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Education in the USA (освіта в США)
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Education in the USA is a primary responsibility of each of the 50 states. There are no National Educational Standards or regulations, as there are in many other countries. Each state has its own laws for the educational system, which is controlled by the Board of Education. Although there is a federal Department of Education, its function is to gather the information, to advise and to help finance certain educational programs. In spite of local control, school systems throughout the country are very similar. A child can transfer from a school in one state to a school in another without any serious difficulties, as the same basic subjects are taught throughout the country.
Education is compulsory for every child in the USA. There are two major divisions in the elementary and secondary school system in the USA - public schools, where education is free of charge and private schools where the cost of education is rather high. Some of those schools are religious and they are maintained by churches.
The normal school system consists of 6 years of elementary school and 6 years of high school. The school children are called "students", not pupils. In elementary school students learn the ABCs of reading and writing, drawing, painting and singing. Many of them teach modern languages such as French, Spanish, German and now Russian. Mathematics, English composition and Grammar, General Science and Literature, Music, PT, Home Economics are learned by elementary school students.
There are two kinds of secondary or high schools in the USA: Junior High Schools are for children from 12 to 15 years old; Senior High Schools are for students of 15 to 18 years old. Many Americans finish only Junior High Schools, because they begin working to help their families. The certificate of the Junior High does not allow them to enter college or University.
In American High Schools there are two kinds of school subjects, subjects which are compulsory for all students. These subjects are: English, Literature, PT, Social Science.
But there are also elective subjects, among them are Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, foreign languages, History and many others. Besides, boys and girls in the same class usually learn different subjects.
The testing system in American schools differs from that in Russia. Oral tests are very rare. American students write quizzes, tests, dictations and compositions.
In primary schools they have letter grades: A, B, C, D, E which correspond to the following grade points values in junior and high schools: 95% -100% - A, 87 %-94% - B, 75% - 86% -C, 65% -74% -D, 59% -64% -E. The highest grade is A or 95% -100%. A passing grade is 75%. In high schools students get credits for the subjects they choose if they fulfill minimum requirements.
Higher Education is given in colleges and universities. There are about 3000 institutions of Higher Education in the USA. Some of them are public, others are private. A public institution is owned by the government. Tuition and living costs here might be about 1000 dollars a year. The private ones are only for the select few, who can afford to pay high tuition fees. The most common college degree is a Bachelor of arts. This degree requires four years of study. After another year or two of research, they may get a degree of Master and then Doctor of Philosophy. The most well known universities are Harvard, Columbia, Michigan and New York.
Standardized examinations play a decisive role at almost every level of education, especially in the admission to colleges and universities.
For high school students who wish to attend a college or a university there are two widely used tests. One is the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) which measures aptitudes in verbal and mathematical fields necessary for college work. The other is the ACT (American College Testing program) which measures skills in English, mathematics, and the social and natural sciences. Both tests are given at special dates and locations throughout the US by non-profit, nongovernmental organizations. The tests are not "official" and are used by universities as standards for comparison. The results of these tests indicate the "quality or level of ability expected of those who apply. Similar testing programs exist at any higher levels as well.
Other examinations however, are official and usually quite difficult. Most universities require mid-semester and final (end-of-semester) examinations. And most students who have scholarship must maintain a certain grade average to keep then-scholarships. Americans have won 146 Nobel Prizes in sciences, physics, chemistry, and physiology or medicine- since the awards were first given in 1901. They represent 38.5 percent of all recipients. The next closest is Great Britain, with 63 Nobel Prizes. If the US is still distant from the aim of educating everyone well, it has at least done a good job with many.
There are no national or even state-wide dates for school vacations. Each school district sets its own. Generally, "schools out" from around the first week in June until the last week in August. However, many school districts sponsor "summer school" for children who have fallen behind and wish to make up work, or for pupils who want to take extra courses. Most universities and colleges also have summer semester.
There are summer camps for a week or two, they are scattered throughout the country and offer a wide range of activities. Some of the camps are owned and operated by the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, or various churches, private individuals and groups. Others are sponsored by the Red Cross and might teach swimming, boating, and life-saving. There are also groups, which organize low-cost or free summer programs, from sports and crafts to concerts and dances, for children, who spend the summer in the city. But not all American high school and college students can afford summer vacation most of them must work to earn their living. But of course, this is not what they would rather do.
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