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Posted by bender 03/03/2009 @ 20:07

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Obama—Who Opposes School Choice—Touts Sotomayor's 'Good' Catholic ... -
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon) ( - President Barack Obama—who opposes school choice in general and whose education secretary last month prevented any new children from entering a school-choice program in Washington, DC--touted the fact that his...
Wash. gets $672M in education stimulus - Seattle Times
The state is receiving $672 million in federal stimulus money that state officials say will help offset budget cuts in the K-12 education system. The state is receiving $672 million in federal stimulus money that state officials say will help offset...
AMD expands Changing the Game education program - Neoseeker
AMD, in keeping with its corporate responsibility practices, announces today expansion of their Changing the Game education program, signing three new partners and grants for each, on top of teaming with the Games for Change Festival, which starts...
Governor proposes big cuts to college physical education - San Jose Mercury News
Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed trimming state money for physical education courses at community colleges, leaving athletic programs at the two-year schools in doubt. Under the governor's proposal, PE classes would be funded as noncredit courses,...
Charter school busing cut draws ire - Boston Globe
But now Superintendent Carol Johnson wants to end the ride for many of those students - a move that has placed her at odds with many charter school leaders and that state education leaders say would be illegal. Johnson's plan, part of a broader effort...
NC Education budget could be slashed -
By Fred Shropshire RALEIGH (WTVD) -- North Carolina lawmakers have to find $4.5 billion in savings to balance the state budget, and public education could be the target. A plan in the House of Representatives would slash $1.8 billion from schools....
Noah Education Holdings Ltd. F3Q09 (Qtr End 03/31/09) Earnings ... - Seeking Alpha
Welcome to the Noah Education third quarter fiscal 2009 financial results conference call. (Operator Instructions) Joining the conference today are Mr. Dong Zu, Chairman and CEO, Mr. Rick Chen, Executive Vice President and Miss Dora Li, Chief Financial...
Recession Imperils Loan Forgiveness Programs - New York Times
By JONATHAN D. GLATER When a Kentucky agency cut back its program to forgive student loans for schoolteachers, Travis B. Gay knew he and his wife, Stephanie — both special-education teachers — were in trouble. Travis Gay of Lawrenceburg, Ky.,...
Number of Students Blocked by Md. Exit Exams Drops - Washington Post
By Nelson Hernandez With less than a month left in the school year, Maryland education officials have about 2500 fewer reasons to be worried about the fallout from enforcement of the state's new exit exam requirement. The number of high school seniors...
Finally, a Credible Free Online Source for Science Education - Wired News
Nature Publishing Group, which publishes the highly-regarded international scientific journal Nature, is branching out into education with a website called Scitable. Scitable, which launched in January, is aimed primarily at college and later students...


World map indicating Education Index (according to 2007/2008 Human Development Report)

Education is the learning of knowledge, information and skills during the course of life. Teachers may draw on many subjects, including reading, writing, mathematics, science and history. Teachers in specialized professions such as astrophysics, law, or zoology may teach only a certain subject,usually as professors at institutions of higher learning. There is much specialist instruction in fields for those who want specific skills, such as required to be a pilot, for example. Finally, there is an array of educational opportunity at the informal level- such as with museums, libraries and the Internet. Informal education also includes knowledge and skills learned during the course of life, including education that comes from experience.

The right to education has been described as a basic human right: since 1952, Article 2 of the first Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights obliges all signatory parties to guarantee the right to education. At world level, the United Nations' International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966 guarantees this right under its Article 13.

Primary (or elementary) education consists of the first years of formal, structured education. In general, primary education consists of six or seven years of schooling starting at the age of 5 or 6, although this varies between, and sometimes within, countries. Globally, around 70% of primary-age children are enrolled in primary education, and this proportion is rising. Under the Education for All programs driven by UNESCO, most countries have committed to achieving universal enrollment in primary education by 2015, and in many countries, it is compulsory for children to receive primary education. The division between primary and secondary education is somewhat arbitrary, but it generally occurs at about eleven or twelve years of age. Some education systems have separate middle schools, with the transition to the final stage of secondary education taking place at around the age of fourteen. Schools that provide primary education, are mostly referred to as primary schools. Primary schools in these countries are often subdivided into infant schools and junior schools.

In most contemporary educational systems of the world, secondary education consists of the second years of formal education that occur during adolescence. It is characterised by transition from the typically compulsory, comprehensive primary education for minors, to the optional, selective tertiary, "post-secondary", or "higher" education (e.g., university, vocational school) for adults. Depending on the system, schools for this period, or a part of it, may be called secondary or high schools, gymnasiums, lyceums, middle schools, colleges, or vocational schools. The exact meaning of any of these terms varies from one system to another. The exact boundary between primary and secondary education also varies from country to country and even within them, but is generally around the seventh to the tenth year of schooling. Secondary education occurs mainly during the teenage years. In the United States and Canada primary and secondary education together are sometimes referred to as K-12 education, and in New Zealand Year 1-13 is used. The purpose of secondary education can be to give common knowledge, to prepare for higher education or to train directly in a profession.

Educational Systems varies in different countries. Some countries have have 8 years in primary school while others have only six years. Depending the curriculum created by the different education systems in each country. In the Philippines we have only 6 years in primary schools while in china primary shcool has seven years before going to secondary schools. Educational system depend on how they will be impart on the quality of teaching levels being teach to the children.

Higher education, also called tertiary, third stage, or post secondary education, is the non-compulsory educational level that follows the completion of a school providing a secondary education, such as a high school, secondary school. Tertiary education is normally taken to include undergraduate and postgraduate education, as well as vocational education and training. Colleges and universities are the main institutions that provide tertiary education. Collectively, these are sometimes known as tertiary institutions. Tertiary education generally results in the receipt of certificates, diplomas, or academic degrees.

Higher education includes teaching, research and social services activities of universities, and within the realm of teaching, it includes both the undergraduate level (sometimes referred to as tertiary education) and the graduate (or postgraduate) level (sometimes referred to as graduate school). Higher education in that country generally involves work towards a degree-level or foundation degree qualification. In most developed countries a high proportion of the population (up to 50%) now enter higher education at some time in their lives. Higher education is therefore very important to national economies, both as a significant industry in its own right, and as a source of trained and educated personnel for the rest of the economy.

Adult education has become common in many countries. It takes on many forms, ranging from formal class-based learning to self-directed learning.

Alternative education, also known as non-traditional education or educational alternative, is a broad term that may be used to refer to all forms of education outside of traditional education (for all age groups and levels of education). This may include not only forms of education designed for students with special needs (ranging from teenage pregnancy to intellectual disability), but also forms of education designed for a general audience and employing alternative educational philosophies and methods.

Alternatives of the latter type are often the result of education reform and are rooted in various philosophies that are commonly fundamentally different from those of traditional compulsory education. While some have strong political, scholarly, or philosophical orientations, others are more informal associations of teachers and students dissatisfied with certain aspects of traditional education. These alternatives, which include charter schools, alternative schools, independent schools, and home-based learning vary widely, but often emphasize the value of small class size, close relationships between students and teachers, and a sense of community.

Increasingly, the inclusion of indigenous models of education (methods and content) as an alternative within the scope of formal and non-formal education systems, has come to represent a significant factor contributing to the success of those members of indigenous communities who choose to access these systems, both as students/learners and as teachers/instructors.

As an educational method, the inclusion of indigenous ways of knowing, learning, instructing, teaching and training, has been viewed by many critical and postmodern scholars as important for ensuring that students/learners and teachers/instructors (whether indigenous or non-indigenous) are able to benefit from education in a culturally sensitive manner that draws upon, utilizes, promotes and enhances awareness of indigenous traditions.

For indigenous students/learners and teachers/instructors, the inclusion of these methods often enhances educational effectiveness, success and learning outcomes by providing education that adheres to their own inherent perspectives, experiences and worldview. For non-indigenous students/learners and teachers/instructors, education using such methods often has the effect of raising awareness of the individual traditions and collective experience of surrounding indigenous communities and peoples, thereby promoting greater respect for and appreciation of the cultural realities of these communities and peoples.

