School and Education in United States


The educational system in the United States cannot be described as one system. It is a highly decentralized system that shows great variations. The federal government in Washington does not have the authority to control the state’s educational policy, although there are federal rules that ensure the provision of education for ethnic minority groups and people with disabilities. But the federal government has become increasingly active in education policy since the 1990s, and educational research is being prioritized with support. The country is divided into 14,891 school districts (1998/99), which can be very different. Some states have many school districts, while e.g. Hawaii only has one school district. Each state has different forms of governance of its school districts. In addition, each school district has a school board.

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The local school board has great authority. Within the framework of the state’s laws and regulations, it draws up a budget, sets the local school tax (usually property tax), hires the school staff and makes decisions in all important administrative and professional matters. The Washington Congress has no direct authority over the state’s educational policy, but it exerts a great deal of influence through federal grants, amounting to approx. 8% of the total school expenses. Each state covers approx. 45%, the school district approx. 47%. Federally, a separate Department of Education (US Department of Education) was established in 1979. In 2000, the United States used 4.9% of gross domestic product for education. See TOPSCHOOLSINTHEUSA for TOEFL, ACT, SAT testing locations and high school codes in United States.

The scope of compulsory school provision varies. For example, Wisconsin has compulsory school for 12 years (6-18 years) while in Arizona it is 8 years (8-16 years). But in general it can be said that compulsory education lasts from the children are 7 years to the age of 16.

Primary and secondary education

The formal school structure varies. The primary school has a duration of 4-6 years. Then there are three different patterns: either 4-year middle school + 4-year high school, or 3-year junior high school + 3-year senior high school, or 6-year combined high school. Most systems have three different curricula at the high school level, one theoretical, intended to prepare for further academic studies, one that is more vocational, and a third that is more generally oriented.

The universities

The universities usually have 4-year college studies leading to the bachelor’s degree, and several departments for higher education leading to the master’s and doctoral degrees. An American college covers both traditional academic education and a comprehensive vocational education. This also applies to the 2-year-old colleagues, who are run and financed by the local school authorities.

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Private schools

Private schools play a significant role in education, greatest at the college level. A number of the most reputed universities and colleges are private. About. 11% of students attend private primary and secondary schools (most with religious affiliation), over 25% of students at private colleges/universities.

Public education in primary and secondary school is free. Colleges and universities pay for tuition and accommodation, but the rates vary from place to place. The private universities are the most expensive. There are many scholarships of various kinds. The federal government also provides scholarships and student loans.

The length of education varies for the different population groups. 79% of 17-year-olds take high school. More and more people are taking higher education. In 2000, the United States had 15.3 million students. An increasing proportion of the student population is older students. Of the adult population, 85% have completed high school, and 27% have higher education at the undergraduate level or above.

Since the beginning of the 1980s, the concern that the quality of American schools is too poor and that it will affect the country’s competitiveness has increased. Several studies and reports have concluded that there is cause for concern. The best known of these reports, A Nation at Risk from 1983, described the situation in the United States as critical.

In 1990, the president and governors of all states set six national goals for the country’s education policy up to the year 2000, including: that 90% should complete high school, that the United States students should be the world’s best in science and math, and that all schools in the United States should be free of drugs and violence in the year 2000. In 1992, the National Council on Education Standards and Testing was established. In 1994, the Clinton administration introduced the National Education Reform Educate America Act, which adopted eight common education goals and introduced requirements for national assessment of student learning. In 2001, the No Child Left Behind Act was introduced by the Bush administration. After that, each state is responsible for assessing the student’s skills in languages, mathematics and science. The law has four key elements: visibility of the results of schools,


The interest in school and education goes back to the first immigrants. As early as the 1600s, laws were passed in the New England colonies which stipulated that education of the people was a matter for the public. Even before the revolution, a number of the colonies had thus built their own college. During the first hundred years of the republic, a large number of private and state colleges appeared, especially in the south and west. Important expansions and reforms of elementary school were introduced in New England, the Midwest and the Northwest. During and after the revolution, the church was separated from the state, but schooling was a public matter at all times. Thomas Jefferson’s goal was that all citizens should be able to read and write, and higher education should be given to all those who had prerequisites for public positions.

In the period after 1830, the principle was implemented with a public common school for all children financed through ordinary taxes. The development went through three phases. From about 1830 in the first phase, primary school was improved, and old private or semi-private academies were replaced with new public high schools designed for all youth. Women began to play a greater role in the education system as both female and female colleagues were created, and women entered the teaching profession, especially in primary school. Technical schools were established and adult education was given to their institutions during this period.

In the second phase, from the Civil War to the end of the 19th century, elementary and secondary schools were given greater scope and importance, without really changing their character. In addition to public schools, Catholic private schools emerged during this period as a result of immigration, which in particular increased the Catholic element of the population. In the southern states, a school system was organized which was organized according to the pattern in the north, but with the maintenance of racial segregation. A number of private institutions were created for black youth. At the same time, a significant transformation of higher education took place. Previously, there had been schools for the education of lawyers and medical practitioners. Now, certain institutions began to develop and expand into centers, not only for teaching and education, but also for research. The old Harvard school, founded in 1636, and a new one,

In the third phase of the school system’s development, the 20th century, the most important change is that the objectives from previous periods have been met to some extent. Although the schools vary in quality, they exist for everyone, from kindergarten to college level in all regions. Public schools are an important factor in social assimilation, and there has been a great fight for the racial divide in schools. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in public schools was contrary to the Constitution.