for children to help with harvesting the crops, and so they were unavailable for school.

By law, the school year must be a certain minimum number of days. However, NY state is definitely in the "snow belt." So school will be cancelled for a number of days each year due to snow. If this means that the legal minimum number of days is not reached, then the school year is extended in late May or June until the requisite number of school days is reached.

As to your birthdate, some schools have strict rules as to grade placement based on birthdate. However, most of these rules are intended to apply to the earliest grades (kindergarten, first grade, etc.). So it is likely that in your case your grade placement would depend more on the subjects you had studied rather than on your birthdate.

Originally Posted by Jacqui View Post

2.) What subjects are compuslory? This may be a weird question, I don't know. In Sydney, for our HSC (equivalent of the SAT) the only compulsory subject we have to do is at least two units of English. We get to pick at least eight other units. In the US (or, more specifically, in New York) would I get that kind of freedom? Or are Sciences, PDHPE and Mathematics compulsory?
In NY State, there are two types of high school diploma, a Regents diploma and a local high school diploma. animallover7249 in the other thread has given you a very good link to the legal requirements for each diploma. If you are intending to go on to further academic study, I think you might be hampered by getting a non-Regents diploma. So while the requirements of the Regents diploma are not literally "compulsory," in practical terms you would probably be safer if you treated them as if they were.

Originally Posted by Jacqui View Post

3.) I read somewhere that you need to do 1 year of PDHPE, four years of English, etc in order to get your high school diploma. As a new international student, would this apply for me also? Would the rules be completely different, or could I take years of study I did in Australia and include them for the diploma (if that makes any sense)?
I think this would depend on your individual school or school district, what their rules were and how they applied them. And the answer you might get from the lowest-level person you might talk with--say, a guidance counsellor--might differ from the answer you would get if your appealed your request to higher levels in the chain of command.

BTW, I don't know what "PDHPE" stands for.

ETA: PDHPE = Personal Development, Health and Physical Education

Well, this may date me, but back when I was in school, physical education (aka phys ed or gym) was taught in the gymnasium or on the athletic field and was not combined with any sort of classroom learning. All "health" education was taught as part of one's biology course or other science course. I think part of the reason for this is that science teachers are educated differently from physical education teachers and so are more qualified to present this information.

Originally Posted by Jacqui View Post

If anyone could help me out, that would be much appreciated.
I'm sorry if I didn't explain myself well; I guess I'm just anxious at the thought of doing Maths next year (I was so relieved I would be dropping it, too!)

Thanks in advance! I look forward to talking to you all on this forum!


Some other things that you did not explicitly ask but that may be relevant. Most students in the US go to public high schools, which are schools funded by the locality in which you live, i.e., government-run schools. (The term "public school" means just the opposite in Britain, i.e., private school.) Which school you are assigned to usually depends on your residence address. So as soon as you know where you will be living, you should contact the Board of Education/Public Schools office in that locality and ask for the office which can tell you your school "zone," at which point your should contact that school, explain your situation, and arrange to meet (possibly with your parents) with a school official who can answer these questions.

Alternatively, when your parents are considering purchasing or renting a house, apartment, condominium, whatever, they should ask the real estate agent which schools are zoned for that residence. If your parents are considering more than one location, then possibly which school would treat you better in terms of granting you academic credits, recognizing the studies you have already completed, etc., should be a major factor in deciding which residence to purchase or rent.

Here in Nashville--which admittedly is not NY State--the realtor with whom my parents dealt in purchasing this house had a description sheet which included the elementary school, middle school, and high school for which this house was zoned. The Nashville Public Schools publish a document, available at every public library and over the web, which gives a profile of every Nashville Public School, and which allows you to compare them to each other. I would imagine that there must be something similar for NY State.
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