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Read about information on the American education system or the education system in the United States of America.

American Educational System

United States of America has one of the most effective educational systems in the world because it ensures quality to the children of the country. The system is highly sophisticated and constructed with special care given to the educational needs of the student community. The Federal Government has enforced strict laws to make sure that each and every person is benefited with basic knowledge regardless of their financial conditions. After completing the post-secondary education, one can move on to pursue the graduate, doctorate and even post-doctorate studies. The American educational system also nurtures extracurricular activities of students, along with providing them a highly competitive curriculum. The education system of USA functions under the U.S. Department of Education. Let's find out more below!

Education System In United States of America

Entry Level Education
Children in the United States enter public education through pre-schools and kindergarten at the age of 3, although it is not mandatory. The Head Start Pre-School funded by the Federal Government caters to the requirements of kids belonging to low income families.

Education In School
The schooling years begin in August-September, just after the summer season. It is divided into twelve grades which are distributed among three parts - primary school (first five years), middle school (6th to 8th grade), junior high school (7th to 9th grade) and high school (9th to 12th grade). All basic subjects are taught in elementary school. Except for special areas such as physical education, library, music and art, teaching takes place in classrooms. The curriculum is determined by individual districts. According to the 'No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Program', the committees of all schools should meet the Adequate Yearly Process (AYP) to settle on common learning standards.

Mandatory subjects in school include:
  • Science (biology, chemistry and physics)
  • Mathematics (algebra, geometry, pre-calculus, statistics and calculus)
  • English (literature, humanities, composition, oral languages etc.)
  • Social sciences (history, government/economics)
  • Physical education (at least one year)
Electives subjects include:
  • Computers (word processing, programming, graphic design)
  • Athletics
  • Career and Technical Education (Agriculture/Agriscience, Business/Marketing, Family and Consumer Science, Health occupations, and Technology Education)
  • Performing Arts/Visual Arts, (choir, band, orchestra, drama, art, ceramics, photography, and dance)
  • Foreign languages (Spanish, French, Chinese, Latin, Greek, German, Italian, Arabic and Japanese)
  • Junior Reserve officers' Training Corps
Advanced Courses
Many high schools provide Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses as well. These include a more challenging curriculum and are considered equivalent to the first year of college. These courses can be taken in the 9th, 11th or 12th grades of high school. The AP or IB results are taken into consideration for post-secondary admissions. Home schooling is also common in the United States. People opt for this concept owing to religious and moral reasons.

Grading Scale
  • Children are continuously assessed and the results are announced in the form of grades. They are then entered into a report card, which is allotted to each student for constant evaluation of performances.
  • Each grade represents a range of mark or percentage. Usually an A+ is given for the best performance. Standardized tests such as the Regents Examinations (New York), the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT), the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) etc., are taken by the American states to ensure that children have achieved at least a minimum level of education. This is taken up during the 11th grade. In case, the child fails to make progress then according to the 'No Child Left Behind' Act, that individual must be given additional support through summer schools.
  • The US educational system gives importance to extra-curricular activities in the form of organizing sports, drills and bands and different competitions.
  • The country has also considered the educational needs of children with disabilities, by providing them with free and appropriate public education under the Federal Law Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
University Education
  • After completing post-secondary education, students can further proceed to university education. on completing the undergraduate study, they will be conferred with a Bachelor's Degree. Graduate students can then proceed for post graduate studies to obtain a Master's degree. Doctorate and post-doctorate program follow, if they wish to pursue an in-depth knowledge in their subject area.
  • Admission to university depends on various factors like high school course of study, high school Grade Point Average (GPA), participation in extracurricular activities, SAT or ACT exam scores, college admission essays and personal interview (optional).
  • Students can enroll in professional degrees of law, medicine, pharmacy, dentistry etc. either after their post-secondary education or after completing their graduation (depending on the program). Enrollment into graduate courses again depends upon standardized entrance tests such as Graduate Record Examination (GRE), Medical College Admission test (MCAT), Law School admission Test (LSAT) etc.
Cost And Funding
The fees vary according to nature of the course selected. The funding for the K-12 schools varies but in general, 8.5% of the Public School System Funds are catered by the Federal Government while the rest is split between the State and Local Government. 48.7% of the remaining funds are supplied by the State Government and 42.8% from local sources.

United States of America has one of the best and most effective educational systems in the world. Hope this article has provided you with a detailed picture of the US educational system.