In terms of educational content, the inclusion of indigenous knowledge, traditions, perspectives, worldviews and conceptions within curricula, instructional materials and textbooks/coursebooks has been shown to have largely the same effects as the inclusion of indigenous methods in education. Indigenous students/learners and teachers/instructors benefit from enhanced academic effectiveness, success and learning outcomes, while non-indigenous students/learners and teachers/instructors often have greater awareness, respect, and appreciation for indigenous communities and peoples in consequence of the content that is shared during the course of educational pursuits.

A prime example of how indigenous methods and content can be used to promote the above outcomes is demonstrated within higher education in Canada. Due to certain jurisdictions' focus on enhancing academic success for Aboriginal learners and promoting the values of multiculturalism in society, the inclusion of indigenous methods and content in education is often seen as an important obligation and duty of both governmental and educational authorities.

As academic education is more and more the norm and standard, companies and individuals are looking less at normal education as to what is deemed a good solid educated person/worker. Most well-educated and successful entrepreneurs have high communication skills with humanistic and warm "emotional intelligence".

In certain places, especially in the United States, the term alternative may largely refer to forms of education catering to "at risk" students, as it is, for example, in this definition drafted by the Massachusetts Department of Education.

An academic discipline is a branch of knowledge which is formally taught, either at the university, or via some other such method. Functionally, disciplines are usually defined and recognized by the academic journals in which research is published, and by the learned societies to which their practitioners belong. Professors say schooling is 80% psychological, 20% physical effort.

Each discipline usually has several sub-disciplines or branches, and distinguishing lines are often both arbitrary and ambiguous. Examples of broad areas of academic disciplines include the natural sciences, mathematics, computer science, social sciences, humanities and applied sciences.

There has been a great deal of work on learning styles over the last two decades. Dunn and Dunn focused on identifying relevant stimuli that may influence learning and manipulating the school environment, at about the same time as Joseph Renzulli recommended varying teaching strategies. Howard Gardner identified individual talents or aptitudes in his Multiple Intelligences theories. Based on the works of Jung, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Keirsey Temperament Sorter focused on understanding how people's personality affects the way they interact personally, and how this affects the way individuals respond to each other within the learning environment. The work of David Kolb and Anthony Gregorc's Type Delineator follows a similar but more simplified approach.

It is claimed that, depending on their preferred learning modality, different teaching techniques have different levels of effectiveness. A consequence of this theory is that effective teaching should present a variety of teaching methods which cover all three learning modalities so that different students have equal opportunities to learn in a way that is effective for them.

Teachers need the ability to understand a subject well enough to convey its essence to a new generation of students. The goal is to establish a sound knowledge base on which students will be able to build as they are exposed to different life experiences. The passing of knowledge from generation to generation allows students to grow into useful members of society. Good teachers can translate information, good judgment, experience and wisdom into relevant knowledge that a student can understand, retain and pass to others. Studies from the US suggest that the quality of teachers is the single most important factor affecting student performance, and that countries which score highly on international tests have multiple policies in place to ensure that the teachers they employ are as effective as possible.

Some critics of today's schools, of the concept of learning disabilities, of special education, and of response to intervention, take the position that every child has a different learning style and pace and that each child is unique, not only capable of learning but also capable of succeeding.

Sudbury model of democratic education schools assert that there are many ways to study and learn. They argue that learning is a process you do, not a process that is done to you. The experience of Sudbury model democratic schools shows that there are many ways to learn without the intervention of teaching, to say, without the intervention of a teacher being imperative. In the case of reading for instance in the Sudbury model democratic schools some children learn from being read to, memorizing the stories and then ultimately reading them. Others learn from cereal boxes, others from games instructions, others from street signs. Some teach themselves letter sounds, others syllables, others whole words. Sudbury model democratic schools adduce that in their schools no one child has ever been forced, pushed, urged, cajoled, or bribed into learning how to read or write, and they have had no dyslexia. None of their graduates are real or functional illiterates, and no one who meets their older students could ever guess the age at which they first learned to read or write. In a similar form students learn all the subjects, techniques and skills in these schools.

Describing current instructional methods as homogenization and lockstep standardization, alternative approaches are proposed, such as the Sudbury model of democratic education schools, an alternative approach in which children, by enjoying personal freedom thus encouraged to exercise personal responsibility for their actions, learn at their own pace and style rather than following a compulsory and chronologically-based curriculum. Proponents of unschooling have also claimed that children raised in this method learn at their own pace and style, and do not suffer from learning disabilities.

Technology is an increasingly influential factor in education. Computers and mobile phones are being widely used in developed countries both to complement established education practices and develop new ways of learning such as online education (a type of distance education). This gives students the opportunity to choose what they are interested in learning. The proliferation of computers also means the increase of programming and blogging. Technology offers powerful learning tools that demand new skills and understandings of students, including Multimedia, and provides new ways to engage students, such as Virtual learning environments. Technology is being used more not only in administrative duties in education but also in the instruction of students. The use of technologies such as PowerPoint and interactive whiteboard is capturing the attention of students in the classroom. Technology is also being used in the assessment of students. One example is the Audience Response System (ARS), which allows immediate feedback tests and classroom discussions.

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are a “diverse set of tools and resources used to communicate, create, disseminate, store, and manage information.” These technologies include computers, the Internet, broadcasting technologies (radio and television), and telephony. There is increasing interest in how computers and the Internet can improve education at all levels, in both formal and non-formal settings. Older ICT technologies, such as radio and television, have for over forty years been used for open and distance learning, although print remains the cheapest, most accessible and therefore most dominant delivery mechanism in both developed and developing countries.

The use of computers and the Internet is still in its infancy in developing countries, if these are used at all, due to limited infrastructure and the attendant high costs of access. Usually, various technologies are used in combination rather than as the sole delivery mechanism. For example, the Kothmale Community Radio Internet uses both radio broadcasts and computer and Internet technologies to facilitate the sharing of information and provide educational opportunities in a rural community in Sri Lanka. The Open University of the United Kingdom (UKOU), established in 1969 as the first educational institution in the world wholly dedicated to open and distance learning, still relies heavily on print-based materials supplemented by radio, television and, in recent years, online programming. Similarly, the Indira Gandhi National Open University in India combines the use of print, recorded audio and video, broadcast radio and television, and audio conferencing technologies.

The term "computer-assisted learning" (CAL) has been increasingly used to describe the use of technology in teaching.

The history of education according to Dieter Lenzen, president of the Freie Universität Berlin 1994 "began either millions of years ago or at the end of 1770". Education as a science cannot be separated from the educational traditions that existed before. Adults trained the young of their society in the knowledge and skills they would need to master and eventually pass on. The evolution of culture, and human beings as a species depended on this practice of transmitting knowledge. In pre-literate societies this was achieved orally and through imitation. Story-telling continued from one generation to the next. Oral language developed into written symbols and letters. The depth and breadth of knowledge that could be preserved and passed soon increased exponentially. When cultures began to extend their knowledge beyond the basic skills of communicating, trading, gathering food, religious practices, etc, formal education, and schooling, eventually followed. Schooling in this sense was already in place in Egypt between 3000 and 500BC.

The philosophy of education is the study of the purpose, nature and ideal content of education. Related topics include knowledge itself, the nature of the knowing mind and the human subject, problems of authority, and the relationship between education and society. At least since Locke's time, the philosophy of education has been linked to theories of developmental psychology and human development.

A central tenet of education typically includes “the imparting of knowledge.” At a very basic level, this purpose ultimately deals with the nature, origin and scope of knowledge. The branch of philosophy that addresses these and related issues is known as epistemology. This area of study often focuses on analyzing the nature and variety of knowledge and how it relates to similar notions such as truth and belief.

