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EDUCATION REPORT - Interest Grows in International High Schools in US

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This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

Some American high schools are for students with special interests, like science or the arts. New York City even has a program for those interested in the food service industry, called Food and Finance High School.

New York also has what are called international high schools, or internationals, for immigrant students. They must be new learners of English who have been in the United States less than four years.

The first school opened in nineteen eighty-five. The city will begin the new term next month with ten.

New York works with a nonprofit organization, the Internationals Network for Public Schools. Support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has helped the network expand.

Oakland, California, opened an international high school last year. San Francisco and Los Angeles plan to follow in two thousand nine. Other cities are also showing interest.

The network says the graduation rate was seventy percent last year in the four New York schools open long enough to have graduating classes. That, compared with twenty-three and a half percent for English language learners in all of the city schools.

Over all, New York officials recently reported that the city's four-year graduation rate, excluding August graduates, reached fifty-two percent last year.

At the same time, they reported that the city's dropout rate fell below fifteen percent. The Internationals Network says its schools have an average dropout rate of just five percent.

Claire Sylvan is the executive director of the group. She says students drop out mainly because their families need them to work or because parents arrange marriages for girls.

The network helps find teachers and trains them in the teaching method of the internationals. Claire Sylvan says the teaching approach is to have students use their different strengths to help each other. They work in small groups, but she says they are not grouped by ability.

She says the students discuss issues, then produce a product like a paper, a play, a poster or a report. They learn English as they work.

Some came from traditional schools where, they said, other students made fun of them. Students in the international high schools immigrated from more than ninety countries. The Internationals Network says more than ninety percent of the graduates continue on to college.

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. You can hear archives of our programs at www.unsv.com. I'm Steve Ember.

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