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#1
Old 07-20-2010, 07:56 AM
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What happens when High School students must transfer mid-term or close to graduation?

Here in the US, unless a child's parents are willing to pay, they must go to the public school that belongs to their neighborhood, and if the family moves, the child generally must transfer unless the move is within the school zone.

What happens when a high school student's parents move late in the child's high school career, or mid-term? I was trying to imagine what would have happened if my family had tried to take me to California when I was 17 years old, and what would happen if I jumped in to classes mid-term, for example coming in 3 days before a month-long project due date that didn't have an equivalent at my prior school, leaving me 3 days to hack up a poor excuse for a paper and get a D, or quite possibly a big fat F. I'm also curious what happens when class credits/counts don't line up, for example if a 17 year old moves into a new high school that requires 4 English literature credit hours, but they are a Senior/12th grader but weren't registered for an English lit class that year at their former school since it required only 3 credit hours. Is the student stuck repeating their senior year? It seems difficult to imagine that there wouldn't be procedures for this, since it probably happens all the time due to no fault of the student. Are there formal rules, such as saying that a student is exempted from prior curriculum disparities, or that they are given extra time to "catch up" before grades start to count, or does it count on the kindness of the teachers and principal to have mercy on the new kid who enrolled on the day of the Civil War History Unit Exam, when the student's prior school doesn't cover the Civil War until later in the year? Also, how would a teacher grade a transfer student for the term work done before the transfer in terms of computing a final grade? Is it simply pro-rated as if the missed work didn't exist, or does it all have to be made up eventually, or can the student transfer previous school quiz/test/homework scores on an individual basis? E.g. child transferred in mid-term, after 3 tests had already been given in the new school, so the teacher takes 3 test grades from the prior school and counts those instead.

All the public school transfers I was forced to undergo were Elementary school ones, so it arguably wasn't as bad since I had plenty of years to catch up on whatever I missed due to the transfer before it could rationally affect my ability to graduate, and they don't flunk 2nd graders for missing a project.

It just doesn't seem fair to punish a child when they literally had no legal say in the move, unlike college credit transfer fiascos which are arguably under the control of the student, so if a college student attempts to transfer half of a BA degree from Virginia Tech to UCLA and finds that only half of their coursework will be accepted at UCLA, it's more reasonable to make them take more coursework since they chose to transfer.

Last edited by robert_columbia; 07-20-2010 at 07:58 AM.
#2
Old 07-20-2010, 08:39 AM
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I moved around a lot growing up, but thankfully my last move was my sophomore year of high school. In that case, my new school just sort of said, "Yeah, that nutrition class you took is almost like gym class, so we'll give you a pass on that. And even though you didn't take history, your economics class will count for that."

The schools do not want to fail anyone for transferring. I can't imagine any teacher not exempting you form a big project due right when you get there (and if they wouldn't exempt me, I'd go to the principal). When I moved in 5th grade, I came in with a month left in the new school (and 1 week left at my old school...I got screwed over big time) and they just let me do my best on the tests but there was no question of failing me for not doing well on those tests or not turning in the big end-of-year project.

Things get trickier as you get closer to graduation. My parents moved at the beginning of my sister's senior year. As I recall, she had the choice of either moving with them or staying with a friend to finish out the school year at her old school (she went to the new school). I had a friend choose to stay with his aunt and uncle to stay at our school when his family moved.

I had another friend who's family moved about halfway through her senior year. She home-schooled for the rest of the year and the school let her come back and walk for graduation.

Schools are used to kids coming and going throughout the year and are usually pretty good about having your old classes transfer as something in the new school.

I'm not sure how things are handled now that standardized testing is the norm, though. When I moved to VA testing was not a requirement for graduation like it is now.
#3
Old 07-20-2010, 09:28 AM
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My best friend moved halfway through our senior year. (as an aside, I think that's a horrible thing for a parent to do - unless it's a matter of life and death, let your kid finish the school year before you move!)

