American School-System

                                The American School-System

Education has always been an important matter in the USA

  • So there were already many foundations in the colonial era(i.e.Harvard College, which was established in 1636)
  • In the early 1800s most schools were expensive private schools,but just 60 years later
  • In 1860 the first free public elementary schools were founded

The original aims of these public schools were not only

  • To provide a basic education, but also
  • To cause equality of opportunity
  • And to support the idea of individual success, according to the words "working your way to the top",without looking after the social background

The basic structure of the school system is that the

  • Education is a task of each state and school district( have great freedom, for example in selecting their own textbooks , devise their own curriculums, set their own graduation requirements)
  • So a system of "accrediation" is necessary, each school has to achieve a fair standard of good education, which is judged by a regional accrediting association. An inspector checks the required standards, he can grant accreditation or refuse it.A school with a poor standard has the chance to improve during a short time.

The system is commonly organised according to the

  • 6-3-3 plan: six years of elementary school

                         three years at each secondary school: 3 years of junior high school from

                                                                                    grade 7 to 9

                                                                                    3 years of senior high school from

                                                                                    grade 10 to 12

  • sometimes the older 8-4 plan is still in operation ( means 8 years of  elementary school and 4 years of secondary school)
  • there are two other rare plans: 6-6 plan and 4-4-4 plan, they arent operated very often

Pupils start their school career in the Elementary school,which

  • goes usually from the 1st- 6th grade (from six years to eleven years)
  • is corresponding to our "Grundschule" and the british "primary school"
  • main thing is the learning of basic skills

with the age of 12  pupils go to secondary school / high school (corresponding to the german "Gesamtschule")

  • goes from 7th -12th (12-17 years)
  • most pupils follow a "core curriculum"( includes English, science, maths, social studies and physical education)
  • the student can also choose between different elective courses( marching band, fitness for live , video production.)
  • pupils also take positiv extracurricular activities: there is a very particular importance of competitive sports(teaching the students the "winning spirit")
  • in some schools its not suprising that athletics are more important than the academic programm

the elective system should

  • help children to find and develop their strengths and talents( schools want to prepare young people for the world and want to provide the education)
  • there is a so called Guidance counselor in each school.He supports students in planning their school career and helps to find a suitable employment

Grades and Exames: 3 of 4 pupils finish school with diploma

  • high school diploma consists of results from each course based on:

-        the performance in tests all over the year or in end-of-the-year examinations

-        written and oral assignment

-        teachers assessment                     

results graded from A(=excellent) to F(=failing)

The high school diplomas are presented during a festive graduation ceremony,known as the "Commencement-Day".

After graduation over 50per cent go on to higher education

  • and can choose between 3300 colleges and universities in the usa
  • there are public institutions: relatively low tution fees, because they are state supported
  • and private institutions: higher fees but most prestigious ones( i.e. Harvard,Yale,Princeton,Stanford, the costs for tution fees and living expenses are about 10.000$ a year)
  • because of the high costs of a college education many students have secured a place at a universitie in their own state, so they can continue living at home.

For students with limited founds finance help is available: with a good academic record they have the chance to a schoolarship.

Many of them have part-time jobs and work during the summer holidays to finance their education.

The four basic types of higher education

  • Technical Training School (lasts two years,vocational education for occupational fields like accountant or journalism)
  • Community College(dual role: providing two years of semi-professional and technical training, preparing for a four-year degree-granting insitution or

After two years you can get the "association of arts"(A.A.) or the "association of sience"(A.S.) degree)

  • Liberal arts college: offer four year degree programms at undergraduate level, but no courses of postgraduate study
  • Universities: undergraduate and postgraduate courses or offer courses for specialising in academic disciplines or professional training(Law, Medicine, Engineering) leading to a Master`s degree.

College admission

  • Applicants are considered on the basis of

-        their academic record at high school

-        their score in s college admission test(SAT or ACT)

-        it also depends on recommendations from teachers(letters)

-        personal essays and interviews

College life

  • Quaterly system:deviding the academic year in three terms and the 4th quarter as an optional summer term
  • In the first two years you get "lower division"( follow a range of basic courses), this are undergraduate students named Freshman and Sophomore
  • The next two years you are "upper division" (concentrating on certain courses in which you want to specialize),graduate students named Juniors and Seniors
  • Students earn credits(=points): must achieve enough credits and pass an examination, then they are awarded their degrees
  • Campus life: many extracurricular activities( football, basketball, track events.)and student clubs




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