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System of education in the USA




1. System of School Education.

2. System of Higher Education.


1. Every autumn more than 44 million young Americans walk through the doorways of about 106 thousand elementary and secondary schools for the start of a new school year. The young people fill classrooms after leaving the kindergartens and continue to study up to the 12th grade. The children attend classes usually for 5 hours a day, and five days a week until the beginning of the following summer. They have vacation for Christmas or Easter.

In the USA there are 2 types of schools- public schools which are supported by the state and where schooling is free –of-charge, and private schools, where the families have to pay special attendance fees. These schools are usually controlled by different churches or religious groups. In such schools religious teachings are a part of the curriculum, which also includes the traditional academic subjects which are taught in public schools.

Each of 50 states in the USA has its own laws regulating education. From sate to state some laws are the same, in others they are not. For example, all states require young people to attend schools, but the age limits are different. They may be from 7 to 16 or 6 to 18, etc. About 85% of Americans schoolchildren attend public schools, and 15% private schools. Public schools are controlled by boards of education of the state or the district where the schools is situated. These boards are responsible for the curriculum, the selection of the teachers and other aspects of school life. American children attend the elementary school and then the secondary school. The elementary school may include 8 grades in some places, and 6 grades in others. Sometimes grades 4, 5 and 6 make up what is called a “middle grade” school. Many Americans call the elementary school a “grammar school”. Secondary education may begin with grade 9 or with grade 7. It depends on the way elementary education is organized in this or that state or district. Usually “secondary school” means grades 9-12. These grades are called “high school”. In many districts secondary education begins with grade 7. In these cases grades 7-9 are called “junior (младший) high school”. And when grades 7-9 are included with the 10th, 11th and 12th grades, all six are said to form a “senior (старший) high school”.

Though there is no national curriculum in the USA certain subjects are taught in all the 12 grades across the country.

Almost every elementary school provides instruction in the subjects: mathematics, languages (a subject that includes reading, grammar, composition and literature), writing, science, history, geography, economics, music, art and physical education. Most secondary schools have the same number of required “basic” subjects: English, mathematics, science, social studies and physical education. Most young Americans graduate from school with a high school diploma upon satisfactory completion of a special number of courses.


2. Out of more than 3 million students who graduate from high school each year, about 1 million go on for “higher education”. It is not easy to enter a college at a leading university in the USA. Such a college may accept only 1 out of every ten who apply. At present there are over 3300 different institutions of higher education in the USA with more than 12 million students. Successful applicants at colleges of higher education are usually chosen on the basis of a) their high school records which include their class rank, the list of all the courses taken and all the grades received in high school, test results; b) recommendations from their high school teachers; c) the impression they make during interviews at the university, which is in fact a serious examination, and d) their scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SATs). The SAT is a test in mathematics and English language which was introduced in 1947. The SAT is taken in the 11th grade of high school. If a student gets 1600 scores it is considered as a good result, if he or she gets 400 scores such a result is considered to be poor.

The system of higher education includes 4 categories of institution:

1) the 2-year, or community college, which is financed by the local authorities and which is intended to satisfy the needs of the local community in different professions. On graduation from such colleges American students can start to work or may transfer to 4-year colleges or universities.

2) the technical training institution, at which high school graduates may take courses ranging from 6 months to 3-4 years, and learn different technical skills, which may include design, business, computer programming, accounting, etc.

3) the 4-year college, which is not part of university. The graduates receive the degree of Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS).

4) the university, which may contain: a) several colleges for students who want to receive a bachelor’s degree after 4 years of study; and b) one or more graduate (аспирантура) schools for those who want to continue their studies after college for about 2 years to receive Master (магистр) of Arts (MA) or a Science (MS) or a doctor degree. There are 156 universities in the USA. Any of these institutions of higher education may be either public or private. The public institutions are financed by the state. Of the 4-year institutions 28% are public, and 72% are private.

The academic year is usually nine months, or 2 semesters of 4 and half months each. Studies usually begin in September and in July. The students who study for 4 years are called as follows: a) freshman; b) sophomore; c)junior; d)senior.

During 1 term or semester a student will study 4 or 5 different subjects. The Students` progress is controlled through oral or written tests, term or course papers, and a final examination in each course.

Each college or university has its own curriculum that every student has to take in order to receive a degree.


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