Oftentimes the priority with a new international student is to get him/her settled with an appropriate class schedule.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What does a school do with a foreign curriculum? What if the student’s documents are not in English? Are there any educational documents (transcripts) from the country of origin that you can trust as authentic?
A: When working with an international student who presents an unfamiliar foreign credential, it is advisable to first contact the international admissions office at a nearby college or university. The staff may have experience with the country in question and may help you understand the curriculum and culture. If the transcript and educational documents are too difficult to translate or validate, ask if the local college or university can help. Below are some credential evaluation associations, providers, and related resources.
- The Association of International Credential Evaluators, Inc. (AICE) is a professional membership association of credential evaluation services and comparative education experts. For a list of AICE member evaluators, search for current members.
- National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) is an association of private and independent foreign educational credentials evaluation services committed to formulating and maintaining ethical standards in the field of foreign educational evaluation. If you are interested in working with a NACES member for credential evaluation, search for current members.
- AACRAO International Education Services (IES) provides evaluations of academic credentials from all countries of the world. Their extensive network enables them to accurately research any educational credential and produce in-depth reports.
- World Education Services (WES)
- Education Credential Evaluators (ECE)
Q: How does one reconcile credits or grades on a foreign transcript, align it with the school system, and place such students in appropriate classes or curriculum track?
A: The basic courses such as mathematics and sciences are usually similar. Other courses may not be as obvious as secondary requirements may differ in the level of rigor or expectations. Inevitably this will take some guesswork in the school counseling office and some testing on the part of individual departments. Setting aside an afternoon or morning for in-house testing for placement purposes can be helpful.
Q: Does the student have appropriate English skills and, if not, how can English proficiency be assessed?
A: Again, see if a local college has an ESL program that can provide some insights into English ability. If not, there are several English language proficiency examinations. The most well-known is TOEFL, Test of English as a Foreign Language, administered by ETS. Other examinations are offered by Cambridge ESOL, such as Young Learners English (YLE), IELTS - International English Learning Testing Systems - used for higher education entry, and CAE - Cambridge Advanced English. Another examination that might be used is the ECCE, Examination for the Certificate of Competency in English, administered by Cambridge Michigan Language Assessments. Local universities may be able to provide guidance on the range of acceptable scores for these exams or have an ESL program on their campus whose staff might also provide advice. It is appropriate to require a TOEFL or TOEFL Junior (depending on the student’s age) score as part of the admissions process, should the school have one.
- NAFSA's Resources for Secondary School International Educators provides a wealth of information relevant for counselors who work with international students.
- The National Association of Independent School’s International Students at Independent Schools: A Guide for Educators is a good guide for counselors at private institutions.
- Crowdsourcing support via NAFSA or an informal listserv group like that for boarding schools is also an option.
- TOEFL. Cambridge English exams such as IELTS, CAE, or YLE, and Cambridge Michigan Language Assessments are just some of the many exams available to measure a student's English proficiency.
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