While the term, knowledge, is often used to convey this general purpose of education, it can also be viewed as part of a continuum of knowing that ranges from very specific data to the highest levels. Seen in this light, the continuum may be thought to consist of a general hierarchy of overlapping levels of knowing. Students must be able to connect new information to a piece of old information to be better able to learn, understand, and retain information. This continuum may include notions such as data, information, knowledge, wisdom, and realization.

The ideal or holistic education is conscious evolutionary transformation that aims at holistic health i.e. simultaneous welfare of one and all. This requires conscious development of fitness of one's body, refinements of instincts, broadening and profoundness of emotions, blossoming of intelligence and liberating perspective of universal oneness. Besides, cognitive, affective and psychomotor the productive domain also must be nurtured for this.

Educational psychology is the study of how humans learn in educational settings, the effectiveness of educational interventions, the psychology of teaching, and the social psychology of schools as organizations. Although the terms "educational psychology" and "school psychology" are often used interchangeably, researchers and theorists are likely to be identified as educational psychologists, whereas practitioners in schools or school-related settings are identified as school psychologists. Educational psychology is concerned with the processes of educational attainment in the general population and in sub-populations such as gifted children and those with specific disabilities.

Educational psychology can in part be understood through its relationship with other disciplines. It is informed primarily by psychology, bearing a relationship to that discipline analogous to the relationship between medicine and biology. Educational psychology in turn informs a wide range of specialities within educational studies, including instructional design, educational technology, curriculum development, organizational learning, special education and classroom management. Educational psychology both draws from and contributes to cognitive science and the learning sciences. In universities, departments of educational psychology are usually housed within faculties of education, possibly accounting for the lack of representation of educational psychology content in introductory psychology textbooks (Lucas, Blazek, & Raley, 2006).

It has been argued that high rates of education are essential for countries to be able to achieve high levels of economic growth. Empirical analyses tend to support the theoretical prediction that poor countries should grow faster than rich countries because they can adopt cutting edge technologies already tried and tested by rich countries. Recent study of the determinants of aggregate economic growth have stressed the importance of fundamental economic institutions and the role of cognitive skills.

At the individual level, there is a large literature, generally related back to the work of Jacob Mincer, on how earnings are related to the schooling and other human capital of the individual. This work has motivated a large number of studies, but is also controversial. The chief controversies revolve around how to interpret the impact of schooling.

The sociology of education is the study of how social institutions and forces affect educational processes and outcomes, and vice versa. By many, education is understood to be a means of overcoming handicaps, achieving greater equality and acquiring wealth and status for all (Sargent 1994). Learners may be motivated by aspirations for progress and betterment. Education is perceived as a place where children can develop according to their unique needs and potentialities. The purpose of education can be to develop every individual to their full potential. The understanding of the goals and means of educational socialization processes differs according to the sociological paradigm used.

In some developing countries, the number and seriousness of the problems faced are naturally greater. People in more remote or agrarian areas are sometimes unaware of the importance of education. However, many countries have an active Ministry of Education, and in many subjects, such as foreign language learning, the degree of education is actually much higher than in industrialized countries; for example, it is not at all uncommon for students in many developing countries to be reasonably fluent in multiple foreign languages, whereas this is much more of a rarity in the supposedly "more educated" countries where much of the population is in fact monolingual.

There is also economic pressure from those parents who prefer their children making money in the short term over any long-term benefits of education. Recent studies on child labor and poverty have suggested that when poor families reach a certain economic threshold where families are able to provide for their basic needs, parents return their children to school. This has been found to be true, once the threshold has been breached, even if the potential economic value of the children's work has increased since their return to school. Teachers are often paid less than other similar professions.

A lack of good universities, and a low acceptance rate for good universities, is evident in countries with a relatively high population density. In some countries, there are uniform, over structured, inflexible centralized programs from a central agency that regulates all aspects of education.

India is now developing technologies that will skip land based phone and internet lines. Instead, India launched EDUSAT, an education satellite that can reach more of the country at a greatly reduced cost. There is also an initiative started by a group out of MIT and supported by several major corporations to develop a $100 laptop. The laptops should be available by late 2006 or 2007. The laptops, sold at cost, will enable developing countries to give their children a digital education, and to close the digital divide across the world.

In Africa, NEPAD has launched an "e-school programme" to provide all 600,000 primary and high schools with computer equipment, learning materials and internet access within 10 years. Private groups, like The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are working to give more individuals opportunities to receive education in developing countries through such programs as the Perpetual Education Fund. An International Development Agency project called, started with the support of American President Bill Clinton, uses the Internet to allow co-operation by individuals on issues of social development.

Education is becoming increasingly international. Not only are the materials becoming more influenced by the rich international environment, but exchanges among students at all levels are also playing an increasingly important role. In Europe, for example, the Socrates-Erasmus Programme stimulates exchanges across European universities. Also, the Soros Foundation provides many opportunities for students from central Asia and eastern Europe. Some scholars argue that, regardless of whether one system is considered better or worse than another, experiencing a different way of education can often be considered to be the most important, enriching element of an international learning experience.

Article 28: Social order · Article 29.1: Social responsibility  · Article 29.2: Limitations of human rights · Article 29.3: The supremacy of the purposes and principles of the United Nations Article 30: Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

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Primary education

A primary school in Český Těšín, Czech Republic

Primary education is the first stage of compulsory education. It is preceded by pre-school or nursery education and is followed by secondary education. In North America this stage of education is usually known as elementary education.

In most countries, it is compulsory for children to receive primary education, though in many jurisdictions it is permissible for parents to provide it. The transition to secondary school or high school is somewhat arbitrary, but it generally occurs at about eleven or twelve years of age. Some educational systems have separate middle schools with the transition to the final stage of education taking place at around the age of fourteen.

The major goals of primary education are achieving basic literacy and numeracy amongst all pupils, as well as establishing foundations in science, geography, history and other social sciences. The relative priority of various areas, and the methods used to teach them, are an area of considerable political debate.

Typically, primary education is provided in schools, where the child will stay in steadily advancing classes until they complete it and move on to high school/secondary school. Children are usually placed in classes with one teacher who will be primarily responsible for their education and welfare for that year. This teacher may be assisted to varying degrees by specialist teachers in certain subject areas, often music or physical education. The continuity with a single teacher and the opportunity to build up a close relationship with the class is a notable feature of the primary education system.

Traditionally, various forms of corporal punishment have been an integral part of early education. Recently this practice has come under attack, and in many cases been outlawed, especially in Western countries.

In Denmark, 9 years of primary school (Folkeskole) are compulsory.

The first school for German students is called de:Grundschule. It takes usually four years, the pupils are between six and ten years old. The education consists of learning to read, write, basic math and general knowledge. In some schools, a first foreign language is introduced, usually English.

Junior and Senior infants correspond to Kindergarten.

The content of the Religion course taught depends on the management of the school. Many schools are managed and owned by the Roman Catholic Church, with a lesser number belonging to the Church of Ireland and a handful run by other religions such as Muslims, or to a new group called "Educate Together" which advocates a neutral approach to religion. Each school body decides on the emphasis of its religious instruction. In Catholic schools 2nd and 6th class prepare children for Holy Communion and Confirmation respectively. In the Church of Ireland this preparation is done when the pupil is aged about 14 years, and is in secondary school.

Children may start at primary school at any age between three and six years of age. However only a small minority begins school at three, and many schools will not accept children until they are four. Children accepted into school at three often have to live within the parish where the school is located. Most children finish primary school at or around twelve years of age.

Schools used to have a six day school week, Monday to Saturday. Lately, as of 2008, most elementary and middle schools have reduced the school week to five days, with high schools remaining with six.

Children in the Netherlands must be at least four years old to enter primary education. Almost all 4-year-olds (99.3%) in the Netherlands indeed attend primary school, although this is not compulsory until children reach the age of 5. Primary school is free of charge. In most schools, children are grouped by age in mixed ability classes, with one teacher for all subjects. Primary school consists of 8 groups (thus 8 years of scholing). During the first two years (kindergarten), children receive an average of 22 hours of education, during the last 6 years children receive an average of 25 hours per week. Schools are open 5 days a week, but children are free on Wednesday afternoon. At the end of primary school, in group 8, schools advice on secondary school choice. Most schools use a national test to support this advice, for instance the 'Citotoets', a test developed by the Central Institute for Test development.

