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School Education in the USA

doc School Education in the USA

The federal government pays little attention to school education in the USA. There is neither a uniform school system in the USA, nor a uniform curriculum. Each state has its own system of schools. But there are some common features in the organization of school education in the country.
Compulsory education begins at the age of 6 in most states and continues usually until 16. However, some states require attendance from 6 to 18. The academic year usually begins in September and continues through the first or second week of June. The children attend classes five days a week. The school day is approximately 6 hours long, usually from 8.30 am to 3.30 pm. Most children attend mixed schools though there are a few separate schools for older pupils. A lot of children need to travel quite long distances to school, and the school bus is a long-established institution in the USA.
Elementary and secondary schools consist of 12 grades. The usual plan for dividing schools is: 6 years of elementary school, 3 years of junior high school and 3 years of high school, but this plan may be different in different states.
Though there is no national curriculum in the United States, elementary school pupils usually follow a single curriculum, the chief aim of which is general education. The emphasis is placed on the basic skills — speaking, reading, writing and arithmetic. Other subjects in the elementary school include Art, Music, Physical Education, Computer and Foreign Language courses and such new subjects as drug and sex education.
Elementary and high schools have separate buildings. Elementary schools tend to be small. High schools arc generally larger and accommodate pupils from four or five elementary schools. Children move on to high school in the seventh grade, where they continue until the twelfth grade.
The secondary school curriculum is built around specific subjects rather than general skills. Most secondary schools have the same number of required "basic" subjects: English, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and Physical Education.
Secondary school students have also elective subjects, which are not necessary for everybody. A student chooses the clectives which will be necessary for him for his future work or further education at university or college. The elective courses differ from school to school.
There are no national exams, although some schools and states have their own exams. In order to receive the high-school diploma, students must get a minimum number of credits, which are given for the successful completion of each one- or half-year course. Some colleges and universities require the students to take the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test). The SAT can be taken two or three times, so that the student can improve the results.
Extracurricular activity (such as playing for one of the school's sports teams) is also very important in the American school system and is taken into consideration by colleges and universities.
Besides public schools there are private schools, which are very expensive, and religious schools, which are also fee-paying and generally include religious instruction.
About half of the young people today who finish secondary school go on to community colleges, which provide two years of higher education at minimal cost. A growing number of young people go to colleges and universities that provide four years of higher education necessary to receive a bachelor's degree, as well as additional education for a master's degree.

doc Vocabulary

to pay attention — уделять внимание
uniform — единым
curriculum — учебный план, стандарт
common — общим
feature — черта
compulsory — обязательным
to require — требовать
to attend — посещать
attendance — посещение
approximately — приблизительно
mixed school — школа совмест­ного обучения
separate — раздельный, отдельный
long-established — давно суще­ствующий
institution — обычай, порядок
grade — класс
elementary — начальный
secondary — средний
to divide — делить
chief— главный
emphasis — внимание, значение
skills — навыки
to include — включать
to accommodate — вмешать, размешать
required — обязательный
elective subjects — предметы по выбору, факультативные предметы
receive — получать
credit — балл или зачет за прослушанный курс
completion — окончание, завершение
Scholastic Aptitude Test — тест на проверку способностей ученика: экзамен из двух частей, предлагаемый поступающим в университет
to improve — улучшать
extracurricular activity — вне­классные занятия
to take into consideration — учиты­вать, принимать во внимание
public school — государственная школа
private school — частная школа
fee-paying — платный
instruction — обучение
community college — колледж, в котором учатся студенты, живущие дома, и где учеба дешевле, так как часть расходов берут на себя местные органы власти
to provide — предоставлять, обеспечивать
bachelor's degree — степень бакалавра
additional — дополнительный
master's degree — степень магистра

quest Questions

1. What is a special feature of American education?
2. What are common features in the organization of school education in the USA?
3. Are all subjects compulsory in American schools?
4. Do American students have national exams?
5. What can Americans do after finishing secondary school?
6. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the American school system?
7. Can you compare Russian and American systems of education?
8. Would you like to study in the USA? Why?