The Houston school system has three major levels. After Preschool (age 4 – 5), schools are divided into elementary school including grades 1st – 5th , (age 5 – 11), middle school including grades 6th – 8th (age 11 – 14) and high school including grades 9th – 12th (age 14 – 18). High school classes are defined by 9th grade: Freshman, 10th grade: Sophomore, 11th grade: Junior, 12th grade: Senior.
Expats can look into magnet schools which are geared towards high achievement in business administration, foreign languages, communications, graphic design and many other fields of study.
After finishing high school, a student can attend a local community college, junior college or attend a university where they can obtain an Associate’s Degree, Bachelor or Master’s degree. The highest degree is the doctoral degree (PhD).
Schools are funded by the state and communities. The authorities are the Independent School Districts (ISDs), such as Katy ISD and Houston ISD.
The standard teaching language is English but due to a high percentage of Hispanic students in some areas, classes may also be bi-lingual, with instruction in both English and Spanish. Class-sizes vary by school and are defined by school year. Each student picks curricula and attends courses with various different students from their class of that school year. In Texas, there are generally no more than 20 students per teacher and course. Graduation includes the entire class for that school year.
Schools are defined by attendance zones depending on where the student resides. For example, a student living in Katy will attend a school in the Katy ISD. The school district then assigns the student to a school based on openings but requests for transfers can be placed with the school’s office. In some cases, the parent may be responsible for transportation because the school bus will only transport students from that stop to a specific school.
To enroll, find out which school district is serving your home address, then bring a birth certificate or some proof of age and identity to the school including with your identification and proof of address (for example, electricity bill or phone bill) and the child’s immunization record to the school’s student enrollment or transfer department. Schools may also allow online pre-enrollment for ease of pre-registering for the next school year.
Information on HISD enrollment: http://www.houstonisd.org/HISDConnectDS/v/index.jsp?vgnextchannel=b52c2f796138c010VgnVCM10000052147fa6RCRD