How is the American school system organized?

ScottsEnglishScottsEnglish Administrator Posts: 1,276 admin ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭

Students are often asking about the American school system.

The American school system is divided into many distinct parts.

First, each state runs its own school systems, and each school district collects taxes from the people living in the school district in order to fund the schools. This is different from many countries which have a centralized national education system.

Many children begin by going to a kindergarten, which can be half a day or a full day. School begins with first grade, usually at five years old. Elementary school (or primary school) runs from grades 1 to 5 or 1 to 6. If the school has a middle school, it is grades 6 to 8; otherwise, there may be a junior high school, grades 7 to 9. 

Next is high school, either grades 9 to 12 or 10 to 12. American high schools start early (sometimes 7:20 or 7:30 in the morning) but finish early (around 3) in order to allow students to participate in activities such as music and sports. Compared to many other countries, the American student has a lot of choice in what he or she wants to study. There are often manual activities such as wood and metal shop, sciences with laboratories for chemistry and physics, art studios, theaters, music, cooking, sewing, and of course seasonal sports activities- the most popular being football and basketball.

It is common for a student to be at the high school until 5 pm or 6 pm because of after-school activities. High schools also organize dances during the school year, the most famous being the Prom at the end of the year. There are also clubs after school, such as the chess club or the school newspaper or yearbook.

There is no end-of-the-year exam for students. Those who want to go on to university are encouraged to take standardized exams such as the ACT or the SAT. Students can also choose vocational school, sometimes as part of their high school training (half a day in vocational school, half a day at the high school doing general courses).

Graduation is an important day at the end of the final year (grade 12, or senior year). Because high school is such an important part of a teenager's life, there are reunions organized at 5-year intervals to which all of the members of a class are invited. 

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