Exchange Students Not At Fault

Gary Shumaker is Ohio field director for Youth For Understanding USA.

“Recently, The Enquirer reported that foreign exchange students “are part of the reason Cincinnati Public Schools’ is in danger of dropping an academic rating category” in the Ohio Report Card (“CPS explains grade drop,” Aug. 14). This statement is both misleading and inaccurate.

The issue that is threatening Cincinnati’s “Effective” status on the Report Card is lowered graduation rates, but the cause isn’t foreign exchange students. It’s that the Ohio Department of Education is incorrectly labeling them as “dropouts,” thus lowering the number of graduating students.

No Child Left Behind formulas help states determine graduation rates, but there is no place in the formula for foreign exchange students who spend one year in a U.S. school. Maria Hernandez Ferrier, a director at the federal Department of Education, has said NCLB does not discourage school districts from taking foreign exchange students and their data is “not to be included in the school-level measurement of adequate yearly progress required by No Child Left Behind.”

But the article paints Ohio’s clerical error as the fault of America’s international guests. And though it does describe the mistaken calculations, the tone could easily discourage schools from taking on exchange students in the hopes of raising their statistics – and there is a bigger picture at stake. What international students can bring to an American high school often goes far beyond what can be calculated into a percentage.

There are numerous individuals who have testified to the ways foreign exchange students enrich our classrooms. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the U.S. military was “enthusiastically” behind international exchange. President Barack Obama said exchanges “break down walls between us” and help reveal our “common humanity.”

But perhaps David Waters, a Missouri high school principal, put it best when he said welcoming foreign exchange students into the community was a “life-changing” experience for his American students, who are “more cognizant of the world around us and the interdependence of our global society.”

School district report cards will change over the years, but the impact of international culture in our schools lasts a lifetime. As someone who has been an exchange organization volunteer and current host parent, I would be happy discuss the virtues of global exchange.”

Read the original article here: CPS Explains Potential Report Card Drop

View Gary’s article here: Exchange Students Not At Fault

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About Youth For Understanding USA

Youth For Understanding (YFU) advances intercultural understanding, mutual respect, and social responsibility through educational exchanges for youth, families and communities. The global YFU network, consisting of partners in more than 60 different countries, is united by the belief that full cultural immersion is the most effective means to gain the skills needed to thrive in an increasingly multicultural, interconnected and competitive global society. YFU has remained a trusted leader of intercultural exchange programs for more than 60 years because of its commitment to safety, reputation for quality, and exceptional support services. Backed by a global team of volunteers, YFU provides cultural education and guidance to all participants. Selected to administer more government and corporate scholarships than any other high school exchange program, YFU is the only organization awarded full-listing for J-1 inbound, outbound and short term exchange by the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET). Through creating global learning opportunities, YFU has promoted international understanding and world peace to more than 250,000 students and their host families. Thousands of parents across the globe trust YFU with their teenagers every year, and thousands of students every year choose YFU to help them discover their inner selves.
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