Elementary and secondary education
The United States of America believes that schooling is essential and thus compulsory for all children. It follows the concept of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). There is a body b y this name which makes curriculum decisions to be followed by all schools.
Elementary education in US begins with kindergarten at the age of 5 or 6 years. It finishes with secondary education at the 12th grade at the age of 18 years. Elementary level teaches the basic subjects along with physical education, music, library and art classes. The individual school districts in accordance with the rules of the NCLB sets it own pattern of curriculum. Thus it varies from one state to the other. Not only does the curriculum vary, even the teaching and learning style differs from state to state according to the particular state’s learning standards and benchmarks. Curriculum standards in private schools do not generally abide by the NCLB and are thus different from that of public schools.
A typical public school in US has students belonging to a wide variety of learning and grasping abilities. It has students with special needs as well as those who are conventionally considered as normal. The textbooks and supplementary materials that re used support the needs of all these children.
The subjects taught in elementary education are basic arithmetic and simple algebra in Mathematics, basic grammar, vocabulary and spelling in English and fundamentals of some other subjects. The teachers in this level are expected to have a Bachelors or Masters Degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. They also undergo training in human cognitive and psychological development so that they handle students better.
Secondary school generally includes middle school- 6th, 7th and 8th grade, junior high school-7th, 8th and 9th grade and senior high school that runs from 9th or 10th grade to 12th standard. In US, grade 9 is referred to as ‘freshmen’, grade 10 as ‘sophomores’, grade 11 as ‘juniors’ and grade 12 ‘seniors’.
High school allows a student to take a variety of classes without giving special emphasis on a particular subject. Part from mandatory subjects, they can even take additional or elective subjects. The mandatory subjects are Science, Mathematics, English, Social Science, Physical Education. In some states students are also expected to take up health courses where they learn about anatomy, first aid, birth control, sexuality and drug awareness. Some schools stress on foreign language and art as compulsory subjects.
The elective subjects include-Computers, Athletics, Career and Technical Education, Performing arts and Foreign language.
Special forms of honors classes like Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses are also provided by some high schools which are more challenging than the standard courses. They are generally taken by the students of 11 and 12.
It is interesting to note that a large part of student population in US is home-schooled. They are nit sent to educational institutions for moral and religious purposes. These conservatives believe that non religious education is contrary to their religious beliefs and systems. The National Education Association, however opposes to this system of tutoring at homes. It believes that this would lead to poor quality of education among children.