TO THE EDUCATION SYSTEM
IN THE UNITED STATES
AMERICAN EDUCATION SYSTEM: AN OVERVIEW
The American education system is unlike that in many other countries. Though the U.S. Federal government contributes almost 10% to the national education budget, education is primarily the responsibility of state and local government.
For example, in Minnesota, almost 80 percent of public education funds come from state sources. About 17 percent comes from local sources, while less than 5 percent comes from the Federal government.
Every State has its own department of education and laws regulating finance, the hiring of school personnel, student attendance, and curriculum.
States also determine the number of years of compulsory education: in most states, education is compulsory from five or six to sixteen; but in some states teens have to stay on in school until age 18.
So, every state has great control over what is taught in its schools and over the requirements that a student must meet, and it is also responsible for the funding of schooling. In most States, the public education system is further divided into local school districts, which are managed by a school board, representing the local community. School districts can be small, covering just a small town or rural county, or enormous, covering a whole large city; according to their local policy, they are responsible for coordinating education policies, planning for changing educational needs in the community, and often even establishing programs and curricula. They will also delegate a varying amount of freedom or independence to each individual school within their sector (with some exceptions, such as general rules concerning health and safety).
Public schools have also relied heavily on local property taxes to meet the vast majority of school expenses. American schools have thus tended to reflect the educational values and financial capabilities of the communities in which they are located. Therefore, there is huge variation among schools regarding courses, subjects, and other activities – it always depends on where the school is located. Still, there are some common points, as e.g. the division of the education system into three levels: elementary/primary education, secondary education, and postsecondary/higher education (college or university). Formal schooling lasts 12 years, until around age 18. Compulsory schooling, though, ends by age 16 in most states; the remaining states require students to attend school until they are 17 or 18. All children in the United States have access to free public schools. Private schools (religious and non-sectarian) are available, but students must pay tuition to attend them.
Many states and communities provide schools or special classes for children with special educational needs, including those with emotional and behavioural problems, moderate and severe learning difficulties, communication problems, partial hearing or physical disabilities. There are also private schools catering for gifted and talented children, and most public schools have gifted and talented programs.
In the following description of the U.S. education structure, we will focus on early childhood, primary and secondary education systems.
How Age is counted in the United States
In the United States, a person's age is counted starting from physical birth (rather than, as in some cultures for example, from conception).
Newborns start at zero, and each passing of a 12 months period from the original date of birth adds one year to the person's age. So, for example, if a child was born on February 9th, 2000, the same child would be: 1 year old on February 9th, 2001; two years old on February 9th, 2002; and so forth.
Education System Structure
Age Newborn to 5 years: Early Childhood Education
DayCareis one form of early childhood education. Day Care refers to early childhood settings that focus their...
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