Having grown up in the American education system, I think I have an understanding on how it operates from the student perspective. As an adult, have been working in the education for a decade, so I think that I speak from experience and knowledge when I talk about it. That said, it can be a different concept to understand if you have not lived it and are not incredibly familiar with it.
So this is a barebones guide for people who are outside of the American system to get a look at what it is.
Cost of Education in America
The majority of students in the United States go to public school. Public schools are free, since they are paid for by taxes. The amount that goes to the schools varies completely by where the schools are. Some states and local governments pump more money into the education system than other areas. This usually depends on the economy of the surrounding area. More affluent places will be able to pay for more than less affluent areas, so there is a huge variation between the quality of schools.
It is also because of this that it is harder to attract teachers to teach in low-income areas. The quality of the materials and the school itself is a lot lower if there is not enough money pumped into it. This is why there are education foundations to help out schools. Without some extra financing, many schools would fail under the current system since tax money is constantly being diverted away from education into areas that the government finds more profitable.
The Grading System
The basic grading system of students in the United States is an A, B, C, D, F grading system, where A is the best that you can do. Students that earn the most A’s in school usually have an easier time getting into colleges since they have already shown that they do well and are ready to go to college. C is considered “average” and is a passing grade. Anything below C is failing and is not considered a passed class.
The issue with the grading system is that it can be based greatly on test scores and standardized abilities, which is not appropriate for every type of learner out there. Also a disappointment is that when we look at our success rates for students, the grades are not taken into consideration, but instead it is the graduation rate. This often does not make sense as teachers are assessed based on the students’ abilities to pass tests, but not based on how well the students performed toward graduating from high school.
Who Has to Go
Education is required by law for all school-aged children. Of course if a student has graduated early, this does not apply. But a parent cannot keep a child at home instead of sending them to school. That is unless they are participating in a home school program, but these are also monitored and have standards that have to be met in order to be accepted. Children must go to school. Part of this was originally based on the United States Governments strong desire to have all children and adults be completely literate.
The literacy rate in the United States is pretty darned perfect, so while we need to do better with our quality of education as well as our success rate for students, we have mostly achieved a completely literate society. Unfortunately, this has not kept Americans from watching reality tv shows, but at least we know that they have the ability to pick up a book and read it.