Primary education is provided by state schools run by the government and by independent fee-paying schools. In the state system children are either educated in separate infant and junior schools or in a combined primary school. Schools in the private sector providing primary education are generally known as preparatory schools or prep schools. In the private sector the transfer to the final stage of education often takes place at 14.

At the end of Key Stage 2 in Year 6 all children in state primary schools are required to take National Curriculum tests in reading, writing, mathematics and science also called SATs. All state primary schools are under the jurisdiction of the Department for Children, Schools and Families and are required to receive regular inspections by the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED). Private schools are inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate.

At the end of Key Stage 2 in P7, all children are offered the voluntary Eleven Plus (also called the transfer procedure) examinations, though the parents of thirty percent of children elect not to, and send their kids to secondary schools instead of grammar schools.

All state primary schools are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education.

In the US the first stage of compulsory education is generally known as elementary education. It takes place in elementary schools which usually incorporate the first five grades and sometimes have a kindergarten. Elementary schools in the US are also known as grade schools or grammar schools. In some schools, teachers utilize a "looping system" where the same teacher teaches the same group of students for two years. For example, a third-grade class may have one teacher who would teach those students for an entire year, then that teacher would teach fourth-grade the next year, and thereby teach the same class again. The teacher would then revert back to the third grade the following year to start the process all over with a different group of students.

Over the past few decades, schools in the USA have been testing various arrangements which break from the one-teacher, one-class mould. Multi-age programmes, where children in different grades (e.g. Kindergarten through to second grade) share the same classroom and teachers, is one increasingly popular alternative to traditional elementary instruction. An alternative is that children might have a main class and go to another teacher's room for one subject, such as science, while the science teacher's main class will go to the other teacher's room for another subject, such as social studies. This could be called a two-teacher, two-class mould, or a rotation, similar to the concept of teams in junior high school. Another method is to have the children have one set of classroom teachers in the first half of the year, and a different set of classroom teachers in the second half of the year.

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Education in the United States


Education in the United States is provided mainly by government, with control and funding coming from three levels: federal, state, and local. School attendance is mandatory and nearly universal at the primary and secondary levels (often known inside the United States as the elementary and high school levels). At these levels, school curricula, funding, teaching, and other policies are set through locally elected school boards with jurisdiction over school districts. School districts are usually separate from other local jurisdictions, with independent officials and budgets. Educational standards and standardized testing decisions are usually made by state governments.

The ages for compulsory education vary by state, beginning at ages five to eight and ending at the ages of fourteen to eighteen. A growing number of states are now requiring school attendance until the age of 18.

Compulsory education requirements can generally be satisfied by attending public schools, state-certified private schools, or an approved home school program. In most public and private schools, education is divided into three levels: elementary school, junior high school (also often called middle school), and senior high school. In almost all schools at these levels, children are divided by age groups into grades, ranging from kindergarten (followed by first grade) for the youngest children in elementary school, up to twelfth grade, which is the final year of high school. The exact age range of students in these grade levels varies slightly from area to area.

Post-secondary education, better known as "college" in the United States, is generally governed separately from the elementary and high school system, and is described in a separate section below.

In the year 2000, there were 76.6 million students enrolled in schools from kindergarten through graduate schools. Of these, 72 percent aged 12 to 17 were judged academically "on track" for their age (enrolled in school at or above grade level). Of those enrolled in compulsory education, 5.2 million (10.4 percent) were attending private schools. Among the country's adult population, over 85 percent have completed high school and 27 percent have received a bachelor's degree or higher. The average salary for college or university graduates is greater than $51,000, exceeding the national average of those without a high school diploma by more than $23,000, according to a 2005 study by the U.S. Census Bureau. While the United States presently leads the world with over 5,000 Montessori schools, the People's Republic of China (PRC) has expressed ambitions to replace much of their school system with the Montessori method's pedagogy. As part of a trial run towards achieving this objective, the PRC Minister of Education called for 1,000 teachers to receive certification from the Association Montessori Internationale in 2007. The U.S. Department of Education has no formal plans to compete against China on similar initiatives at this time.

The country has a reading literacy rate at 98% of the population over age 15, while ranking below average in science and mathematics understanding compared to other developed countries. In 2008, there was a 77% graduation rate from high school, below most developed countries.

The poor performance has pushed public and private efforts such as the No Child Left Behind Act. In addition, the ratio of college-educated adults entering the workforce to general population (33%) is slightly below the mean of other developed countries (35%) and rate of participation of the labor force in continuing education is high. A 2000s study by Jon Miller of Michigan State University concluded that "A slightly higher proportion of American adults qualify as scientifically literate than European or Japanese adults".

In the U.S. the first year of compulsory schooling begins with children at the age of five or six. Children are then placed in year groups known as grades, beginning with first grade and culminating in twelfth grade. The U.S. uses ordinal numbers for naming grades, unlike Canada and Australia where cardinal numbers are preferred. Thus, Americans are more likely to say "First Grade" rather than "Grade One". Typical ages and grade groupings in public and private schools may be found through the U.S. Department of Education. Many different variations exist across the country.

There are no mandatory public prekindergarten or crèche programs in the United States. The federal government funds the Head Start preschool program for children of low-income families, but most families are on their own with regard to finding a preschool or childcare.

In the large cities, there are sometimes upper-class preschools catering to the children of the wealthy. Because some upper-class families see these schools as the first step toward the Ivy League, there are even counselors who specialize in assisting parents and their toddlers through the preschool admissions process.

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 children begin elementary education with kindergarten (usually five to six years old) and finish secondary education with twelfth grade (usually eighteen years old). In some cases, pupils may be promoted beyond the next regular grade. Some states allow students to leave school between 14–17 with parental permission, before finishing high school; other states require students to stay in school until age 18.

Most parents send their children to either a public or private institution. According to government data, one-tenth of students are enrolled in private schools. Approximately 85% of students enter the public schools, largely because they are "free" (tax burdens by school districts vary from area to area). Most students attend school for around six hours per day, and usually anywhere from 175 to 185 days per year. Most schools have a summer break period for about two and half months from June through August. This break is much longer than in many other nations. Originally, "summer vacation," as it is colloquially called, allowed students to participate in the harvest period during the summer. However, this is remains largely by tradition. The other option available and being taken up by some schools is Year-round school.

Parents may also choose to educate their own children at home; 1.7% of children are educated in this manner.

Elementary school is a school of kindergarten through fifth grade (sometimes, the first eight grades or up to fourth grade or sixth grade), where basic subjects are taught. Elementary school provides and often remain in one or two classrooms throughout the school day, with the exceptions of physical education ("P.E." or "gym"), library,music, and art classes. There are (as of 2001) about 3.6 million children in each grade in the United States.

Typically, the curriculum within public elementary education is determined by individual school districts. The school district selects curriculum guides and textbooks that are reflective of a state's learning standards and benchmarks for a given grade level. Learning Standards are the goals by which states and school districts must meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) as mandated by No Child Left Behind. This description of school governance is simplistic at best, however, and school systems vary widely not only in the way curricular decisions are made but also in how teaching and learning take place. Some states and/or school districts impose more top-down mandates than others. In many schools, teachers play a significant role in curriculum design and there are few top-down mandates. Curricular decisions within private schools are made differently than in public schools and in most cases without consideration for NCLB.

