George Mason High School
- George Mason High School
7124 Leesburg Pike
- T 1 703 248-5500
- F 1 703 248-5533
- W www.fccps.org/gm
- Memberships: George Mason High School has been recognized for Excellence in Education by the Department of Education
- State/Independent: State (US translation: public)
- Senior School Ages: 13-18
- Senior School Sexes: Co-ed
- Senior School Numbers: Approximately 820 students in grades 8-12
- Teaching Language: English
- SEN: Unknown
- Boarding: Not available
- Uniform: No
- Religion: Non-denominational
Advanced Placement (AP) -
Advanced Placement courses are curricula and exams created by the College Board (who also run the SAT I and II) and are usually much more rigorous than the general course offerings (including those characterizedas "honours") at American high schools. They are also standardized: theAP Algebra III course and exam offered in Connecticut will be the sameAP Algebra III course and exam offered in Islamabad.
"Advanced Placement" means just that- many colleges and universities will award creditfor these coursesif the student has received a 3 or higher(orsome cases,just a 5) on the AP subject exam [All AP exams are for specificsubjects, and the highest score available is a5].Highly competitive first tier colleges and universities, however, do have their own set of requirements (see note below*).
Many good high schools offer 15-22 different AP courses, and - depending on the ones offered by that school- can allow a student to weight his course load with more things he really wants (ie Latin Literature, Latin Vergil or Physics B, Physics B: Mechanical; Physics B: Electricity and Magnetism), unlikemore circumscribedcurricula (ie the IB Diploma).
There are several advantages to taking AP courses:
- They are transferable for students changing schools (a student taking the APWorld History coursein one school or country in the autumn can move to another school and continue on with the same course in the winter if the new school offers that course);
- They give studentsstrong and challenging course work and show university admissions officesthat the student is taking the hardest classes available;
- If the student's university is willing to award credit for courses taken,it can represent a significant savings on tuition fees (it is conceivable that astudent could taketen or fifteen AP courses in high school, and find himself with a couple or three terms of university core studies under his belt, if some or all of the AP courses are similar enough to courses offered by the university).
- The American high school diploma does require that each student complete a certain range of subjects over 4 years to graduate, but there's room for electives and that's where serious students load up with their preferred AP (in addition to the AP versions of the required ones they're taking). That's probably the biggest advantage over other curricula....the advantages of a broad based curriculum, but one easier to fine tune for the more narrowly focused student.
AP coursesare now also accepted by some UK universitiesfor admission (except for some Oxford colleges).
*Top schools (for examplein the Ivy League)may not allow students to use AP courses for credit until their junior year in university, and then only if students achieved 5's on at least five of their AP tests in high school. Of course, they only admitted that student in the first place based on therigour of his course work (based on an IB diploma and/or a high number of AP courses!) and his excellent grades in same.
American High School Diploma (College Preparatory)
International Baccalaureate (Diploma) - Schools offering the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB Dip) prepare students for university entrance by following the IB programme over the final two years of high school. This involves taking six subjects (three at higher level and three at standard level). Assessment is based on a combination of final examinations and course work that are evaluated by external examiners worldwide, and (in some cases for coursework) by internal assessment. IB examinations for each subject are held on the same days for all students worldwide - in May in the Northern Hemisphere and in October in the case of most Southern Hemisphere schools. Each subject is scored from 1-7, and up to 3 additional points may be awarded for TOK (Theory of Knowledge) essays and for the Extended Essay. A minimum of 24 points is required to obtain the IB diploma, while 45 points is the maximum. A school that has 35 diploma candidates in a given year, out of which 32 passed, has a pass rate of 91%. You can judge the results for yourself by knowing that the world average pass rate is approximately 82%. (Pupils may also opt to take certificates in the individual subject areas, though these on their own may be insufficient for university entry.)
Authorised by International Baccalaureate Organization (not to be confused as an inspection or accreditation agency) - International Baccaulareate Organization (by contrast to the US Education turtle of a website, this one goes like a jet and has everything you're looking for right at your fingertips. We know this is a schools guide, but we couldn't help noticing...) The IBO has a very strong system for setting up IB schools and making sure they get off to a good start, but thereafter do not particularly inspect or certify those schools (although they do continue to keep a close eye on schools using their Primary and Middle Years curricula). Instead, they feel the results speak for themselves. Therefore, parents should look at an IB school's exam results and numbers of students qualifying for the IB Diploma: if those numbers are poor or dropping, take a much closer look. If a school is an IB candidate, that's a good sign....but not if it's been a candidate for a decade. Good IB exam and Diploma results do not in themselves tell you about the feel of the school or whether it's right for your child, and no one is looking into every cranny in the same way an American accreditation or Ofsted inspection officer does (not only the academics but also the governance and financial stabilty of a school). But if scores look good, and you like the buzz of the school, there's a good chance you'll find a rigorous programme that will allow a fairly seamless transition from one IB school to another. That is, before the final two year IB Diploma programme. It is very important to note that, in spite of similarities within the curriculum, the two year course is usually regarded by schools as being fairly monolithic. In other words, not made up of identical sequential parts that students can pop in and out of, from school to school, at will. Be aware that the IBO exists to set up curriculum and protocols and they are very good at what they do, but counseling or guiding parents trying to make this transition is not part of their brief.