General Question

Melonking's avatar

How do school systems work in places like the US?

Asked by Melonking (1221points) June 30th, 2010

Where I live in Ireland we have:

Pre School: basically a day care

Primary School: ages 5–12 this lasts 8 years with 2 infant years at the start

Secondary School: ages 12–18 this lasts 6years

And then you have third level education.

But how does this differ from the seemingly overly complex US system? And in places such as Japan with systems that sound the same as the US one are they the same?

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18 Answers

josie's avatar

Whatever the similarities or differences, it does not work in the US. School systems in the US, public or private, have less to do with intellectual development, and more to do with social “progress” whatever that is. We got this bullshit from John Dewey. You are lucky he did not live in Ireland.

DominicX's avatar

In general, it works like this:

Kindergarten – ages 5–6
Elementary – Grades 1–5 – ages 6–11
Middle – Grades 6–8 – ages 11–14
High – Grades 9–12 – ages 14–18

This is what most people do; this is what I did and then I’m taking four years of college (university).

Melonking's avatar

What do you mean by Grades?

DominicX's avatar

A “grade” is just a level in the system. Each grade takes one year to complete, usually lasting from August/September to June. You can, of course, fail a grade and have to do it over again.

Melonking's avatar

Ah I see, so basically a school year.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Kindergarten is for 5–6 year olds and then it’s 1st grade, 2nd grade, etc, to 12th grade. We have pre-school as well for 3–4 year olds whose parents want that.

First form is about equivalent to 7th grade in the US (age 12), and most kids stay in secondary school past age 16 for one more year. We don’t have a division between kids who want to leave school after 16 and kids who want to go on to university. If you’re in, you’re in until you’re ~18, and then you graduate and go on to tertiary education, or you go to work.

Jeruba's avatar

Yes, @Melonking, except that a school year is a period of time, and a grade is your level of achievement. You should normally advance one grade in one school year; but the grade is how far you’ve gone academically, regardless of how long it took you.

JLeslie's avatar

@Melonking To follow up on what @DominicX said we have pre-school (not required) Kindergarten, and then 1st grade, all the way up through 12th grade, so yes a grade is a school year. To get your high school diploma you must finish through 12th grade, although there are ways to finish early, it is really based on acheiving the credits and requirements necessary for the diploma more than the 4 years of high school, but most people graduate after completing grade 12 around the age of 18. If a person does not get a high school diploma they are considered “drop-outs.” However, we do offer high school equivalencies called a GED.

@josie I wish people would not be so negative about our school system. I know it can be improved, but for the most part the problems are not the schools in my opinion.

JLeslie's avatar

Also, to add a little more. Public schools are secular. Not sure if Ireland is like Scotland, where from what I understand the public schools can be religious schools? Our religious schools are separate and private; but, those schools follow the same “grade” system as public schools. Some peopl home school there children, and it varies by state what requirements they must meet. School is mandatory for children through the age of 16 in the US. Or, at least I believe that is what the law is, it might vary by state.

lilikoi's avatar

When I was in school, “elementary” was K-6 and “middle”/“intermediate” was 7 and 8th grades. There was a trend in the country to move 6th grade into the middle schools and out of elementary schools since then, which is what is currently done.

To add to what has already been said, some schools are on a newish ‘year-round’ schedule where breaks are relatively short and school is basically in session all year round while others are still on the older more traditional schedule where ‘summer break’ is about 2 or 3 months long during the summer. This system originally was adopted to allow kids to work on farms during the prime time of year. Another term for elementary school is “primary”, with “high school” being equivalent to “secondary”, and anything after that “post-secondary”. After high school, one can choose to enter the job force, attend a trade/vocational school, attend 2-year colleges, technical or art schools, or 4-year universities. I believe schooling up to high school is compulsory and free in the government-funded, public system; there are private schools as well that charge tuition. There are public and private universities – not free, but govt loans, scholarships, and grants are available. Full scholarships are available as well.

I was told many years ago by someone from Japan that they decide much earlier on in life (compared to U.S.) whether they want to go vocational / university, and follow different tracks from that point on. It sounds quite a bit different than what we do in the U.S.

lilikoi's avatar

In the U.S. it is also rare but possible to skip grades and be “home-schooled”, that is, schooled at home by parents or other mentors and not attend any institution.

Melonking's avatar

@JLeslie Almost all public schools here are religious, though no one really cares about that.

JLeslie's avatar

To add onto what @lilikoi said about when what track is decided, whether it be vocational, university, etc., I think the US is probably one of the most liberal countries I know of when it comes to this. There is an emphasis on children being allowed to try very different subjects, choose elective classes in high school outside of compulsory subjects like English and Math. Even the sciences children many times can choose which sciences in the higher grades they choose to pursue. There are Magnet and Charter High schools that are part of the public system that many times have an emphasis on a particular interest. Students need to apply to these for entry. For instance my aunt went to Music and Art High school in NYC, and my Uncle went to a science high school, he wound up being a doctor, but he could have completely changed cours after High school if he had wanted to. My neice and nephew went to an international magnet school for elementary (grades K-5) where there was an emphasis on learning multiple languages, and they were utilizing some of the teaching methods from some European countries (can’t remember which countries they modeled it after).

About the public schools being religious, I find that so very odd. How do you accomodate everyone? Is your population becoming more diverse like other parts of Europe?

plethora's avatar

@josie Agreed!!!

@JLeslie Agreed also that the problem is not all in the schools, but to a huge degree it is, along with the few idiot parents who work the system….according to the teachers I know who have been teaching for decades.

JLeslie's avatar

@plethora @josie What is it specifically that you don’t like about our system. If you are citing Dewey, I would guess you are not referring to how out schools have not kept up in the last 30 years. You are going back to the beginning of the public school system in America practically. I am assuming you both want religion in school, but I will let you answer my question before I make any assumptions.

YARNLADY's avatar

If you mean public schools, paid by taxpayers, and free to students, that would be known as K – 12, ages 5 – 18. They are roughly divided by age groups as stated by @DominicX above.

There are also public classes for some children below the age of 5, called Head Start, which is only available to children that are labeled underprivileged. Most pre-schools are fee based, and the parents have to pay for them.

There are public (taxpayer funded) classes for students over the age of 18 who aren’t able to compete their graduation requirements, sometimes called Continuation School. It can be confusing, because Continuation School also provides classes for students who have been expelled from the regular schools for mis-behavior.

As if that isn’t enough, there are many levels of private, fee based, schools. Usually the parents of the students pay the tuition for these schools. They range from special interest school, like Montessori and Waldorf schools to Military Academies and parochial schools like those sponsored by the Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim religions, to the various homeschools, which are run like independent private schools by the parents.

cazzie's avatar

They say ‘Grades’ instead of ‘Forms’ But don’t get confused.. Grade 6 is not the same as 6th Form. They don’t start over, the ‘Forms’ or Grades are just numbered 1–12. After Grade 12, you ‘graduate high school’. They take a University Entrance Exam and it’s usually called an SAT or ACT test. Different areas have different set ups for ‘Middle School’. But basically, kindergarden through 5th grade is considered ‘Elementary School’, 6–8 is Middle school and 9–12 is considered High School. Your performance is reported quarterly, and exams are two yearly. If you get a majority of passes, you go to the next Grade, but in High School, if you don’t pass a class, you may be required to take it again, but you will have technically passed into the next Grade.

I’m not sure how Ireland works it’s system, I’m sort of comparing to what I know from the older, English style system.

cazzie's avatar

——added note to above——I also don’t know why I keep writing it’s when I mean its…. it’s my common typo… I DO know the difference… I’m usually multitasking when I’m in here…..

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