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Education System in the United States of America


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Title: Education System in the United States of America

Education System in the United States of America
An Overview
Martha R. Green, M.Ed. Program Coordinator
Office of International Outreach The Confucius
Institute at Texas AM University
The United States has a Decentralized System of
The United States has a decentralized system of
education there is no national school system. In
accordance with the U.S. Constitution, the
ultimate authority to create and administer
education policy rests with the 50 states, and
most states have delegated authority to operate
schools to local governments. There are no
national laws addressing a prescribed curriculum,
the establishment and recognition of
institutions, the recognition of degrees or
professions, the governance of institutions, or
the legal status of students or faculty. The
federal government plays a limited but important
role in ensuring equity, supporting state and
local educational improvement efforts, providing
financial support for postsecondary education,
gathering statistics and conducting research, and
helping to make education a national priority.
Federal Government The United States Department
of Education Secretary of Education Arne
Duncan (Cabinet-level position) National
Education Budget (2007) 972 billion (public and
private funds, all levels) Function Responsible
for federal education policy
  • Official Mission To ensure equal access to
    education and promote educational excellence
    throughout the nation.
  • Collecting and disseminating information
    educational statistics, research data, best
  • Playing a leadership role by influencing public
    opinion and building partnerships with states,
    communities, educators, parents, and the private
    sector to improve education
  • Ensuring equal educational opportunity by
    enforcing civil rights laws. The Department can
    withhold federal funding from any organization
    that is found in violation of civil rights law
  • Supporting educational improvement and reform
    by providing grants to states, local governments,
    and individual schools (often targeted to
    disadvantaged groups
  • Providing financial assistance to students to
    help pay for postsecondary education.
  • No Child Left Behind Policy Requires states to
    conduct annual proficiency tests

Role of State Governments  
Education policy and administration in the United
States begins at the state level and continues at
the local and institutional levels. Regardless of
size, each state and territory is internally
self-governing and has authority with respect to
educational matters within its jurisdiction.
Education policy is developed by the State
Board of Education and the State Legislature,
while the State Department of Education is
responsible for implementing policy and
overseeing the state's school districts. State
Boards of Education are bodies of citizens that
are either appointed by the legislature or
governor, or elected by the public. Their job is
to conduct oversight of statewide educational
policies and operations, determine budget
priorities, approve new policies and guidelines
including curriculum guidelines and textbook
selection, approve certain professional
appointments, and consider requests from local
education agencies. The Texas State Board of
Education (SBOE) is the policy-making body of the
Texas Education Agency (TEA), which coordinates
all public educational activities and services
except those of colleges and universities.
Texas Education Agency establishes state
curriculum guidelines and mandates a
yearly schedule of testing to assess student
progress (Texas Assessment of Academic Skills)
State Commissioner of Education
  • Responsible for the day-to-day affairs of state
    departments of education and report periodically
    to the state board, the legislature, and the
  • Chartering or licensing institutions to operate
    within their jurisdictions
  • Establishing curriculum guidelines
  • Setting the minimum number of school days
  • Establishing school health and safety laws
  • Licensing or certifying school teachers and
  • Developing policies and regulations governing
    public primary and secondary education
  • Designating and appointing agencies and boards
    to oversee public education at all levels
  • Providing funding and technical assistance to
    local government agencies and schools.
  • Education tends to be the largest expenditure
    item in the budget of every state territory.
  • On average, state education expenditures
    account for about 48 of total education spending
    in the United States.
  • States do not generally regulate postsecondary
    education as closely as they do elementary
    and secondary education.

Role of Local Government
  • Even though constitutional authority over
    education is ultimately vested in the state
    governments, most states delegate the operation
    and many aspects of policymaking to local school
    districtsAuthority over the curriculum varies,
    with some states prescribing general curriculum
    guidelines, while others require compliance with
    specific requirements. Local school districts
    are governed by a School Board whose members can
    be elected and/or appointed. School board
    selects and hires the District Superintendent as
    the individual responsible for implementing
    policy and managing the day-to-day operations of
    the school district. School districts are
    responsible for the following
  • Hiring teachers, principals, and other staff
  • Setting teacher and administrator salaries
  • Administering teacher in-service training
  • Coordinating school bussing
  • Allocating budgets among schools and programs
  • Overseeing building construction and
  • Entering into partnerships with the community.

