American System of Education

To serve their citizens and help the country prosper all countries in the world without exception provide public education to

American System of Education


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Министерство образования Саратовской области

Муниципальное общеобразовательное

учреждение Лицея № 37

Фрунзенского района







American System of Education



Творческая работа:

Учащейся 11 «А» класса

МОУ Лицея № 37

Шилиной Ксении Андреевны

Научный руководитель:

Учитель английского языка

Батушанская Ольга Михайловна









Саратов, 2009 г



I Introduction

2.1 Historical Background

2.2 A Brief Account of American Education: Differences and Similarities

2.3 Standards

2.4 American School from the Point of View of Russian Teenagers

2.5 What American Students think of their Educational System

2.6 Alumnis Experience

3 Conclusion

List of Literature


1 Introduction


Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary of English gives the following definition of education: “A process of teaching, training and learning, especially in schools or colleges, to improve knowledge and developing skills”.

To serve their citizens and help the country prosper all countries in the world without exception provide public education to children and teenagers as one of its main goals is to prepare students for productive citizenship, work and adult life. All this makes the notion of education universal while each country has its own system of education determined by its history, political system, culture, traditions and so on. The collapse of the iron curtain, modern technological developments like the Internet and ability to travel the world enable Russian students and educators to get more or less good idea of educational system of English speaking countries. The expansion of American culture, dominance of American movies on television familiarizes Russian viewers and movie-goers with life of American teenagers and American school. However a survey conducted among the high school students of Lyceum 37 proved that their awareness of American educational system leaves much to be desired.

So we have decided to examine the system of American education from different angles; that of the official sources such as Close up Foundation publications, American students and Russian participants of exchange programs and compare it to the opinions of Russian high school students.

Besides the above mentioned publications and public survey our research is based on the comments on American school system made by the students of the Sun Prairie High School, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.


2.1 Historical Background


Americans have always valued education. They have shown great concern for it since early colonial times. Among the first settlers, in fact, there was an unusually high proportion of educated men. In the Massachusetts Bay colony in early 1600s, as the British historian Rouse pointed out, “there was an average of one university man to every 40 or 50 families much higher than in Old England”.

In 1647 Massachusetts passed the law which required all towns with more than 50 families to provide a schoolmaster at public expense. It ran like this:

“It is being one chief project of that old deluder Satan to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures… by persuading from the use of tongues…that learning may not be buried in the graves of our fathers in the church and common wealth, the Lord assisting our endeavors: It is therefore ordered that every township in this jurisdiction, after the Lord has increased them to the number of 50 householders, shall then forthwith appoint one within the town to tech all such children as shall resort to him to write and read, whose wages shall be paid either by the parents or masters of such children, or by the inhabitants in general…”1

And it was further ordered that “where any town shall increase to the number of 100 families or householders, they shall set up a grammar school, the master thereof being able to instruct youth so far as they may be fittest for the university…”

Other colonies also made provisions for free public schools. In the course of the 17th century, for instance, free schools were established in a number of places such as New Haven, Hartford, New London and Fairfield. Many academies (schools offering a classical education) opened throughout the next century, including the one established by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia in 1751.

It is seen from the above mentioned that the Puritans viewed education as an important means of passing on religious teachings. However many Americans hoped that publicly supported schools would wipe out the legacy of the British system,1 Anderson E.A., Anderson N. J. Let Freedom Ring, a United States History. Silver Budget Company, 1977, p. 276

in which the ability to read and write separated the economic classes.

The importance of education in American life was also reflected in the Ordinances of 1785 and 1787 which set guidelines for organizing the new lands to the west. They provided for one square mile of land in each township to be reserved for public schools. By 1859, every state had provided for a system of free public schools open to all and paid by public taxes.

Since its inception in the mid-1800s the nations public school system has also helped millions of immigrant children learn the language and skills necessary to succeed in their new country. It goes without saying that a great deal of the economic, political, scientific, and cultural progress America has made in its relatively short history is due to its commitment to the ideal of equal opportunity. In this respect one cant but mention the landmark case of Brown V Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954) in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racially segregated public schools were unconstitutional. Later court decisions ordered schools to desegregate. To comply, many school districts began bussing students to schools outside their neighborhoods to bring together children of different races and ethnic backgrounds.

The aim of American education to educate as many Americans as possible to the best of their abilities is proved by recent legislation, including school voucher program, which enables students attend a public school outside their neighborhoods, and No Child Left Behind law passed by Congress in 2001. The latter reflects many of President George W. Bushs education initiatives, and aims to close achievement gaps among students from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as among those with special needs or learning disabilities. The belief that the future of society depends on the quantity and quality of its educated citizens makes it clear why a great many Americans are still willing to give more money to education.

2.2 A Brief Account of American Education: Differences and Similarities


Every American is entitled to an education. School attendance is compulsory for all children. Students attend school five to seven hours a day, five days a week for nine months each year, from September to June. Public education from kindergarten through grade 12 is tax-supported; no tuition is required.

About 85 per cent of American children attend public schools. The other 15 percent choose to pay tuition fees to attend private schools. The latter ones are mostly run by religious organizations and generally include religious instruction.

In spite of the above said the United States do not have a national system of education. Education is considered to be a matter for the people of each state. Although there is a Federal Department of Education, its function is merely to gather information, to advice, and to help finance certain educational programs. Education, Americans say, is “a national concern, a state responsibility, and a local function”. As a result, each of the 50 state legislatures is free to determine its own system for its own public schools.

In turn, however, state constitution gives the actual administrative control of the public schools to local communities. There are some 16000 school districts within the 50 states. School boards made up of individual citizens elected from each community oversee the schools in each district. They, not the state, set school policy and actually decide what is to be taught.

The major result of the decent realization is that there is enormous amount of variety and flexibility in elementary and secondary education throughout the nation. In public schools, decisions about school curriculum, teacher certification, and student achievement standards are made by Boards of Education at the state and/or district level. For example, although all states today require that children attend school until a certain age, it varies from 14 to 18 years. Or, as another example, in about 60 per cent of the states, local schools are free to choose any teaching materials or textbooks which they think are appropriate. In the remaining states, only such teaching materials may be used in public schools which have been approved by the state boards of education. Some school systems require that a high school student completes three years of mathematics, before graduation. The national average however is lower.

Funding for schools is another source of difference. Communities and states that are able or willing to pay more for school buildings, materials, and teachers, almost always have better educational systems than those that cannot or do not.

Because of the gr

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