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The American Educational System

School education. In the USA there are two types of schools — public schools, which are supported by the state and where schooling is free of charge, and private schools, where the families have to pay special attendance fees. These schools are usually controlled by different churches or religious groups. About 85 % of American schoolchildren attend public schools, and 15% private schools.

Each of the 50 states in the United States has its own laws regu­lating education. (1) ...

American children pass through two main stages of school education on their way to get a high school diploma. (2) ... The elementary school may include 8 grades in some places, and 6 grades in other. Many Americans call the elementary school a "grammar school". "Secondary school" usually means grades 9—12. These grades are popularly called "high school", and the young people who attend these

schools are called high school students. In many districts secondary education begins with grade 7. In these cases there are "junior high schools" and "senior high schools".

Though there is no national curriculum in the United States certain subjects are taught in all the 12 grades across the country. Almost every elementary school provides instruction in the subjects: mathematics, language, penmanship, science, social studies, music, art and physical education. (3) ...

There are no national examinations. As pupils progress upwards from grade to grade, they are assessed on the basis of performance in tests throughout the year, participation in class discussion, and completion of oral and written assignments. In the United States the usual requirements for high school graduation are about 18 "units" of course work. (4) ... Students who plan to attend college need over 20 units.

High school students are helped by school counsellors in choosing the subjects, which are called "electives", because they are not necessary for everybody. A student chooses the electives which he thinks will be necessary for him for his future work or further education at the university or college. (5) ... Some high schools specialize in one group of subjects, for example, in business, engineering, trade.

Post-school education. In the USA, most post-school education takes place in colleges and universities. Colleges offer a four-year course to students aged between 18 and 22 and award bachelor's degrees in arts and sciences. The first two years (for "freshmen" and "sophomores" respectively) cover a broad range of subjects. Students specialize in a major subject area in their third ("junior") and fourth ("senior") years. (6) ... They are financed by the local authorities and are intended to satisfy the needs of the local community in different professions. Students may also choose technical training institutions where they will learn different technical skills. Many wish to continue their education at university, which are of two types, state and private, most being private.

Having completed high school, students can apply to any college or university they wish. Acceptance depends on high school grades and on their scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SATs). (7) ...

Any of the institutions of post-school education may be either public or private. About 80% of students study at public institutions, because tuition fees here are much lower.

The academic year is usually nine months and is divided into two semesters. Studies usually begin in September and end in July. During one semester a student will study four or five different subjects. Students do not get a degree through a "finals" examination, as they do in British universities, but through the number of "credits" or hours of study they accumulate (about 120). (8) ... Students' work is regularly assessed. At the end of the course, a student's overall record is examined to see if he/she deserves to be awarded a degree.

6. Pronunciation

A. These words contain silent letters. Cross out the letters in the
words which are not pronounced. Listen to the teacher and check
your answers.

Assignment, science, through, though, course, senior, score, group.

B. Circle the word in each line which has a different vowel
sound. Listen to the teacher and check your answers.

1) law support local oral

2) require issue private apply

3) equal attend credit elective

4) subject instruction public include

7. Word Study

A. Find international words in the text and write them out. Learn
their correct pronunciation.

B. Give Russian equivalents to the following word combinations:

to be supported by the state; schooling is free of charge; to attend public schools; the age limits; to provide instruction in the subjects; required "basic" subjects; to progress upwards from grade to grade; to be assessed on the basis of performance in tests; oral and written assignments; to be intended to satisfy the needs of the local community; to apply to a college or university; acceptance depends on high school grades; to accumulate hours of study; to be regularly assessed; to be awarded a degree.

C. Give English equivalents to the word combinations:

плата за обучение; диплом об окончании средней школы; млад­шие/старшие классы средней школы; чистописание; общена­циональные экзамены; окончание средней школы; консультант;

специализироваться по определенным предметам; национальная программа обучения; общее количество баллов; четырехлетний курс подготовки; присвоить степень бакалавра; охватывать широ­кий спектр предметов; отборочный тест / стандартизованный тест, оценивающий способности учащихся.

D. Form nouns out of these verbs. Group the nouns according
to the way they are formed:

attend, assess, assign, graduate, award, accept, score, apply, control, participate, complete, choose, specialize, continue, study, accumulate.

E. Match the words from the article with their definitions.


1) assignment a) a series of lessons or lectures in an
2) grade academic subject or a practical skill
3) course b) 1) one of the levels of school in the
4) social studies US that lasts one year; 2) a letter
5) tuition fee or number that shows the quality of
6) curriculum a student's work
7) score c) a number that represents how well
8) counsellor someone did in a test
9) bachelor's degree d) a first university degree
  e) money that you pay to take lessons,
  especially at a college, university, or
  private school
  f) a subject that includes history, geo-
  graphy citizenship and economics
  g) work that you must do as part of
  a course of study
  h) someone whose job is to give advice
  and help to people with problems
  i) the subjects that students study at
  a particular school or college

8. Grammar Focus

A. Study the following speech patterns.

Having finishedour work, we went home. (Participle I) After finishingour work, we went home. (Gerund)


Having found / After findinga hotel, they looked for somewhere to have dinner. Having done / After doingall her shopping, she went for a cup of coffee.


to equal sth
to be equal to

This is the point where total cost equalstotal revenue. Increased population equalsincreased demand. Their income is equal tothe value of the goods they produce. One unit of alcohol is equal toone small glass of wine.

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