If I recall correctly, she ultimately graduated from our high school. They worked out some deal where she finished up the local requirements at the new high school, and graduated with a diploma from our high school.

She still has a lot of resentment towards her mother for doing it as well. It was not a life & death situation; her mother just decided she didn't like her job or this town and had to move 10 hours away.
#4
Old 07-20-2010, 09:44 AM
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My niece came to live with me last year and had to transfer to the high school here. She was partly into her junior year.

The school here matched up credits as best they could, as mentioned upthread. They had to get a little creative with it, but it worked out.

Assignments she was not in on (such as the project mentioned in the OP) simply did not figure into her grades for the year.
#5
Old 07-20-2010, 10:04 AM
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A HS friend of mine immigrated from Romania in the middle of his sophomore year, speaking no English. He had been in a super-competitive German-language science high school in Romania. My stupid school didn't let him test out of anything, so he ended up graduating a year behind.

However, because he was super-smart, and because he already had a much more solid math and science background than the vast majority of people, he ended up in basically all AP classes by his senior year, so he had about a year of college credit and ended up catching up that way.
#6
Old 07-20-2010, 10:20 AM
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It's refreshing to know that schools handle those cases in a logical/reasonable manner. I expected horror stories...
#7
Old 07-20-2010, 10:24 AM
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Generally speaking, when kids switch districts (not just schools) in the semester before graduation, they graduate from their original schools and the original school awards those final credits based on the work the kid did in the new school. This avoids any problems with a kid transfering to a state with very different graduation requirements.

When a kid transfers mid-term before the last term of senior year, creative solutions have to be found.

Sometimes credits can be fudged to fit new graduation requirements--like a semester of health that was required at the old school can be made to sub for a semester of PE that is required at the new school, or a creative writing course that isn't even offered at the new school can be made to sub for a fine arts requirement. Like that. IME this can be a minefield and if a kid is going through this they need everything in writing: I've seen sophomore transfers told "Oh, yeah, that will substitute" and then two years later, on the eve of graduation, told that it won't.

Sometimes kids can make up classes in unorthodox ways: Texas has a geography requirement that many older transfers don't have. They really don't want to take a freshman class for a whole year, but they can complete the course in about twenty hours in our computer lab. It's boring, but not the worst thing in the world. They can take a whole year to do it whenever they have a free hour/on their lunches. There are also distance learning programs and summer school to catch kids up, and testing out is theoretically possible, though you really have to know your material for that to work.

When kids come mid-semester, they usually come with grades for previous grading periods, so we just put those in. Teachers (at least at my school) have a LOT of discretion about grades, and I have known some teachers to do things I consider pretty unfair (like require a major project be completed in a few days, or a novel read in a very short period of time). Personally, If I have a kid come in the last week or two of the grading period, I give them a 70 but make a deal that I will raise the grade to whatever they earn the next grading period--provided they pass the next grading period. I think this is fair because if they turn out to be a slacker, they will still fail the semester, and if they turn out to be a stellar student, they have a little time to find their feet before they have to show it. Honest to god, I'll do this for kids who transfer in any point of the grading cycle, if they are clearly overwhelmed and they clearly improve the next cycle. Transfering is really, really hard on kids and even the best ones tend to miss assignments and things because they just don't know what's going on--there is so much new information coming at them. I don't think a kid's GPA should take a hit because of that.
#8
Old 07-20-2010, 10:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steadierfooting View Post
It's refreshing to know that schools handle those cases in a logical/reasonable manner. I expected horror stories...
Cynically, the school cares more than the kid about graduation: our graduation rate is one of the most important elements of our state ranking.
#9
Old 07-20-2010, 11:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Athena View Post
(as an aside, I think that's a horrible thing for a parent to do - unless it's a matter of life and death, let your kid finish the school year before you move!)
What makes you think that parents necessarily get to choose when they move?
#10
Old 07-20-2010, 11:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steadierfooting View Post
It's refreshing to know that schools handle those cases in a logical/reasonable manner. I expected horror stories...
My parents tried to pull this shit on me when I was a senior in high school. It was at the beginning of the school year and they were living in an apartment an hour away in another town (to be closer to work) and basically paying bills at the old house while I lived there alone and attended school in that district. My Mom got pissed off about something or other and decided she was going to force me to live with them in their new apartment, which would require changing school districts.

