Edcation system in the USA


School attendance and types of schools. Pre-school and elementary education. Nursery schools and kindergartens which are for children at the age of 4 - 6. The ideal of mass education with equal opportunity for all. Higher education, tuition fees.

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In the U.S.A. there is not a national system of education; it is mainly the responsibility of the individual states. Although the Federal Government often gives money to schools, it exercises very little control over administration or curriculum. Each of 50 states has its own school system and every state wants young people to go to school. The age limits vary 7 to 16 or 6 to 18. Every child gets minimum 13 years of education regardless to child's race, religion, sex, learning problems, physical handicap or ability to speak English. Education is different in various areas of the U.S.A. and there are usually grades 1-12.

All schools are controlled by an elected local body known as the "school board” and by the city and state in which the school is located. There fore there is quite a large difference between schools in different cities and states.

The majority of all schools are public schools, i.e. publicly owned schools, financed by state or local governments. These schools are free. (Public schools in the USA never mean private schools as they do in England). Then there are also private schools which charge high tuition fees and this is why usually only children from rich families attend these schools. But nearly all private schools offer scholarships. Only those private schools which are financed by various religious groups or organizations are, however, much cheaper.

All public schools are mixed schools (coeducational - for boys and girls), some private or church schools remain single-sex.

School attendance is compulsory in the United States between 6 and 16 and the system of education is divided into pre-school and elementary, secondary and higher education.


Almost all state schools are day-schools which have classes from Mondays to Fridays. The beginning of the school year varies in each state from mid-August to midSeptember and the school year ends in May or June. At some schools the school year is usually divided into three terms - fall, spring and summer - similarly as at British schools, at other schools into quarters. After each term or quarter children get a report card which informs their parents about their results at school, and at the end of the school year they get a transcript. Marks in most US schools are: A (excellent)

B (superior, above average)

C (satisfactory)

D (passing grade)

E (completely unsatisfactory).

The school day usually starts between 8 and 9 a.m. and ends at around 3 p.m. It includes a lunch break and sometimes free hours during the day. School uniforms are worn only at private schools.


Pre-school and elementary education includes nursery schools and kindergartens which are for children at the age of 4-6. Most of them are private. Many public schools have kindergartens attached, for the age group between 5 and 6. These kindergartens do not charge any money.

Compulsory education starts at the age of 6. Both elementary and secondary education is comprehensive in the U.S.A. - it means that there is no selection for various types of schools (every school learns the same subjects). Years are called "Grades" in the U.S.A. Elementary school lasts between 6 and 11 years of age. It is from the first till the fifth grade. The children at elementary schools learn to read, write, and do arithmetic, elementary science, history, geography, arts and crafts, physical education and music.

The atmosphere at elementary schools is usually friendly. Teachers keep to the idea that children's happiness and interest are the two most important things.


Secondary education is based on the ideal of mass education with equal opportunity for all. Over 90 per cent of students continue in school until the age of 18. Secondary education is provided by Middle Schools (from 11 to 14 years of age - sixth, seventh and eighth grade) in the areas where they exist, or by High Schools which are often divided into Junior High School (at the age 11 to 14 - sixth to eighth grade) and Senior High School (at the age of 15 to 18 - ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth grade). Where the population is very big, Junior and Senior High schools can be separate institutions.

In large towns or communities there may be a wide choice of secondary schools. In some places you may have the opportunity to attend a specialized school, such as a school for science, a school for the performing arts or a high school for the navy, or to go to the central high school in the area. If a student chooses to remain at the central high school, he or she, again, may have an opportunity to choose among a variety of subjects from traditional ones such as English, modern languages, mathematics, science, history, geography, civics, physical education and from many elective subjects (European history, world political issues, Business education, Foreign languages, Music, Driver education, Health, Computer skills, home management, Black history...).

Some schools may also offer different programs of study; some give an opportunity to choose a level of academic study which is known as a "track". The entrance to the most difficult programs or tracks, usually academic, depends upon what one would like to study in the future and upon one's marks which are also called in the USA "grades". If one has high grades and is interested in a certain field of study, one may enter the higher class, such as advanced biology or physics. On the other hand it is possible to study all subjects, but the level of instruction will not be as high. Students should take on average 17 subjects during their studies. Those who want to enter university should take over 20 subjects.

High schools generally organize much activity outside the classroom; many of them have football, basketball and baseball teams, an orchestra, a choir or a jazz band, and various clubs and societies.

High schools in the USA are comprehensive, coeducational secondary schools. The secondary school system does not include specialized vocational schools as in the Czech Republic, but some high schools may offer specialized courses or subjects, such as business, computer science, running a shop, or music and film appreciation.


The basic school leaving qualification after successful completion of a broad secondary school curriculum is High School Diploma given to students (18) by the individual school or local school district. After passing an examination General Education Diploma (GED) is awarded but it is very exceptional. There is no national school-leaving examination in the U.S.A. but there is a national examination used to help to select students for college or university entrance - the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) which is taken in English and Mathematics.


Higher education is extremely competitive and selective. About one third of high school graduates go on for some "Higher education”. The system of higher education consists of following institutions:

A) THE TWO-YEAR OR COMMUNITY COLLEGES These schools provide continuing general, vocational and semi-professional education for people with a High School Diploma. After two years graduates are awarded Associate of Arts (AA) degree.

B) VO-TECHS (VOCATIONAL AND TECHNICAL SCHOOLS) They offer vocational and technical education in the courses from 6 months to 2 years. After finishing them people usually take an employment

C) UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES Colleges provide undergraduate education leading to the bachelor's degree while universities provide both undergraduate and graduate education leading to the master's and doctor's degrees. Successful applicants are usually chosen on the basis of their highschool transcripts and recommendation from their high school teachers. But it is not enough to have a high school diploma and an interview to be admitted to some universities and colleges. There are two tests which are used by universities as standards for comparison: the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), which measures aptitudes in verbal and mathematical fields and the American College Testing program (ACT), which measures skills in English, mathematics, and the social and natural sciences. Foreign applicants must pass the TOEFL test (Test Of English as a Foreign Language).

Most universities and colleges offer courses of 4 years for undergraduates (the first-year student = Freshman, the second-year = Sophomore, the third-year = Junior, the fourth-year = Senior). Bachelor's Degree (Bachelor of Arts - B.A., Bachelor of Science - B.Sc.) is given to students after successful completion of four years' study. Some universities and post-graduate colleges award also Master's Degrees usually after other one to three years of study (Master of Arts - M.A., Master of Science - M.Sc.) and Doctoral Degrees after two to five years of study. Every university has its own curriculum. On the average, only about half of the bachelor degree students complete full four-year courses. Undergraduate students must select their "major ", the field in which they want to get their degree, plus a certain number of "electives" or one "minor" subject.

The U.S.A. has both state universities funded by the ind...