Public Elementary School teachers typically instruct between twenty and thirty students of diverse learning needs. A typical classroom will include children with identified special needs as listed in Individuals with Disabilities Act IDEA to those that are cognitively, athletically or artistically gifted. At times an individual school district identifies areas of need within the curriculum. Teachers and advisory administrators form committees to develop supplemental materials to support learning for diverse learners and identify enrichment for textbooks. Many school districts post information about the curriculum and supplemental materials on websites for public access. Teachers receive a book to give to the students for each subject and brief overviews of what they are expected to teach. In general, a student learns basic arithmetic and sometimes rudimentary algebra in mathematics, English proficiency (such as basic grammar, spelling, and vocabulary), and fundamentals of other subjects. Learning standards are identified for all areas of curriculum by individual States, including those for math, social studies, science, physical development, the fine arts as well as reading. While the concept of State Learning standards has been around for some time, No Child Left Behind has mandated standards exist at the State level.

Elementary School teachers are trained with emphases on human cognitive and psychological development and the principles of curriculum development and instruction earning either a Bachelors or Masters Degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. The teaching of social studies and science are often underdeveloped in some elementary school programs and some attribute this to the fact that elementary school teachers are trained as generalists. However, teachers attribute this to the priority placed on developing reading, writing and math proficiency in the elementary grades and the amount of time needed to do so. Reading, writing and math proficiency greatly affect performance in social studies, science and other content areas. Certification standards for teachers are determined by individual States, with individual colleges and universities determining the rigor of the college education provided for future teachers. Some states require content area tests as well as instructional skills tests to be certified as a teacher within that state. Social studies may include key events, documents, understandings, and concepts in American history and geography, and in some programs, state or local history and geography; science varies widely. Most States have predetermined the number of minutes that will be taught within a given content area. As No Child Left Behind focuses on reading and math as primary targets for improvement, other instructional areas have received less attention. There is much discussion within educational circles about the justification and impact of singularly focusing on reading and math as tested areas for improvement.

Junior high school is any school intermediate between elementary school and senior high school. It usually includes seventh and eighth grade, and sometimes sixth or ninth grade. In some locations, junior high school includes ninth grade only, allowing students to adjust to a high school environment. Middle school is often used instead of junior high school when demographic factors increase the number of younger students. At this time, students are given more independence as choosing their own classes. Usually, starting in ninth grade, grades become part of a student’s official transcript. Future employers or colleges may want to see steady improvement in grades and a good attendance record on the official transcript. Therefore, students are encouraged to take much more responsibility for their education.

Senior high school is a school attended after junior high school. High school is often used instead of senior high school and distinguished from junior high school.

Generally, at the high school level, students take a broad variety of classes without special emphasis in any particular subject. Curricula vary widely in quality and rigidity; for example, some states consider 70 (on a 100-point scale) to be a passing grade, while others consider it to be as low as 60 or as high as 75.

Many states require a "health" course in which students learn about anatomy, nutrition, first aid, sexuality, and birth control. Anti-drug use programs are also usually part of health courses. In many cases, however, options are provided for students to "test out" or perform independent study in order to complete this requirement. Foreign language and some form of art education are also a mandatory part of the curriculum in some schools.

Many high schools offer a wide variety of Elective courses, although the availability of such courses depends upon each particular school's financial resources and desired curriculum emphases.

Many high schools provide Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. These are special forms of honors classes where the curriculum is more challenging and lessons more aggressively paced than standard courses. AP or IB courses are usually taken during the 11th or 12th grade of high school.

Most post-secondary institutions take AP or IB exam results into consideration in the admissions process. Because AP and IB courses are intended to be the equivalent of the first year of college courses, post-secondary institutions may grant unit credit which enables students to graduate early. Other institutions use examinations for placement purposes only: students are exempted from introductory course work but may not receive credit towards a concentration, degree, or core requirement. Institutions vary in the selection of examinations they accept and the scores they require to grant credit or placement, with more elite institutions tending to accept fewer examinations and requiring higher scoring. The lack of AP, IB, and other advanced courses in impoverished inner-city high schools is often seen as a major cause of the greatly differing levels of post-secondary education these graduates go on to receive, compared with both public and private schools in wealthier neighborhoods.

Also, in states with well-developed community college systems, there are often mechanisms by which gifted students may seek permission from their school district to attend community college courses full time during the summer, and during the school year. The units earned this way can often be transferred to one's university, and can facilitate early graduation. Early college entrance programs are a step further, with students enrolling as freshmen at a younger-than-traditional age.

There were 1.5 million children that were home schooled in 2007, up 74% from 1999 when the US Department of Education first started keeping statistics. This was 2.9% of all children.

Parents select moral or religious reasons for home schooling their children. The second main category is "unschooling," those who prefer a non-standard approach to education.

Most homeschooling advocates are wary of the established educational institutions for various reasons. Some are religious conservatives who see nonreligious education as contrary to their moral or religious systems, or who wish to add religious instruction to the educational curriculum (and who may be unable to afford a church-operated private school, or where the only available school may teach views contrary to those of the parents). Others feel that they can more effectively tailor a curriculum to suit an individual student’s academic strengths and weaknesses, especially those with singular needs or disabilities. Still others feel that the negative social pressures of schools (such as bullying, drugs, crime, and other school-related problems) are detrimental to a child’s proper development. Parents often form groups to help each other in the homeschooling process, and may even assign classes to different parents, similar to public and private schools.

Opposition to homeschooling comes from varied sources, including teachers' organizations and school districts. The National Education Association, the largest labor union in the United States, has been particularly vocal in the past. Opponents' stated concerns fall into several broad categories, including fears of poor academic quality, loss of income for the schools, and religious or social extremism, or lack of socialization with others. At this time, over half of states have oversight into monitoring or measuring the academic progress of home schooled students, with all but ten requiring some form of notification to the state.

In schools in the United States children are continually assessed throughout the school year by their teachers, and report cards are issued to parents at varying intervals. Generally the scores for individual assignments and tests are recorded for each student in a grade book, along with the maximum number of points for each assignment. At any time, the total number of points for a student when divided by the total number of possible points produces a percent grade which can be translated to a letter grade. Letter grades are often used on report cards at the end of a marking period, although the current grade may be available at other times (particularly when an electronic grade book connected to an online service is in use). Although grading scales usually differ from school to school, the grade scale which seems to be most common is as follows. The grading is based on a scale of 0-100 or a percentile. Note that in some jurisdictions, Texas or Virginia as an example, the "D" grade (or that below 70) is considered a failing grade. In other jurisdictions, such as Hawaii, a "D" grade is considered passing in certain classes, and failing in others.

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, all American states must test students in public schools statewide to ensure that they are achieving the desired level of minimum education, such as on the Regents Examinations in New York, or the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT), and the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS); students being educated at home or in private schools are not included. The Act also requires that students and schools show "adequate yearly progress." This means they must show some improvement each year.

Although these tests may have revealed the results of student learning, they may have little value to help strengthen the students' academic weakness. For example, in most states, the results of the testing would not be known until six months later. At that time, the students may have been promoted to the next grade or might be entering a new school. The students are not given a chance to review the questions and their own answers but their percentile of the test results are compared with their own peers. To address this situation many school districts have implemented MAP. Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) tests are state-aligned computerized adaptive assessments that measure the instructional level of each student's growth over time.

This research based testing allows elementary school teachers to have ongoing access to student progress. Teachers using this system can identify strengths and weaknesses of individual students and remediate where necessary. When a student fails to make adequate yearly progress, No Child Left Behind mandates that remediation through summer school and/or tutoring be made available to a student in need of extra help.

During high school, students (usually in 11th grade) may take one or more standardized tests depending on their postsecondary education preferences and their local graduation requirements. In theory, these tests evaluate the overall level of knowledge and learning aptitude of the students. The SAT and ACT are the most common standardized tests that students take when applying to college. A student may take the SAT, ACT, or both depending upon the post-secondary institutions the student plans to apply to for admission. Most competitive schools also require two or three SAT Subject Tests, (formerly known as SAT IIs), which are shorter exams that focus strictly on a particular subject matter. However, all these tests serve little to no purpose for students who do not move on to post-secondary education, so they can usually be skipped without affecting one's ability to graduate.

