ORGANIZATION AND STRUCTURE OF THE SYSTEM OF EDUCATION IN THE USA



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ORGANIZATION AND STRUCTURE OF THE SYSTEM OF EDUCATION IN THE USA



 

The school year is usually nine months, from early Septem­ber to mid-June. The common pattern of organization, referred to as the 6-3-3 plan, includes elementary school in grades 1 through 6, junior high school in grades 7 through 9 and senior high school in grades 10 through 12. The older 8-4 plan, how­ever, in which grades 1 through 8 were the elementary school and 9 through 12 the high school, continues in many localities. There is also a 6-6 plan, grades 1 through 6 in elementary school and 7 through 12 in the secondary school. Today, uni­fied systems operating both elementary and secondary schools most commonly use the 6-3-3 plan or a 6-2-4 variation. How­ever, many variations on the patterns exist in the United States.

Preschool education:A child's introduction to formal edu­cation is usually in kindergarten classes operated in most pub­lic school systems. Many systems also provide nursery schools. The age group is commonly four and five years. These pre­school education programs maintain a close relationship with the home and parents, and aim to give children useful experi­ences which will prepare them for elementary school. The pro­grams are flexible and are designed to help the child grow in self-reliance, learn to get along with others, and form good work and play habits.

Elementary school:The main purpose of the elementary school is the general intellectual and social development of the child from 6 to 12 or 15 years of age. Curricula vary with the organization and educational aims of individual schools and communities. The more or less traditional program consists of teaching prescribed subject matter. Promotion from one grade to the next is based on the pupil's achievement of specified skills in reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic, history, geogra­phy, music and art.

Secondary school:Most pupils follow a course that in­cludes English, science, social studies, mathematics and physical education. Elective subjects may be chosen in the fields of

 

 

foreign languages, fine arts and vocational training. Pupils usu­ally elect about half their work in grades nine through twelve.

Most young Americans graduate from school with a high school diploma upon satisfactory completion of a specified number of courses. Students are usually graded from A (excel­lent) to F (failing) in each course they take on the basis of per­formance in tests given at intervals throughout the year, partici­pation in class discussions and completion of written and oral assignments. Locally developed end-of-the-year examinations are given in many schools. Some states, such as New York, give statewide examinations which are prepared by the state department of education.

Students receive "report cards" at least twice a year (in some school districts, up to six times) which indicate the grades they have received in each of the subjects they are studying. High schools maintain a school "transcript" which summarizes the courses taken and the grades obtained for each student. A copy of the transcript is normally submitted to col­leges when a student applies for admission.

College-bound students generally take college admission tests during their last two years of high school.

 

1. College and university admission/entrance requirements:

1) application including personal information; 2) high school re­port including class rank, a transcript witn the list of all the courses taken and all grades received in high school with courses failed or repeated, test results,. SAT, Achievement Test and ACT scores and a general assessment of the applicant's character such as academic motivation, creativity, self-discip­line, leadership, self-confidence, warmth of personality, sense of humor, etc.; 3) one or more recommendations by school teach­ers; 4) personal commentary such as major extra-curricular ac­tivities, hobbies, special awards or prizes, work or travel experi­ences, educational and/or career goals and the reasons for the choice of this particular university; 5) personal interview.

2. Administration and organization:

The head of the uni­versity is usually called President, sometimes Chancellor. His principal assistants are Vice-presidents, directors, deans and business managers. Each university consists of a number of units called either College or School. There is always a College of Arts and Sciences and several professional schools, e. g. one

 

unit of a university may be called College of Medicine, where­as another one of the same university may be called Law School, i. e. the units of a university providing professional education may be called either colleges or schools, without any difference in meaning.

 

3. Faculty members: The teaching staff of an Amerian uni­versity is called the faculty. Full-time faculty consists of profes­sors and instructors. The rank of associate professors, assistant professors corresponds to the British rank of readers or senior lecturers.

 

4. Tenure — signifies that a faculty member has become a full and permanent member of the academic body of the uni­versity and provides the faculty member with the right of con­tinued employment without discriminatory reduction in salary unless there be grave reasons for dismissal. Normally tenure is attached to the ranks of Associate Professor and Professor who have demonstrated excellence in teaching, research and ser­vice.

 

5. Career development and job placement — an academic advising service which provides up-to-date information on career areas and individual career counseling and planning. Job placement is not guaranteed in universities of the USA.

 

6. Counselor — a person on a university staff who provides counseling and consultation service to help in decisions re­garding courses, majors, vocational plans, career opportunities and personal matters. Services are free to all students.

