Education in the USA


                   General Pattern of Education in the USA
    The general pattern of education in the USA is an eight-year elementary
school, followed by a four-year high school. This has been called  8—4  plan
organization. It is proceeded, in many localities, by  nursery  schools  and
kindergartens. It is  followed  by  a  four-year  college  and  professional
schools.  This  traditional  pattern,  however,  has  been  varied  in  many
different ways. The 6—3— 3 plan consists of a six-year elementary school,  a
three-year junior high school, and a three-year senior high school.  Another
variation is a 6—6 plan organization,  with  a  six-year  elementary  school
followed        by        a        six-year        secondary         school.

    American education provides a program for children,  beginning  at  the
age of 6 and continuing up to the age of 16 in some of the  states,  and  to
18 in others.
    The elementary school in the United States is generally  considered  to
include  the  first  six  or  eight  grades  of  the  common-school  system,
depending upon the organization that has been  accepted  for  the  secondary
school. It has been called the  "grade  school"  or  the  "grammar  school".

           There is no single  governmental  agency  to  prescribe  for  the
American school system, different types of organization  and  of  curriculum
are tried out.
    The length of the school year varies among the states.  Wide  variation
exists also in the length of the school day. A common practice  is  to  have
school in session from 9:00 to 12:00 in the morning and from  1:00  to  3:30
in the afternoon, Monday through  Friday.  The  school  day  for  the  lower
grades is often from 30 minutes to an hour  shorter.  Most  schools  require
some homework to be done by  elementary  pupils.  Elementary  Schools,  High
Schools and Institutions of Higher Learning

 Elementary Schools, High Schools and Institutions of Higher Learning

    There are eight years of elementary schooling. The elementary school is
followed by four years of secondary school, or high school. Often  the  last
two years of  elementary  and  the  first  years  of  secondary  school  are
combined into a junior high school.
    The school year is nine months in length, beginning early in  September
and sometimes a shorter one in spring.  There  are  slight  variations  from
place to place. Students enter the  first  grade  at  the  age  of  six  and
attendance is compulsory in most states until the age of  sixteen  or  until
the student has finished the eighth grade.
    The elementary schools tend to be small. The high schools are generally
larger and accommodate pupils from four or five elementary schools. A  small
town generally has several elementary schools and one high school.  In  some
rural communities the one-room country school house still exists.  Here  may
be found from five to twenty-five pupils in grades one  through  eight,  all
taught by the same teacher.
    Admission to the American high school is automatic on completion of the
elementary school. During the four-year  high  school  program  the  student
studies four or five major subjects per year, and classes in each  of  these
subjects meet for an hour a day, five days a week. In addition, the  student
usually has classes in physical education, music, and art  several  times  a
week. If he fails a course, he repeats only that course and not the work  of
the entire year. Students must complete  a  certain  number  of  courses  in
order to receive a diploma, or a certificate of graduation.
    Institutions of higher learning  supported  by  public  funds  are  not
absolutely free. The state  colleges  and  universities  charge  a  fee  for
tuition or registration. This fee is higher for those who come from  outside
the state. Working one's way through college is commonplace.
    Usually  there  is  no  admission  examination  required  by  a   state
university for those  who  have  finished  high  school  within  the  state.
Sometimes a certain pattern of high school studies  is  necessary,  however,
and some  state  universities  require  a  certain  scholastic  average,  or
average of high school grades.
    Private colleges and universities, especially  the  larger,  well-known
ones  such  as  Harvard,  Princeton,  and  Yale,   have   rigid   scholastic
requirements for entrance, including an examination.
    It usually takes four years to meet the requirements for a Bachelor  of
Arts or Bachelor of Science degree.A Master of Arts  or  Master  of  Science
degree may be obtained in one or two additional years.The  highest  academic
degree is the Doctor of Philosophy.It  may  take  any  number  of  years  to
complete the original research work necessary to obtain this degree.

