Why isn't America fixing its education system?

The US school system

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  • a high school for everyone
  • School is the center of life
  • lots of interesting courses and clubs
  • High school spirit

As with us here in Germany, education policy in the USA is a matter for the individual states. There is no separate division into grammar school or secondary school and secondary school, but all students attend the local high school. As in Germany, there are public and private schools as well as so-called homeschooling, a possibility of being taught at home by parents or private teachers. The school year is structured in a similar way to ours and extends over two semesters from August to July, which means that the summer vacation is two months long.

The types of schools

Due to the differences in educational policy between the individual US states, there are also different school models that differ mainly in the number of years per school type. In general, students in the USA first attend the elementary school, which is comparable to our primary school. Depending on the model, this time lasts 5 to 8 years. There are then several options: the students switch - either directly or after the intervening middle school - to high school, which is the most common program and where the high school diploma is obtained after four years. Alternatively, there is a division into junior high and senior high, each with 3 years of teaching, or the combined version, the Combined High School, with 6 years of schooling. The same school leaving certificate is obtained here as well.

There are only differences in qualifications between private and public schools: While the high school diploma of the public schools is comparable to the technical college entrance qualification in this country, the qualification from a private school has a higher status, which roughly corresponds to the Abitur. However, both degrees qualify for attending a university or college.

The grading

Here you have to get used to a bit: in the USA, papers and exams are graded with letters instead of numbers. For 90% correctly solved answers there is an A, which corresponds to the usual grade 1 here. Grading is then continued in alphabetical order up to F, i.e. the D corresponds to grade 4, sufficient, and the F means failed. A differentiation with plus or minus is still common in some schools.

The grade level

Your grade depends primarily on your age and your academic achievements. As a rule, guest students are placed in the same grade level as they would attend in their home country during that time. The desire to obtain the high school diploma in the USA and to attend the graduation ceremonies and the graduation and prom, is understandable, but is entirely up to the school in question. If you're not graduating yourself, you don't have to miss the prom: just ask your friends if they'll take you away!

The choice of subjects

  • Car repair
  • Wood processing

In some cases, U.S. Students of different grades also take the same courses. The timetable resulting from the choice of subjects is often the same on every weekday; everyday school life usually lasts from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The range of subjects is quite diverse. Your "Guidance Counselor", i.e. a school advisor in the secretariat, will help you with the selection and with all other questions about your school attendance.

In some schools compulsory subjects are compulsory, other subjects such as English, math and American history are at least recommended. The freely selectable subjects and clubs range from topics such as journalism and nutrition to practical subjects such as car repair, photography, wood processing, psychology and much more. You should definitely take advantage of these opportunities. Here you can broaden your horizons and make excellent contacts with classmates.

For many students, high school is a central point of life and is more than just a place of instruction. Social life takes place in schools, you identify yourself with your high school, name and mascot, and cheer on the school team at sporting events.

Many former students report that it is precisely this special feature of the "high school spirit" during their stay that makes going to school in the USA so much fun and why you quickly settle in and feel good. After a short time, you make social contacts and get to know classmates through joint activities - during and after school. One thing can be said for this special sense of community: it can be experienced much better than explained.