Organization and Administration of Local School
Elementary and secondary education generally
spans 12 academic years, or grades. The
academic year generally lasts approximately 9
months, or 180 days. Classes normally are in
session September to June. The school day for
all but the youngest children lasts from about
800 A.M. to 300 P.M. Ages for compulsory
schooling in the United States vary by state, but
all jurisdictions require school attendance. In
general, school attendance is required between
the ages of 6 and 16. There are about 26
million children in public elementary schools
(grades K-5) and almost 17 million children in
public secondary schools (grades 6-12). Private
elementary and secondary schools enroll another 5
million children.
School Finance
The funding of public elementary and secondary
schools in the United States is decentralized.
The federal government provides approximately
7 of total funding, while 47 and 46 of funding
comes from the state and the local governments,
respectively. The federal government provides
grants to states and school districts to support
improved educational quality and reforms. The
state governments also provide grants to school
districts and individual schools. In addition,
states generally administer to school districts
those funds granted to the state by the federal
government. In Texas, the state allocates funds
to local districts based on the average daily
attendance of each student.In addition to the
funding received from the federal government, the
state government, and the private sector, local
school districts receive a significant portion of
their budget from local government funds such as
bond issues and local property taxes
Curriculum Development
There is no standard national curriculum set by
law. The federal government is barred from
establishing curriculum. States establish their
own guidelines and policies for the curriculum
and considerable freedom is often left to local
and school authorities. Elementary education is
not divided into different tracks such as
academic or vocational. Secondary school
students generally have the option to pursue a
university preparationor a vocational-technical
Structure of the Education System in the United
  • Primary School Kindergarten to fifth grade
    (Early Childhood Education)
  • American children start school at the age of five
    years. It is required of all American children
    enrolled in the American education system.
  • Secondary school Grades six through twelve
  • Middle School Grades six through eight
  • High School Ninth through twelfth grades
  • High School Diploma Certificate indicating
    completion of the twelfth grade.In the American
    education system, students must obtain a high
    school diploma before they are admitted into
    college or university.
  • Undergraduate Schools Course of study In a
    specific area
  • Associate degree (two year degree)
  • Bachelors Degree) (four-year degree)
  • Graduate School
  • Students who obtain a bachelors degree can
    continue their education by pursuing one of two
    types of degrees
  • Masters degree (a two-year degree that is
    highly specialized in a specific field).
  • PhD degree (three to seven years depending on
    required research)
  • Certain courses of study are only available at
    the graduate school level in America law,
    dentistry, and medicine.

(No Transcript)
Special Programs in Secondary Education
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act The
    federal law that grants children with
    disabilities the right to receive a free
    appropriate public education.
  • Inclusion/Mainstreaming Individual
    Education Plan (IEP)/ Educational Modifications
  • Gifted Education Inquiry Academy, Jane Long
    Middle School Harmony Science Academy
  • Gifted and talented student means a child or
    youth who performs at or shows the potential for
    performing at a remarkably high level of
    accomplishment when compared to others of the
    same age, experience, or environment and who
  • Exhibits high performance capability in an
    intellectual, creative, or artistic area
  • Possesses an unusual capacity for leadership
  • Excels in a specific academic field.
  • Bilingual Education/English as a Second Language
    Programs Every student in the state who has a
    home language other than English and who is
    identified as limited English proficient shall be
    provided a full opportunity to participate in a
    bilingual education or English as a second
    language program
  • Alternative Education Programs (AEP) Each school
    district shall provide a disciplinary alternative
    education program in a setting other than a
    student's regular classroom provides that
    students who are assigned to the disciplinary
    alternative education program be separated from
    students who are not assigned to the program
    focuses on English language arts, mathematics,
    science, history, and self-discipline provides
    for students' educational and behavioral needs
    provides supervision and counseling.

Education System in the United States of
America An Overview
Martha R. Green, M.Ed. Program Coordinator
Office of International Outreach The Confucius
Institute at Texas AM University mgreen_at_ipomail.t http//