Education in the United States - Development of School-System

Education in the United States

Has been an important Factor in the economic development of the United States and in the achievement of a high standard of living for most Americans .

Schools, libraries and museums provide learning opportunities for people of all ages .

Development of School-System

During the early history of the United States most schools were privately owned.

Church groups owned and operates many of them .

In the early 1800's the idea of free public schools began to gain widespread support in the country . State and local governments took the responsibility for establishing public school systems .

By 1918, every state had laws requiring children to attend school until they reached a certain age or completed a certain grade .

Structure of the Educational System

About 90% of American schools, elementary and high schools and about half of its institutions of higher learning, are free and public. Most of them are co-educational.

The rest are fee-charging private schools, mostly Roman Catholic parochial schools. Private schools are mostly single-sex schools.

American education comprises three levels:

·        elementary education, there are about 79000 Schools in the USA

·        secondary education, there are about 29000 High Schools

·        higher education, there are about 3000 colleges, universities, and community or junior colleges in the country .

Schooling is compulsory from the ages of 5 to 16.

There are several structural patterns in use, depending on the location:

-     6-3-3 plan: Elementary School: grades 1-6; Junior High School: grades 7-9;

Senior High School: grades 10-12;

-     8-4 plan:    Elementary School: grades 1-8; High School; grades 9-12;

-     6-6 plan:    Elementary School: grades 1-6; High School; 7-12;

All plans lead to high school graduation at about 17 to 18 years of age.

Many American children begin their schooling before enrolling in first grade .

More than 80 per cent of all 5-year-olds attend Kindergarten .

The word Kindergarten is the same as in German .

ELEMENTARY EDUCATION is intended for children from the ages of 6 to 12 or 14. They are usually public and co-educational.

About 98 per cent of all U.S. children complete elementary school .

SECONDARY EDUCATION comprises either 4 years or 6 years.

The six-year High School is divided up into a Junior and a Senior High School.

The American High School offers educational facilities for all children aged 12/14-17

It shows best the equality tendency of American education by making children of all social classes attend the same type of school as long as possible. It is a Comprehensive School which mirrors the American ideals of equal opportunities and equality of social status and serves.

The basic problem of US High School education is whether it should provide vocational or general education.

Therefore all larger High Schools offer a number of different programmes:

-     The academic curriculum prepares children for college; the basics for High School graduation requirements are English, mathematics, science, social studies, computer science and a foreign language if students go on college.

-     Commercial classes include typing, shorthand and bookkeeping.

-     Vocational programmes offer courses in auto mechanics, printing, agriculture, homemaking, cosmetology, marketing and sales skills

About 75 per cent of the graduates of elementary school graduate from high school and 60 per cent of them enter Higher education by enrolling in universities or colleges.


The post-secondary education system in America is complex, as many different types of programmes are offered by the more than 3000 colleges and universities.

It consists of four basic types of institutions:

1. the two-year Junior or Community College;

2. the two-year Technical College;

3. the four-year undergraduate institution

4. the university, which normally comprises a college for undergraduate students

seeking a Bachelor's Degree and one or more graduate schools or

professional schools for those seeking Master's of doctoral degrees.

A school in any of these categories might be public or private according to its source of funding. Although higher education can be expensive in America - most annual tuitions is in the range of $ 3000-9000 - a student can seek funds through scholarships, financial aid or guaranteed government student loans.

About 15 per cent of the country's people complete the last four years of their education .


Education has been considered a state and local responsibility, rather than a federal matter. Local communities are given broad authority to run schools.

State governments have their own departments of education which determine school policy and enact educational laws.

The US Department of Educational has little authority and no direct control over education.

Public schools in the United States are supported mainly by taxation .

Private schools get their operating funds mainly from tuition and contribution of private citizens .

The national schools, like its private businesses, have always had to deal with financial problems .


There is no national public examination system. In public elementary and secondary schooling, local districts determine and maintain standards.

T  Current Issues of American Education

American education is be set by many problems. The most important concerns are

-     Equal opportunities for all

-     Racial issues

-     Bilingual education

-     Student achievement and curricula reforms

-     School prayer

-     Inner-city school problems

Other problems are :

Run-down school buildings .

Shortage of teachers .