Education in the United States comprises three basic levels: elementary, secondary, and higher education. Vocational training, special education and adult education programs are also provided. About half of all U. S. children from age 3 through age 5 attend some kind of pre elementary school. The schools are of two main types: nursery schools and kindergartens. Kindergartens offer more advanced activities than do most nursery schools. Children attend elementary school from about age 6 to about 12 or 14.
A traditional elementary school is divided into six or eight grades. Elementary school pupils are taught skills they will use throughout life, such as reading, writing, and arithmetic. They learn moral values and the rights and duties of citizenship. They also receive instruction in such subjects as geography, history, and science. In the United States, almost all young people continue their education in secondary school. Secondary schooling includes junior and senior high schools. Most junior high schools include grades 7 through 9.
Pupils continue the general education begun in elementary school and also prepare for the type of training they will receive in senior high school. Most junior high school graduates attend a three – year senior high school, which consists of grades 10 through 12. Secondary school in designed to help students to become responsible members of the society and to prepare them for a job or for the advanced studies after graduation. Most high schools offer both general and vocational courses of study. These schools are called comprehensive high schools.
Students who plan to continue their education after graduating from high school will probably take a general, or college preparatory, course of study. If they intend to get a job immediately after graduation, they may choose a vocational course of study. Some large school systems operate separate vocational high schools. Schools in the U. S. are supported almost entirely from local, state, and federal taxes. Private schools are supported mainly by tuition fees and by contributions from churches, private organizations, etc. Higher education continues a person’s education beyond high school.
Institutions of higher learning include a wide variety of community and junior colleges, universities, and separate professional schools. After high school graduates receive a diploma they may choose any of them. Community and junior colleges offer two-year programs in both general and career education. Most technical institutes offer two-year programs in such fields as automotive engineering, business, and electronics. After completing a two-year course at a community college, junior college, or technical institute, a student receives an associate’s degree – or a certificate in the case of certain type of training.
Colleges and universities offer a four or five-year liberal arts program leading to a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. Many colleges and most universities offer advanced courses leading to a master’s or doctor’s degree. Most universities also have professional schools, which provide training in such fields as business, dentistry; education, law, and medicine. There are about 3,000 institutions of higher learning in the United States. More than half of them are privately owned and operated.