A major characteristic of American schools is the high priority given to sports, clubs and activities by the community, the parents, the schools and the students themselves. Extracurricular activities are educational activities not falling within the scope of the regular curriculum but under the supervision of the school. These activities can extend to large amounts of time outside the normal school day; home-schooled students, however, are not normally allowed to participate. Student participation in sports programs, drill teams, bands, and spirit groups can amount to hours of practices and performances. Most states have organizations which develop rules for competition between groups. These organizations are usually forced to implement time limits on hours practiced as a prerequisite for participation. Many schools also have non-varsity sports teams, however these are usually afforded less resources and attention. The idea of having sports teams associated with high schools is relatively unique to the United States in comparison with other countries.

Sports programs and their related games, especially football and/or basketball, are major events for American students and for larger schools can be a major source of funds for school districts. Schools may sell "spirit" shirts to wear to games; school stadiums and gymnasiums are often filled to capacity, even for non-sporting competitions.

High school athletic competitions often generate intense interest in the community. Inner city schools serving poor students are heavily scouted by college and even professional coaches, with national attention given to which colleges outstanding high school students choose to attend. State high school championship tournaments football and basketball attract high levels of public interest.

In addition to sports, numerous non-athletic extracurricular activities are available in American schools, both public and private. Activities include musical groups, marching bands, student government, school newspapers, science fairs, debate teams, and clubs focused on an academic area (such as the Spanish Club) or cultural interests (such as Key Club).

In the United States, education for students with special needs is structured to adhere as closely as possible to the same experience received by typically developing peers. This concept was developed with the passing of IDEA (see below). This law directed states to develop opportunities for children with special needs to be educated within the public education system.

Students with special needs must have the opportunity to be with typically developing peers in the mainstream school. For example: recess, cafeteria, assemblies, hallways, regular classes, etc. This process is known as mainstreaming. Special education (educational programs required to assist special needs students) must be provided for these students in order for mainstreaming to be possible. Students with special needs attend special schools only if their need for very specialized services makes mainstreaming impossible. The level of mainstreaming that is provided varies greatly within different school districts. For example, larger school districts are often able to provide more adequate and quality care for those with special needs rather than smaller school districts.

Students with special needs are required to attend the same amount of time as typically developing peers. Students receiving special education services are entitled by law to an annual review of yearly progress as well as an evaluation every three years to determine the needs for continued services. Parents who have specific desires for their child's education must act as advocates to assure their child's best interests are being met.

IDEA is a federal law that requires states to ensure that all school districts provide services to meet the individual needs of students with special needs. Students must be placed in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). This means that school districts must meet with the parents to develop an Individualized Education Program that determines best placement for their child. School districts that fail to provide an appropriate placement for students with special needs can be taken to due process wherein parents may legally and formally submit their grievances and demand appropriate services for their child. All special needs students are entitled to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).

The federal government supports the standards developed in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004. The law mandates that schools must accommodate students with special needs as defined by the act, and specifies methods for funding the (sometimes large) costs of providing them with the necessary facilities.

At-risk students (those with educational needs that aren't associated with a disability) are often placed in classes with students with minor disabilities. Critics assert that placing at-risk students in the same classes as disabled students may impede the educational progress of both the at-risk and the disabled students.

Unlike most other industrialized countries, the United States does not have a centralized educational system on the national scale. Thus, K-12 students in most areas have a choice between free tax-funded public schools, or privately-funded private schools.

Public school systems are supported by a combination of local, state, and federal government funding. Because a large portion of school revenues come from local property taxes, public schools vary widely in the resources they have available per student. Class size also varies significantly from one district to another. Generally, schools in more affluent areas are more highly regarded; it is this fact that is often blamed for what some perceive as lack of social mobility in the U.S. Curriculum decisions in public schools are made largely at the local and state levels; the federal government has limited influence. In most districts, a locally elected school board runs schools. The school board appoints an official called the superintendent of schools to manage the schools in the district. The largest public school system in the United States is in New York City, where more than one million students are taught in 1,200 separate public schools. Because of its immense size - there are more students in the system than residents in eight US states - the New York City public school system is nationally influential in determining standards and materials, such as textbooks.

All public school systems are required to provide an education free of charge to everyone of school age in their districts. Admission to individual public schools is usually based on residency. To compensate for differences in school quality based on geography, school systems serving large cities and portions of large cities often have "magnet schools" that provide enrollment to a specified number of non-resident students in addition to serving all resident students. This special enrollment is usually decided by lottery with equal numbers of males and females chosen. Some magnet schools cater to gifted students or to students with special interests, such as the sciences or performing arts. Admission to some of these schools is highly competitive and based on an application process.

Private schools in the United States include parochial schools (affiliated with religious denominations), non-profit independent schools, and for-profit private schools. Private schools charge varying rates depending on geographic location, the school's expenses, and the availability of funding from sources, other than tuition. For example, some churches partially subsidize private schools for their members. Some people have argued that when their child attends a private school, they should be able to take the funds that the public school no longer needs and apply that money towards private school tuition in the form of vouchers; this is the basis of the school choice movement.

Private schools have various missions: most of them take sports very seriously and recruit athletes heavily, some cater to college-bound students seeking a competitive edge in the college admissions process; others are for gifted students, students with learning disabilities or other special needs, or students with specific religious affiliations. Some cater to families seeking a small school, with a nurturing, supportive environment. Unlike public school systems, private schools have no legal obligation to accept any interested student. Admission to some private schools is highly selective. Private schools also have the ability to permanently expel persistently unruly students, a disciplinary option not always legally available to public school systems. Private schools offer the advantages of smaller classes, under twenty students in a typical elementary classroom, for example; a higher teacher/student ratio across the school day, greater individualized attention and in the more competitive schools, expert college placement services. Unless specifically designed to do so, private schools usually cannot offer the services required by students with serious or multiple learning, emotional, or behavioral issues. Although reputed to pay lower salaries than public school systems, private schools often attract teachers by offering high-quality professional development opportunities, including tuition grants for advanced degrees. According to elite private schools themselves, this investment in faculty development helps maintain the high quality program that they offer. Some examples of successful private schools are Deerfield Academy, Phillips Academy Andover and St. Paul's School.

An August 17, 2000 article by the Chicago Sun-Times refers to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago Office of Catholic Schools as the largest private school system in the United States .

Post-secondary education in the United States is known as college or university and commonly consists of four years of study at an institution of higher learning. Like high school, the four undergraduate grades are commonly called freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior years (alternately called first year, second year, etc.). Students traditionally apply to receive admission into college, with varying difficulties of entrance. Schools differ in their competitiveness and reputation; generally, the most prestigious schools are private, rather than public. Admissions criteria involve the rigor and grades earned in high school courses taken, the students' GPA, class ranking, and standardized test scores (Such as the SAT or the ACT tests). Most colleges also consider more subjective factors such as a commitment to extracurricular activities, a personal essay, and an interview. While numerical factors rarely ever are absolute required values, each college usually has a rough threshold below which admission is unlikely.

Unlike in the British model, professional degrees such as law, medicine, pharmacy, and dentistry, are not offered at the undergraduate level and are completed as graduate study after earning at least three years of undergraduate schooling or after earning a bachelor's degree depending on the program. These professional fields do not require a specific undergraduate major, though medicine, pharmacy, and dentistry have set prerequisite courses that must be taken before enrollment.

Some students choose to attend a community college for two years prior to further study at another college or university. In most states, community colleges are operated either by a division of the state university or by local special districts subject to guidance from a state agency. Community colleges may award Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) degree after two years. Those seeking to continue their education may transfer to a four-year college or university (after applying through a similar admissions process as those applying directly to the four-year institution, see articulation). Some community colleges have automatic enrollment agreements with a local four-year college, where the community college provides the first two years of study and the university provides the remaining years of study, sometimes all on one campus. The community college awards the associate's degree, and the university awards the bachelor's and master's degrees.

