Many international schools around the world are as rigorous
as the best U.S. schools. In general, Foreign Service youth
return to the U.S. prepared to continue their education
without significant knowledge gaps. One exception is U.S.
History and Government, which is often missing from
international school curriculums. Fortunately, it is
possible to plug the holes in a variety of ways. (Note:
While all of these options will help FS youth stay on par
with their U.S. peers, some of these options may not result
in transferable credits. This is an important consideration
for teenagers who may return to the U.S. toward the end of
their academic careers and graduate from a U.S. high
• Enroll students in online U.S. History classes.
• Research the grade level U.S. History curriculum in your home state and purchase the appropriate
for self study.
• Pool resources with other Foreign Service families at post and hire a qualified individual to design
and teach a
U.S. History class outside of regular school hours.
• Spend a few moments each day learning about U.S. History by reading books, playing games,
television, or exploring the internet.
Supplemental Education Allowance
If the "base school at post" (usually the least expensive “adequate” school as determined by the Department of State Office of Overseas Schools) does not provide instruction in academic subjects generally offered by public schools in the United States (such as United States history or government), the authorizing officer may authorize an amount up to $3,000 per child per school year for supplementary instruction.
For more information, click here to read Department of State Standardized Regulation 270—Education Allowance, sections 274.12 and 276.9. (http://aoprals.state.gov/content.asp?content_id=249&menu_id=81).
High school students who are self-motivated and have reliable internet connections may find it convenient to supplement their international school educations with online classes. Those who plan to attend school in Virginia upon returning to the U.S. may wish take advantage of Virtual Virginia, a state-run program that offers online AP and foreign language courses. Other students may prefer to take one or more classes from a University-affiliated or private online high school.
The Virginia Virtual Advanced Placement School (VVAPS) offers online AP and foreign language courses to students across the commonwealth and the nation. The courses utilize the Desire2Learn course management software to maximize the interactivity of each class. Each course contains video segments, audio clips, whiteboard and online discussions as well as text. E-Teachers are available for telephone conversations with students throughout the school day. VVAPS classes offer a rich multimedia learning environment that appeals to a variety of learning styles. They can be scheduled flexibly throughout the day, as courses do not have to be taken in 'real' time. The cost is $650 per class, excluding the cost of required textbooks, plus an additional $75 communication fee for international students.
In 2009 the Virginia General Assembly passed House Bill 2619 (http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?091+ful+HB2619ER+pdf), which ensures that “course credits earned for online courses taken in the Department of Education's Virtual Virginia program will transfer to Virginia public schools.” That’s great news for Foreign Service youth who plan to graduate from Virginia high schools! However, it’s important to remember that Virtual Virginia does not award credit for the classes or provide a transcript. While they do award numeric grades, they do not award letter grades since different Virginia school districts have different grading scales. Ideally, an overseas international school will agree to put the Virtual Virginia course on a student’s transcript and award an appropriate letter grade based on the Virtual Virginia numeric grade. If an international school does not agree to these terms, Foreign Service youth should consider enrolling in Virtual Virginia as a homeschooled student (even if they attend school). In theory, this will allow Virginia schools to account for the transfer credits when a student returns to Virginia from overseas and enrolls in a local public school.
For more information about Virtual Virginia, contact Dr. Erin Berry at 1-866-650-0026 or email@example.com. You should also have a conversation with your anticipated Virginia public school before enrolling in Virtual Virginia courses. Note that the registration deadline is the end of the first week of school for your Virginia district. The deadline for spring semester 4X4 block courses is the first week of the spring semester.
IMPORTANT: While Maryland has a similar program—the Maryland Virtual Learning Opportunities Program—it is only for the benefit of students who are enrolled in a Maryland public school and have school approval to take online courses.
Public and Private Online Schools
There are hundreds of online high schools but quality, cost and accreditation varies, so do some research before enrolling. The following University-affiliated online high schools are among those that offer regular and AP classes, including U.S. History and Government.
IMPORTANT: Do not automatically assume that your local U.S. school district will accept transfer credits from the following institutions. Contact your state Department of Education AND local school district in advance. (Note that the decision is often left to the local school district.)
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Independent Study High School (FSYF Sponsor)
Stanford University EPGY (Education Program for Gifted Youth) Online Middle & High School
Indiana University High School
University of Oklahoma High School
University of Missouri, Center for Distance & Independent Study
University of California College Prep—Open Access
K12 International Academy (accredited online, private school)
Graduation and Standardized Testing Requirements
Graduation and standardized testing requirements vary by state. Don’t automatically assume that an overseas international school education will fulfill all the requirements for a diploma from your home state! If you plan to return to the United States while your child is in high school, contact your state Department of Education AND local school district in advance to verify that all credits from overseas and/or online schools will transfer, and confirm that your child is on track for graduation.
VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION: 800-292-3820
Arlington County Public Schools: 703-228-6000
Fairfax County Public Schools: 571-423-1000
Prince William County Public Schools: 703-791-7200
Loudon County Public Schools: 571-252-1000
History and Social Sciences Specialist for VA Middle and High Schools
Dr. Beverly Thurston: 804-225-2893
Virginia Graduation Requirements
Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) by grade and subject:
MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION: 410-767-0100
Montgomery County Public Schools: 301-309-6277
Prince George’s County Public Schools: 301-952-6000
Maryland Graduation and Testing Requirements
See the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) Title 13A Subtitle 03
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS: 202-442-5885
U.S. History Links
If your kids are too young to worry about high school credits, but they are missing out on U.S. history instruction at school, consider spending a few minutes every day going back in history courtesy of the internet. A number of outstanding “Today in History” sites offer short descriptions of important historical events that occurred on the current day in years past. They can expose your kids to a broad range of topics or serve as a starting point for more in-depth internet research on specific topics. Know of other good links that might interest Foreign Service families? Bring them to our attention at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Library of Congress—American Memory Collection—Today in History
New York Times Learning Network—On This Day
The History Channel—This Day in History
The People History—This Day in History
PBS Freedom: A History of American
Includes a series of 16 webisodes to watch as well as tools and games to test your knowledge
Best of History Websites
Best of History Web Sites is an award-winning portal that contains annotated links to over 1000 history web sites as well as links to hundreds of quality K-12 history lesson plans, history teacher guides, history activities, history games, history quizzes, and more.
Virginia Center for Digital History at the University of Virginia
Diplomatic Studies and Training
U.S. History Games
By no means an exhaustive list, here are some American history games to play alone on the computer or as a family at the kitchen table. Know of another good game that we should include? Send us the information at email@example.com.
Board Games and Card Games
Made for Trade: A Game of Early American Life (TaliCor)—ages 8+
Hail to the Chief (TaliCor)—ages 10+
American Trivia: Junior Edition Board Game (Outset Media)—ages 9+
The People's Choice Presidential Card Game (U.S. Games Systems)—ages 10+
Lewis and Clark Adventure Game (Educational Insights)—ages 6+
U.S. History Books
There is no shortage of interesting books for kids about important events and famous people in America’s history. If you need a place to start, check out the standards of learning (SOL) or curriculum for your home state by grade level. For example, all 2nd grade students in Virginia study American Indians with a focus on the Powhatan, the Sioux, and the Pueblo. In 5th grade, they study the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, George Washington and James Madison. Of course, one benefit of living overseas is that your kids are not held hostage by the SOLs and are free to explore whatever part of history interests them right now! Share your own favorite American History books with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add them to the list.
The American Kids in History series for ages 9-12 brings history to life with text, games, recipes, and activities.
Revolutionary Wary Days
Scholastic’s If You series includes 24 titles for ages 9-12 that explore the life of American kids during various periods in history.
If You Lived in Colonial Times
If You Lived at the Time of the American Revolution
If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon
If You Lived When There Was Slavery in America
If You Lived at the Time of the Civil War
Time for Kids biography series for ages 9-12 includes:
Alexander Graham Bell
The first historical series, Random House Landmark Books continues to fascinate kids after more than 50 years.
Meet Thomas Jefferson
The American Revolution
The Landing of the Pilgrims
The Witchcraft of Salem Village
Scholastic’s In Their Own Words series features biographies of famous Americans for ages 9-12:
U.S. History Videos
A comprehensive list would require a website all its own. But if you watch a show about American history that you think we should know about, send us the title at email@example.com and we’ll add it below.
Liberty's Kids: Complete Series—ages 7+
Liberty Kids is an acclaimed 40-episode, animated series about the experiences of two young teens during the American Revolution. It formerly aired on PBS Kids.
Getting Ahead: U.S. History
From Colonial America to the Horror of 9/11, this four-DVD set chronicles the compelling stories of America's presidents and the eras in which they served.
The History Channel Presents The
An eight-part survey of the personal lives and legacies of the remarkable men who have presided over the Oval Office
The History Channel Presents The Revolution
Liberty! The American Revolution (PBS)
The War That Made America: The Story of the French and Indian War (PBS 2006)
Lewis & Clark - The Journey of the Corps of Discovery (PBS 1997)
The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns (PBS 1990)
Ken Burns Presents: The West (PBS)