                           Higher Education Institutions

    It has become common for the college program to be divided  into  broad
fields,such as languages and  literature,the  social  sciences,the  sciences
and mathematics, and the fine arts.Many colleges require  all  freshmen  and
sophomores  to  take  one  or  two  full-year  courses  in  each  of   three
fields.Certain Courses,such  as  English  or  history,may  be  required  for
all,with some election permitted in the other fields.
    Higher educational institutions usually are  governed  by  a  board  of
regents or a board of trustees.
    The executive head of a college or a university is usually  called  the
president. The various colleges or schools which take up  a  university  are
headed by deans. Within  a  school  or  college  there  may  be  departments
according to subject matter fields,  each  of  which  may  be  headed  by  a
professor who is designated as department head or  chairman.  Other  members
of  the  faculty  hold  academic  ranks,  such  as   instructor,   assistant
professor, associate professor, and professor. Graduate  students  who  give
some part-time service may be designated as graduate assistants or fellows.
Professional education  in  fields  such  as  agriculture,  dentistry,  law,
engineering, medicine, pharmacy, teaching, etc. is pursued  in  professional
schools which may be part of a university or may  be  separate  institutions
which confine their instruction to a single profession.  Often  two,  three,
or four years  of  pre-professional  liberal  arts  education  are  required
before  admission  to  a  professional  school.  Three  to  five  years   of
specialized  training  lead  to  professional  degrees  such  as  Doctor  of
Medicine, Bachelor of Law, etc.

                 Private and State Colleges and Universities

    Harvard College was established in 1636, with the principal purpose  of
providing a literate  ministry1  for  colonial  churches.  It  was  a  small
institution, enrolling only 20 students in 1642 and  60  in  1660.  It  soon
became more than a theological training school2 and established itself as  a
liberal arts college. The next institution of  higher  learning  established
in the American colonies was the College of William and Mary,  which  opened
in 1693 at Williamsburg, Virginia. Other colleges were founded in  the  next
century, but all of them remained small schools for long  periods.  Students
entered at the  age  of  14  and  remained  until  they  were  18,  and  the
curriculum, while rigidly academic  and  classic  was  by  modern  standards
rather secondary in nature.
    Private colleges and universities were established in  various  states.
The first state university was the University of Virginia, founded in  1819.
Some  state  universities  have  large  endowment  funds1  which  provide  a
substantial portion of their support. Other sources of  income  are  student
fees, gifts and endowments.
    In general, higher education in the USA may be divided into  two  broad
fields: liberal arts and professional. Each of these fields may  be  further
subdivided  into  undergraduate  and  graduate  levels.  The  liberal   arts
program, on the undergraduate  level,  may  be  a  two-year  junior  college
course, or a four-year course leading to a degree of  Bachelor  of  Arts  or
Bachelor of Science. The four-year  course  is  usually  subdivided  into  a
lower division (which may be called the junior college), consisting  of  the
two first years, and the upper division, which is the last  two  years.  The
first two years continue the general education and specialization begins  in
the third year.

                       Teaching Profession in the USA

    Requirements for teachers' certificate vary among  50  states.  Usually
the state department of education, or a state  certification  board,  issues
certificates which permit teachers to be employed within the  state.  Forty-
four of the 50 states  require  at  least  the  completion  of  a  four-year
course, with the bachelor's degree, as a minimum for high  school  teaching:
the tendency to require  a  fifth  year  beyond  the  bachelor's  degree  is
increasing. Graduation from a two-year normal school or at least  two  years
of college education is the minimum requirement for elementary  teaching  in
36 states; others demand the  completion  of  a  four-year  course  and  the
bachelor's degree.
    Because of the decentralization of school control in the  USA  teachers
are employed by local districts rather than by the national government.  The
American teacher does not have the absolute security  of  tenure  which  the
French or Australian teacher enjoys. A higher  proportion  of  the  teaching
force are women than in some other countries.
    The  teacher-training  institutions  have  not  been  able  to  provide
sufficient numbers of fully trained teachers to replace those  retiring  and
dropping  out  of  the  profession  and  at  the  same  time  to  meet   the
requirements for new classes each year. The problem of recruiting and  suply
of teachers remains a serious one. In general the  problem  of  shortage  of
teachers has not been met by lowering certification standards.

	

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