 

7. Teacher training: All states require a bachelor's degree for teaching elementary grades. Forty seven states require a bachelor's degree as the minimum preparation for teaching in the secondary schools; three states and the District of Colum­bia require five years or a master's degree. Many public and private colleges and universities are approved and accredited for teacher education. At the undergraduate level, the typical teacher education program is four or five years in length. It comprises a combination of traditional academic subjects and professional courses such as methods of teaching and educa­tional psychology. Practice-teaching for four or six months, ei­ther in the college laboratory school or in a public school sys­tem, is often included. Graduate of liberal arts colleges which

 

 

 

do not have a teacher education program may usually qualify through a fifth year master's degree program.

 

8. Degrees:the Associates' degree — the Associate of Arts (AA.), the Associate of Science (A.S.) — is usually awarded at a community or junior college upon completion of 2 years of study — it represents the same level as completion of the first two years of a four-year college or university and students with A.A. or A.S. may transfer to four-year institutions.

 

The Bachelors degree normally requires 4 years of academic study beyond the high school diploma: the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), the Bachelor of Science (B.S.); the Bachelor of Education (B. Ed.); the Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.), etc.

The Master's degree — programs leading to the degree usu­ally require 1 or 2 years of advanced study in graduate-level courses and seminars. Frequently a thesis is required or a final oral or written examination. (M.A. — the Master of Arts, etc.)

The Doctor's degree — usually the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) equal to the Soviet candidate of Science, Philology, etc.) — the highest academic degree, it requires a minimum of 2 years of course work beyond the Master's degree level, success in a qualifying examination, proficiency in one or two foreign languages and/or in a research tool (such as statistics) and completion of a doctoral dissertation.

 

9. SAT — the Scholastic Aptitude Test(in mathematics and verbal ability) used since 1947: 1600 scores — a good result; 400 scores — poor.

The SAT is taken in the-11th grade of high school. (About 1,5 million students take it yearly.)

Many educators point out that SAT scores are related to family income — the higher the income, the higher the SAT scores and certain minorities have not scored well because of low incomes and bad schools. SAT can be taken two or three times (in the the 11th and 12th grades), generally proceeded by PSAT (preliminary), a test to give students a warm-up exercise for the SAT and indicate their probable SAT scoring range.

ACT — the American College Testing program — is similar to SAT but scores social studies and the natural studies. The ACT is taken when required by certain colleges or universities. (About 200,000 students take this test yearly.)

Both tests are widely used in the admission process of US colleges and universities. Their results are sent to the colleges or universities to which the students have applied. ACT is meant to be taken only once.

Achievement tests — special tests in a discipline required by some colleges for admission.

"TOEFL" stands for the Test of English as a Foreign Lan­guage. This test is used to measure your English language pro­ficiency. If you are applying to a college or university, your TOEFL scores will help the admission staff determine if your

 

 

skills are adequate for enrollment into the program of study you have selected.

 

10. Academic Year is usually nine months duration, or two semesters of four and a half months each. Classes usually begin in September and end in July. There are summer classes for those who want to improve the grades or take up additional courses.

During one term or semester, a student will study, concur­rently, four or five different subjects. The students' progress is often assessed through quizzes (short oral or written tests), term papers and a final examination in each course. Each part of a student's work in a course is given a mark which helps to determine his final grade. A student's record consists of his grade in each course.

College grades, determined by each instructor on the basis of class work and examinations, are usually on a five-point scale, with letters to indicate the levels of achievement. A — is the highest mark, indicating superior accomplishment, and the letters go through B, C, D to E or F which denotes failure. Many schools assign points for each grade (A = 5, B = 4, etc.) so that GPA (grade point average) may be computed. Normal­ly, a minimum grade point average (3.5 points) is required to continue in school and to graduate.

 

11. Student Financial Aid — sums of money for students who need financial aid to attend college.

When a family applies for aid, an analysis is made of the parents’ income; Financial Aid is normally awarded as part of a package: part grant (a grant needn't be repaid, parts of which might come from several sources: federal, state, private scholar­ship, college scholarship); part loan (to be repaid after college); part work (colleges normally expect students on aid to earn some of the money they need by working summers on the camps).

 

12. Students Union. There are several national nongovern­mental associations of students. The largest and most active has been the United States National Student Association, with headquarters in Washington, D.C. (USNSA).

A great deal of the cultural and recreational life at a univer­sity is created and conducted by student groups. They sponsor or participate in concerts, plays, debates, forums and festivals.

 

 

They have various clubs, film societies, jazz groups, news­papers, magazines, radio stations, athletic events. At many uni­versities, the centre of these social and cultural out-of-class activities is the Students Unjpn. Some community colleges or universities maintain major resident facilities, fraternity and sorority houses, and students unions.

There are also a large number of national fraternities and sororities with chapters (branches) at almost 500 colleges and universities. These organizations, Greek letter societies, are descendants of the 18th century library and social dubs which flourished in the early American colleges.