When I talked to the school about it, they told me that I would have to repeat the entire year if I transferred out. This was October 2000 and they are telling me that if I switched schools I would not graduate until June 2002. (I don't know if that's true or not, but that's what I was told.) When I brought this up to my Mom she absolutely would not listen. I had already submitted my college applications and no way in hell was I about to repeat a year of high school for no reason.

So I left instead, I guess you might call it running away in the sense that I did it completely and totally against the will of my parents. It's certainly not the only reason I left, but it sure didn't make me more inclined to try and work things out. Ultimately I moved in with my Aunt, legally emancipated, and graduated on time.

This was in Michigan.
#11
Old 07-20-2010, 11:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acsenray View Post
What makes you think that parents necessarily get to choose when they move?
As I said, if it's a matter of life and death, then yeah, sure, shit happens and sometimes you can't avoid it. But how many times are people forced to move, right now, and can't put it off a few months until their kid graduates? I'm sure there are times that it happens, but not a whole lot.

In my friend's case, her mother had a job and a house and a life. She simply decided she wanted to move and gave no thought to what it would do to her kids.
#12
Old 07-20-2010, 11:42 AM
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I moved in the middle of tenth grade, from Montreal to Los Angeles. Talk about culture shock. Even the tiniest thing, that every student took for granted, was different.

The first months were difficult. But I gradually figured it out, and within a year it was my new home.

Last edited by suranyi; 07-20-2010 at 11:44 AM.
#13
Old 07-20-2010, 11:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by olivesmarch4th View Post
When I talked to the school about it, they told me that I would have to repeat the entire year if I transferred out.
LOL Judy Hensler told Beaver this on an episode of Leave It To Beaver when Beaver was going to move out of Mayfield. They did move houses but stayed in Mayfield
#14
Old 07-20-2010, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Athena View Post
As I said, if it's a matter of life and death, then yeah, sure, shit happens and sometimes you can't avoid it. But how many times are people forced to move, right now, and can't put it off a few months until their kid graduates? I'm sure there are times that it happens, but not a whole lot.

In my friend's case, her mother had a job and a house and a life. She simply decided she wanted to move and gave no thought to what it would do to her kids.
I think the problem is that sometimes it is somewhere between "life and death" and "totally whimsical": situations like: it's the middle of your kid's senior year and you get offered a job that pays 15K more a year and has more potential growth than your current job but it won't wait. It's not enough extra to afford to set up two households, but making the move could be the difference between retiring into the lower-middle class or into the upper-middle class--not life or death, but not a small difference. Or your dad dies and your mom wants you to move closer to home--it won't kill her not to have you there, but it's a rough time in her life. How do you balance your mom's pain against your kid's pain? That sort of decision is often the type parents have to make when deciding to move, and it isn't easy.