Graduate study, conducted after obtaining an initial degree and sometimes after several years of professional work, leads to a more advanced degree such as a master's degree, which could be a Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS), Master of Business Administration (MBA), or other less common master's degrees such as Master of Education (MEd), and Master of Fine Arts (MFA). After additional years of study and sometimes in conjunction with the completion of a master's degree, students may earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or other doctoral degree, such as Doctor of Arts, Doctor of Education, Doctor of Theology, Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Pharmacy, Doctor of Physical Therapy, or Doctor of Jurisprudence. Some programs, such as medicine, have formal apprenticeship procedures post-graduation like residency and internship which must be completed after graduation and before one is considered to be fully trained. Other professional programs like law and business have no formal apprenticeship requirements after graduation (although law school graduates must take the bar exam in order to legally practice law in nearly all states).

Entrance into graduate programs usually depends upon a student's undergraduate academic performance or professional experience as well as their score on a standardized entrance exam like the Graduate Record Examination (GRE-graduate schools in general), the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), or the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). Many graduate and law schools do not require experience after earning a bachelor's degree to enter their programs; however, business school candidates are usually required to gain a few years of professional work experience before applying. Only 8.9 percent of students ever receive postgraduate degrees, and most, after obtaining their bachelor's degree, proceed directly into the workforce.

The vast majority of students (up to 70 percent) lack the financial resources to pay tuition up front and must rely on student loans and scholarships from their university, the federal government, or a private lender. All but a few charity institutions charge all students tuition, although scholarships (both merit-based and need-based) are widely available. Generally, private universities charge much higher tuition than their public counterparts, which rely on state funds to make up the difference. Because each state supports its own university system with state taxes, most public universities charge much higher rates for out-of-state students.

Annual undergraduate tuition varies widely from state to state, and many additional fees apply. A typical year's tuition at a public university (for residents of the state) is about $5,000. Tuition for public school students from outside the state is generally comparable to private school prices, although students can generally get state residency after their first year. Private schools are typically much higher, although prices vary widely from "no-frills" private schools to highly specialized technical institutes. Depending upon the type of school and program, annual graduate program tuition can vary from $15,000 to as high as $40,000. Note that these prices do not include living expenses (rent, room/board, etc.) or additional fees that schools add on such as "activities fees" or health insurance. These fees, especially room and board, can range from $6,000 to $12,000 per academic year (assuming a single student without children).

College costs are rising at the same time that state appropriations for aid are shrinking. This has led to debate over funding at both the state and local levels. From 2002 to 2004 alone, tuition rates at public schools increased by just over 14 percent, largely due to dwindling state funding. A more moderate increase of 6 percent occurred over the same period for private schools. Between 1982 and 2007, college tuition and fees rose three times as fast as median family income, in constant dollars.

To combat costs colleges have hired adjunct professors to teach. In 2008 these teachers cost about $1,800 per 3-credit class as opposed to $8,000 per class for a tenured professor. Two-thirds of college instructors were adjuncts. There are differences of opinion whether these adjuncts teach better or worse than regular professors. There is a suspicion that student evaluation of adjuncts along with their subsequent continued employment, can lead to grade inflation.

American college and university faculty, staff, alumni, students, and applicants monitor rankings produced by magazines such as U.S. News and World Report, Academic Ranking of World Universities, test preparation services such as The Princeton Review or another university itself such as the Top American Research Universities by the University of Florida's TheCenter. These rankings are based on factors like brand recognition, selectivity in admissions, generosity of alumni donors, and volume of faculty research. Fifty-five US universities are listed in the top 200 in the world in the THES - QS World University Rankings. A small percentage of students who apply to these schools gain admission.

Many Americans would also recognize the "top tier" to include the so-called "Little Ivies"; a handful of liberal arts colleges known for their high-quality instruction and academic rigor.

Certain public universities (sometimes referred to as "Public Ivies") are also recognized for their outstanding record in scholarship. Some of these institutions currently place among the elite in certain measurements of graduate education and research, especially among engineering and medical schools.

Each state in the United States maintains its own public university system, which is always non-profit. The State University of New York and the California State University are the largest public higher education systems in the United States; SUNY is the largest system that includes community colleges, while CSU is the largest without. Most areas also have private institutions which may be for-profit or non-profit. Unlike many other nations, there are no public universities at the national level outside of the military service academies.

Aside from these aforementioned schools, academic reputations vary widely among the 'middle-tier' of American schools, (and even among academic departments within each of these schools.) Most public and private institutions fall into this 'middle' range. Some institutions feature honors colleges or other rigorous programs that challenge academically exceptional students, who might otherwise attend a 'top-tier' college. Aware of the status attached to the perception of the college that they attend, students often apply to a range of schools. Some apply to a relatively prestigious school with a low acceptance rate, gambling on the chance of acceptance, and also apply to a "safety school," to which they will (almost) certainly gain admission.

Lower status institutions include community colleges. These are primarily two-year public institutions, which individual states usually require to accept all local residents who seek admission, and offer associate's degrees or vocational certificate programs. Many community colleges have relationships with four-year state universities and colleges or even private universities which enable their students to transfer relatively smoothly to these universities for a four-year degree after completing a two-year program at the community college.

Major educational issues in the United States center on curriculum, funding, and control. Of critical importance, because of its enormous implications on education and funding, is the No Child Left Behind Act.

Curricula in the United States vary widely from district to district. Not only do schools offer a range of topics and quality, but private schools may include religious classes as mandatory for attendance (raising the question of government funding vouchers; see below). This has produced camps of argument over the standardization of curricula and to what degree. Some feel that schools should be nationalized and curricula changed to a national standard. These same groups often are advocates of standardized testing, which is mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act. Aside from who controls curricula, groups argue over the teaching of the English language, evolution, and sex education.

A large issue facing curricula today is the use of the English language in teaching. English is spoken by over 95% of the nation, and there is a strong national tradition of upholding English as the de facto official language. Some 9.7 million children aged 5 to 17 primarily speak a language other than English at home. Of those, about 1.3 million children speak English "not well" or "not at all." While a few, mostly Hispanic, groups want bilingual education, the majority of school districts are attempting to use English as a Second Language (ESL) course to teach Spanish-speaking students English. In addition, many feel there are threats to the "integrity" of the language itself. For example, there has been discussion about whether to classify as a "second language" the dialect called African American Vernacular English (known colloquially as Ebonics, a portmanteau of "ebony" and "phonics"). While it is not taught in any American schools, debate continues over its place in education.

In 1999 the School Board of the state of Kansas caused controversy when it decided to eliminate testing of evolution in its state assessment tests. This caused outrage among scientists and average citizens alike, and intense media coverage and the national spotlight persuaded the board to eventually overturn the decision. As of 2005, such controversies have not abated. Not surprisingly, scientists stress the importance of evolution in the curriculum and most do not support the teaching of intelligent design or creationism in public school biology courses, as they are not scientifically testable or supported by scientific evidence. Many fundamentalist religious and "family values" groups, on the other hand, claim that evolution is simply a religion, and as such creationist ideas should therefore be taught alongside it as an "alternative viewpoint". While a majority of United States citizens approve of teaching evolution, many also support teaching intelligent design and/or creationism in public schools. However, support for evolution was also found to be greater among the better educated.

Today, sex education ("sex ed") in the United States is highly controversial. Many schools attempt to avoid the study as much as possible, confining it to a unit in health classes. There are few specifically sex education classes in existence. Also, because former President Bush called for abstinence-only sex education and had the power to withhold funding, many schools backed away from instructing students in the use of birth control or contraceptives.

There is constant debate over which subjects should receive the most focus, with astronomy and geography among those cited as not being taught enough in schools.

According to a 2005 report from the OECD, the United States is tied for first place with Switzerland when it comes to annual spending per student on its public schools, with each of those two countries spending more than $11,000 (in U.S. currency). Despite this high level of funding, according to the OECD, U.S. public schools lag behind the schools of other developed countries in the areas of reading, math, and science.