No society has more than one chapter hi any one college. While those societies are secret in character there is seldom any overemphasis of ritual or mystery in their conduct The Greek alphabet is generally used in naming the fraternity, sorority or a chapter. It has become quite the practice for students of a particular fraternity to reside together during then-college course in their "chapter" house. Students who live out­side the colleges or universities live hi cooperatives (cooperative housing associations providing lodgings), rooming houses or apartment complexes.

 

13. How to Write an Essay.The ability to write well-organized, concise essays is essential. The material must be presented hi logical order and clear language. An essay con­sists of a number of paragraphs. Here are some hints on para­graph writing:

1) There are paragraph introducers which are sentences that establish the topic focus of the paragraph as a whole. The topic sentence hi the paragraph contains a key idea. 2) There are paragraph developers which present examples or details of various kinds to support the ideas of the topic sentence. 3) There are sometimes viewpoints or context modulators, which are sentences that provide a smooth transition between different sets of ideas. 4) There are paragraph terminators or restatement sentences, which logically conclude the ideas discussed hi the paragraph.

To be able to write a good essay you must realize that your essay should be relevant to the set topic hi both content and focus; the essay should be the result of wide reading, taking notes, looking things up, sorting out information, theories and ideas, and coming to well-thought-out conclusions...

 

 

An essay consists of a number of paragraphs which may be sorted into functional groups such as introductory, develop­mental, transitional, summarising.

Depending upon the purpose or intent of the writer, par­ticular paragraphs may be thought of as aiming to persuade, inform, argue, or excite. Paragraphs may also be classified according to such techniques of development as comparison, contrast, description, classification, generalisation, etc.

In linking paragraphs together the transitional devices may be the following:

1) the use of a pronoun instead of the above mentioned nouns; 2) repetition of the key word or phrase used in the pre­ceding paragraph; 3) the use of transitional words or phrases and connectives.

The following connectives and transitional phrases are par­ticularly useful in an essay writing:

first, second, etc.; next, finally, eventually, furthermore, meanwhile; because of, for; as, and since; thus, therefore, as a result, and so; at the same time, but; and (in order) to, so (that); and for, yet, nevertheless, nonetheless, however; whereas, while; on the other hand; in contrast, unlike; similary, also, too, both; obviously; etc.

In essay writing the following hints concerning the lan­guage may be helpful:

— restrictions upon the vocabulary. Words and phrases labelled colloquial, familiar, vulgar, slang are excluded as inap­propriate. Abbreviations, contracted verbal forms, colloquial ab­breviations of words (such as ad, vac, exam, etc.) should not be used;

— preference should be given to concrete words rather than abstract (instead of walk — more specific stroll, shuffle, trot, etc.);

— wider use of phrasal verbs should be made;

— overused adjectives, adverbs, cliches should be avoided;

— idioms should be used with care;

— features of academic style should be preserved: lengthier and more complex paragraphs; the approach to the material is analytical, objective, intellectual, polemical; the academic writ­er's tone is serious, impersonal, formal rather than conversa­tional, personal, colloquial; the academic writer makes frequent

 

use of passive forms of the verbs; impersonal pronouns and phrases; complex sentence structures; specialized vocabulary; — one must be aware that there are differences in style and usage between disciplines and topics set.

 

A model paragraph development by contrast:

 

BRITISH AND AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES

 

British and American universities are similar in their pursuit of knowledge as a goal but are quite different in their organiza­tion and operation.

English universities and colleges, because of their selective intake, are relatively small. American universities, which com­bine a number of different colleges and professional schools, are large, sometimes with 20,000 to 25,000 students on one campus. Teacher training colleges and polytechnics are alter­natives to the university course for some students in England, being established for specific purposes. In contrast, virtually all schools of education, engineering and business studies, are in­tegral parts of universities in the United States. In England uni­versities receive about 70% of their financial support through Parliamentary grants. Similarly, in the United States, public in­stitutions receive about 75% of their funds from local, state, and federal sources, but private colleges and universities receive lit­tle or no government support. In England, personal financial aid is provided by the government to over 80% of the students through local educational authorities according to the parents' income. In the US student's aid is administered by the univer­sity or the sponsoring agency and is provided by private orga­nizations and the state or federal governments. Obviously Brit­ish and American universities have similar educational aims but different means of achieving those aims.

 

14. Buzz group— small groups of 3-5 persons to enact a simultaneous discussion of a motion. Each group has to work out and note down all possible arguments in favour of its mo­tion including defences against points that might be brought up by the opposition. It also has to work out the presentation of this material (who will put which argument and how), using every member of the group. The result of the discussion within a buzz group is to be reported by one of its members to the whole group.

 

 

 

Unit Three

 



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