For seniors, the best solution is often to find a friend who is willing to room and board the kid for the rest of the year--especially if you can afford to pay towards that board (kids EAT!).
#15
Old 07-20-2010, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Markxxx View Post
LOL Judy Hensler told Beaver this on an episode of Leave It To Beaver when Beaver was going to move out of Mayfield. They did move houses but stayed in Mayfield
I'm wondering if it could possibly have been true? It wouldn't be the first time my school talked out of its ass.
#16
Old 07-20-2010, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Athena View Post
As I said, if it's a matter of life and death, then yeah, sure, shit happens and sometimes you can't avoid it. But how many times are people forced to move, right now
When someone offers you a job and wants you to start working, you usually don't get much leeway, not unless you're rich enough to own both a house and an apartment, anyway. And if you're selling a house and moving into another one, or ending one lease and signing another, your schedule is pretty much set by the contracts you're signing. So, I'd say most of the time when people move, they pretty much have to move when they have to.
#17
Old 07-20-2010, 11:56 AM
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Ontario, Canada has done several years work on standardizing the curriculum across the province for just this reason. I believe they're finished all grades now and the intent is to teach the same subjects in the same year in every school in the province. High schools still have leeway in what optional courses they offer but the goal is to make changing schools easier on all involved.
#18
Old 07-20-2010, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by acsenray View Post
When someone offers you a job and wants you to start working, you usually don't get much leeway, not unless you're rich enough to own both a house and an apartment, anyway. And if you're selling a house and moving into another one, or ending one lease and signing another, your schedule is pretty much set by the contracts you're signing. So, I'd say most of the time when people move, they pretty much have to move when they have to.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manda JO View Post
I think the problem is that sometimes it is somewhere between "life and death" and "totally whimsical": situations like: it's the middle of your kid's senior year and you get offered a job that pays 15K more a year and has more potential growth than your current job but it won't wait. It's not enough extra to afford to set up two households, but making the move could be the difference between retiring into the lower-middle class or into the upper-middle class--not life or death, but not a small difference.
Yeah, but why are you looking for a job/selling a house halfway through your kid's senior year? Why not wait until after they're done to start looking?

It's one thing if you don't have a job - that's like a "life and death" situation IMO. But if you are gainfully employed, will it kill you to wait a few more months? In most cases the answer is no.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Manda JO View Post
Or your dad dies and your mom wants you to move closer to home--it won't kill her not to have you there, but it's a rough time in her life. How do you balance your mom's pain against your kid's pain? That sort of decision is often the type parents have to make when deciding to move, and it isn't easy.
In my opinion, unless there's extenuating circumstances (like Mom is in bad health and really can't get along without someone to take care of her) as adults we put kid's needs in front of our own need's. Grandma should not expect the family to move to support her grief; if she needs to be close, she moves to be with them, not the other way around.

And just to clarify (again) - I'm not saying there's NO situation where you should move halfway through a kid's senior year. Of course there are - sometimes jobs are lost, health issues come up, etc etc. I'm just saying that as adults, we sometimes forget how traumatizing things like this are to kids, and uprooting kids from their homes & friends shouldn't be done without some thought about whether it truly is necessary.

Both my friend from high school and Mr. Athena still carry a lot of resentment and sadness by being uprooted, 20 and 30 years later. Mr. Athena didn't move in his senior year - it was between his 10th & 11th grade year - but it was still really hard on him.
#19
Old 07-20-2010, 12:45 PM
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I changed schools literally every single Christmas break in High School (among 4 schools in 3 states) so I do know how difficult it is. But I also know that when parents make these choices it's often a roll of the dice: yeah, kids before adults, but Mom just lost her husband of 50 years. Her pain is a 10/10 and your kids pain on moving is going to be a 5/10. Or you've been offered a transfer at work and you could turn it down but they won't offer it again, and is it better to be able to pay for your kid's college or to give them a chance to go to their senior prom? There are really hard choices that aren't "life or death", which is what makes them so complicated.
#20
Old 07-20-2010, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Athena View Post
Yeah, but why are you looking for a job/selling a house halfway through your kid's senior year? Why not wait until after they're done to start looking?
Working isn't a hobby that you can just start and stop as the mood strikes you. Sometimes you know it's time to move on. Sometimes opportunity comes knocking, and it knocks but once. These things can make a real freakin' difference in your short-term and long-term future. Things happen at work that are far worse than having to change high schools. There's time to make up anything that goes wrong when you're 17. Once you're working, things are far too real and serious. What school your kid is going to graduate from -- eh, maybe unfortunate, but it certainly would never trump a job issue.
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