According to a 2007 article in The Washington Post, the Washington D.C. public school district spends $12,979 per student per year. This is the third highest level of funding per student out of the 100 biggest school districts in the U.S. Despite this high level of funding, the school district has produced outcomes that are lower than the national average. In reading and math, the district's students score the lowest among 11 major school districts - even when poor children are compared only with other poor children. 33% of poor fourth graders in the U.S. lack basic skills in math, but in Washington D.C., it's 62%. In 2004, the U.S. Congress set up a voucher program for low income minority students in Washington D.C. to attend private schools. Even though the vouchers were only $7,500 per student per year, the parents said their children were receiving a much better education from the private schools. In 2007, Washington D.C. non-voting delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said she wanted the voucher program to be eliminated, and that the public schools needed more money.

According to a 2006 study by the Goldwater Institute, Arizona's public schools spend 50% more per student than Arizona's private schools. The study also says that while teachers constitute 72% of the employees at private schools, they make up less than half of the staff at public schools. According to the study, if Arizona's public schools wanted to be like private schools, they would have to hire approximately 25,000 more teachers, and eliminate 21,210 administration employees.

During the 2006-2007 school year, a private school in Chicago which was founded by Marva Collins to teach low income minority students charged $5,500 for tuition, and parents said that the school did a much better job than the Chicago public school system. Meanwhile, during the 2007-2008 year, Chicago public school officials claimed that their budget of $11,300 per student was not enough.

In 1985 in Kansas City, Missouri, a judge ordered the school district to raise taxes and spend more money on public education. Spending was increased so much, that the school district was spending more money per student than any of the country's other 280 largest school districts. Although this very high level of spending continued for more than a decade, there was no improvement in the school district's academic performance.

Public school defenders answer that both of these examples are misleading, as the task of educating students is easier in private schools, which can expel refuse to accept students who lag behind their peers in academic achievement or behavior while public schools have no such recourse and must continue to attempt to educate these students. For this reason, comparisons of the cost of education in public schools to that of private schools is misleading; private school education can be accomplished with less funding because in most cases they only educate those students who are easiest to teach.

Other commentators have suggested that the public school system has exhibited signs of success. SAT scores have risen consistently over the past decades, despite the fact that the pool of students taking the test has increased from an academic elite to a much more representative sampling of the population. Commentators have suggested that this increase in scores, coming as it does at a time when more students have started to take the test and the public schooling system has faced ever-increasing challenge, suggests that the US educational system is much more effective than is commonly believed, and that the negative cast common in public perception is due to negative propaganda disseminated by elements with a personal interest in discrediting or weakening public education.

Funding for schools in the United States is complex. One current controversy stems much from the No Child Left Behind Act. The Act gives the Department of Education the right to withhold funding if it believes a school, district, or even a state is not complying and is making no effort to comply. However, federal funding accounts for little of the overall funding schools receive. The vast majority comes from the state government and in some cases from local property taxes. Various groups, many of whom are teachers, constantly push for more funding. They point to many different situations, such as the fact that in many schools funding for classroom supplies is so inadequate that teachers, especially those at the elementary level, must supplement their supplies with purchases of their own.

Property taxes as a primary source of funding for public education have become highly controversial, for a number of reasons. First, if a state's population and land values escalate rapidly, many longtime residents may find themselves paying property taxes much higher than anticipated. In response to this phenomenon, California's citizens passed Proposition 13 in 1978, which severely restricted the ability of the Legislature to expand the state's educational system to keep up with growth. Some states, such as Michigan, have investigated or implemented alternate schemes for funding education that may sidestep the problems of funding based mainly on property taxes by providing funding based on sales or income tax. These schemes also have failings, negatively impacting funding in a slow economy.

Another issue is that many parents of private school and homeschooled children have taken issue with the idea of paying for an education their children are not receiving. However, tax proponents point out that every person pays property taxes for public education, not just parents of school-age children. Indeed, without it schools would not have enough money to remain open. Still, parents of students who go to private schools want to use this money instead to fund their children's private education. This is the foundation of the school voucher movement. School voucher programs were proposed by free-market advocates seeking competition in education, led by economist Milton Friedman.

One of the biggest debates in funding public schools is funding by local taxes or state taxes. The federal government supplies around 8.5% of the public school system funds, according to a 2005 report by the National Center for Education Statistics. The remaining split between state and local governments averages 48.7 percent from states and 42.8 percent from local sources. However, the division varies widely. In Hawaii local funds make up only 1.7 percent, while state sources account for nearly 90.1 percent.

At the college and university level, funding becomes an issue due to the sheer complexity of gaining it. Some of the reason for the confusion at the college/university level in the United States is that student loan funding is not split in half; half is managed by the Department of Education directly, called the Federal Direct Student Loan Program (FDSLP). The other half is managed by commercial entities such as banks, credit unions, and financial services firms such as Sallie Mae, under the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP). Some schools accept only FFELP loans; others accept only FDSLP. Still others accept both, and a few schools will not accept either, in which case students must seek out private alternatives for student loans.

The charter-school movement was born in 1990. Charter schools have spread rapidly in the United States, members, parents, teachers, and students" to allow for the "expression of diverse teaching philosophies and cultural and social life styles." A scholar has argued that charter schools have produced mixed results. He claims that 2005 studies confirmed that charter-school students do not out-perform their public-school counterparts. He concluded that federal intervention in public and private education has only increased since the 1990s. The federal government's involvement culminated in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which extends federal oversight of state schools and grants parents the choice of removing their children from persistently failing schools.

There is some debate about where control for education actually lies. Education is not mentioned in the constitution of the United States. In the current situation, the state and national governments have a power-sharing arrangement, with the states exercising most of the control. Like other arrangements between the two, the federal government uses the threat of decreased funding to enforce laws pertaining to education. Furthermore, within each state there are different types of control. Some states have a statewide school system, while others delegate power to county, city or township-level school boards. However, under the Bush administration, initiatives such as the No Child Left Behind Act have attempted to assert more central control in a heavily decentralized system.

The U.S. federal government exercises its control through the U.S. Department of Education. Educational accreditation decisions are made by voluntary regional associations. Schools in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands, teach in English, while schools in the commonwealth of Puerto Rico teach in Spanish. Nonprofit private schools are widespread, are largely independent of the government, and include secular as well as parochial schools.

The national results in international comparisons have often been far below the average of developed countries. In OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment 2003, 15 year olds ranked 24th of 38 in mathematics, 19th of 38 in science, 12th of 38 in reading, and 26th of 38 in problem solving. In the 2006 assessment, the U.S. ranked 35th out of 57 in mathematics and 29th out of 57 in science. Reading scores could not be reported due to printing errors in the instructions of the U.S. test booklets. U.S. scores were far behind those of most other developed nations. . Bill Gates believes that the American high school is "obsolete".

The Washington Post said in a 2009 article that teachers believe in "doing their own thing" and not in improving their methods when new techniques are proven superior; they are taught in teacher's colleges that teaching is an "art" and is therefore not subject to some standardization.

The rise of the high school movement in the beginning of the 20th century was unique in the United States, such that, high schools were implemented with virtues like: property-tax funded tuition, openness, non-exclusivity, and were decentralized. For the countries of Europe the educational system in the middle of the 20th century still lacked many of these virtues, and were more apprentice-type and very exclusive. It was not until after WWII that Europe and other industrialized nations began to follow the United States' efforts. Now the educational attainment of the US population is similar to that of many other industrialized countries with the vast majority of the population having completed secondary education and a rising number of college graduates that outnumber high school dropouts. As a whole the population of the United States is becoming increasingly more educated. Post-secondary education is valued very highly by American society and is one of the main determinants of class and status. As with income, however, there are significant discrepancies in terms of race, age, household configuration and geography. Overall the households and demographics featuring the highest educational attainment in the United States are also among those with the highest household income and wealth. Thus, while the population of the US is becoming increasingly educated on all levels, a direct link between income and educational attainment remains.

In 2007, Americans stood second only to Canada in the percentage of 35 to 64 year olds holding at least two-year degrees. Among 25 to 34 year olds, the country stands tenth. The nation stands 15 out of 29 rated nations for college completion rates, slightly above Mexico and Turkey.

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Source : Wikipedia