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Education in the United States Robert S. Williams The American University in Cairo Talk Structure Educational Profile of US citizens Education in the US is compulsory and local K – 12 Colleges and Universities Trade and special schools

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education in the united states

Education in the United States

Robert S. Williams

The American University in Cairo

talk structure
Talk Structure
  • Educational Profile of US citizens
  • Education in the US is compulsory and local
  • K – 12
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Trade and special schools
  • Who Pays for Education
  • Public vs. Private
  • Education for special groups (minority language students, underprivileged people, people with disabilities, gifted students)
educational profile of us citizens
Educational Profile of US citizens
  • There are 56.1 million children (pre K – 12) in schools in 2006
    • 48.5 million (88%) are in public schools
    • 6.5 million (12%) in private schools
    • 1.1 million (2%) are homeschooled
  • 68% of all 2005 HS graduates were enrolled in college in Fall 2005
    • 70% of women
    • 65% of men
  • 91% went full time.
    • 44.3% worked while studying
  • Asian-Americans more likely to enroll in college than whites, blacks, or Hispanics.
education in the us is compulsory
Education in the USis Compulsory

Schooling is compulsory for all children in the United States, but the age range for which school attendance is required varies from state to state

Most states require children to begin school at 5 or 6, either in kindergarten or first grade

Most states now require children to remain in school until they are 18, though some states require school attendance until 16.

education in the us is local
Education in the USis Local

Schools in the US are run by community school boards and financed by local taxes.

School board members are elected by the community.

However, the state and federal governments also give money to local schools.

In order to receive this money, local schools must meet certain state and federal educational standards.

A new law, No Child Left Behind, requires that children be tested by standardized federal tests and that individual schools show improvement in student achievement.

K - 12
  • Elementary school, grade school, grammar school, and public school are all interchangeable names for schools that begin with kindergarten or first grade and end either with fifth or sixth grade.
  • Students do not choose a course structure and remain in a single classroom throughout the school day, with the exceptions of physical education , music, and art classes.
  • Education is relatively not standardized. Students learns basic arithmetic, English proficiency, and fundamentals of other subjects.
middle school
Middle School
  • Middle school, junior high school, and intermediate school are all interchangeable names for schools that begin in 6th or 7th grade and end in 8th or 9th grade. Students in middle school are in the age range from 12 – 15.
  • Middle school students take classes from several teachers each day, moving from classroom to classroom.
  • The classes are usually a strict set of science, math, English, and social science courses, interspersed with a reading and/or technology class.
high school
High School
  • High school runs from grades 9 through 12.
  • In high school, students obtain much more control of their education and often may even choose their core classes
  • There is no ‘school leaving exam’ for US high schools, but students wishing to attend universities must take a standardized entrance test (SAT or ACT).
  • High school students do not usually specialize in a particular subject.
high school curriculum
High School Curriculum
  • Science (biology, chemistry, and physics)
  • Mathematics (usually three years minimum, including algebra, geometry, algebra II, and/or precalculus/trigonometry)
  • English (four years)
  • Social Science (various history, government, and economics courses, always including American history)
  • Physical education (at least one year)
  • Many states require a "Health" course in which students learn anatomy, nutrition, and first aid; the basic concepts of sexuality and birth control; and why to avoid substances like illegal drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol.
high school curriculum electives
High School CurriculumElectives
  • Visual arts (drawing, sculpture, painting, photography, film)
  • Performing Arts (drama, band, orchestra, dance)
  • Shop (woodworking, metalworking, automobile repair, robotics)
  • Computers (word processing, programming, graphic design)
  • Athletics (football, baseball, basketball, track and field, swimming, gymnastics, water polo, soccer)
  • Publishing (journalism, yearbook, literary magazine)
  • Foreign languages (French, German, and Spanish are common; Arabic, Chinese, Latin, Greek and Japanese are less common)
colleges and universities
Colleges and Universities

The terms university and college are often used to refer to post-secondary education institutions.

The US has both private and public universities and colleges.

The most prestigious of these, such as Harvard and Stanford, are private.

There are two basic types of post-secondary schools: Four-year and two-year.

Two-year schools are called community colleges, which offer Associate of Arts or Science degrees.

People who complete community college often enroll in four-year universities, where they need only take the last two years to earn a degree

trade and special schools
Trade and Special Schools

Police and fire academies are local or state institutions

Trade schools teach:

  • hair styling
  • aircraft mechanics
  • Computer skills
  • Medical technical skills
home schooling
Home Schooling

Most states allow parents to educate their children at home.

This is known as home schooling.

People choose this educational option for a variety of reasons, the most common of which are:

  • concerns about the school environment (e.g., safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure)
  • a desire to provide religious or moral instruction
  • and dissatisfaction with academic instruction

Homeschooled children mostly come from white, two-parent families.

education for special groups
Education for Special Groups
  • minority language students
  • underprivileged people
  • people with disabilities
  • gifted students

US Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2006). College Enrollment and Work Activity of 2005 High School Graduates,. Accessed on May 2, 2006 from

US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2005). The Condition of Education 2005 (NCES 2005-094)

US Department of Education. (ND). Fast Facts. Accessed on May 2, 2006 from

Wikipedia, (ND). Education in the United States. Accessed on May 2, 2006 from