Education in Puerto Rico
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|Department of Education
Council on Higher Education
|National education budget|
|Budget||$3.5 billion USD|
|Primary languages||Spanish, English|
|System type||state, private|
|Part of a series on|
|Education in Puerto Rico|
|Primary and secondary school|
Education in Puerto Rico is overseen by the Department of Education of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Education Council. The Department oversees all elementary and secondary public education while the Council oversees all academic standards and issues licenses to educational institutions wishing to operate or establish themselves in Puerto Rico.
Instruction in Puerto Rico is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 18, which comprises the elementary and high school grades. Students in Puerto Rico may attend either public or private schools. As of 2003, there were 1521 public schools and 562 private schools in the island.[needs update]
The literacy rate of the Puerto Rican population was 94.1% in 2002; when divided by gender, this is distributed as 93.9% for males and 94.4% for females. According to the 2000 Census, 60.0% of the population attained a high school degree or higher level of education, and 18.3% has a bachelor's degree or higher.[needs update]
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The first school in Puerto Rico and the first school in the United States after Puerto Rico became a US territory, was the Escuela de Gramática (English: Grammar School). The school was established by Bishop Alonso Manso in 1513, in the area where the Cathedral of San Juan was to be constructed. The school was free of charge and the courses taught were Latin language, literature, history, science, art, philosophy and theology.
The educational system in Puerto Rico consists of seven categories. These categories are based on the educational levels covered:
|#||Level||Age||Commonly known as||Compulsion||Remarks|
|1||nursery school||0–4||pre-K||optional||comprises Early Head Start, Head Start, and pre-kindergarten|
|3||elementary education||6–11||1–6||compulsory||comprises first grade to sixth grade|
|4||junior high school||12–14||7–9||compulsory||comprises seventh grade to ninth grade|
|5||high school||15–17||10–12||compulsory||comprises tenth grade to twelfth grade|
|6||undergraduate||18+||college||optional||comprises associate and/or bachelor's degree|
|7||graduate||22+||graduate school||optional||comprises master's degree, doctorate, and/or post-doctorate|
Some Puerto Rican schools, most notably in rural areas, offer kinder to ninth grade (K–9) at the same institution and are referred to as Segunda Unidad (English: Second Unit). Other schools offer seventh grade to twelfth grade (7–12) at the same institution and are referred to as Nivel Secundario (English: Secondary Level).
Elementary and secondary education
The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico grants the right to an education to every citizen on the island. To this end, public schools in Puerto Rico provide free and secular education at the elementary and secondary levels.
The public school system is funded by the state and is operated by the Puerto Rico Department of Education (Departamento de Educación del Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico) . The department employs over 45 thousand teachers of which 32,000 have full-time tenureships and are organized under the independent union Teachers' Federation of Puerto Rico. The remaining teachers are either temporary or contracted on a yearly basis.
Public schools in Puerto Rico are subject to the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Unlike most schools in the United States, public school instruction in Puerto Rico is conducted entirely in Spanish. English is taught as a second language and is a compulsory subject at all levels. In the early years following the 1898 American occupation of the island, the opposite was true: public schooling was entirely conducted in English, and Spanish was treated as a special subject (the practice ended in 1915). In 2012, pro-statehood Governor Luis Fortuño caused an uproar when he proposed that all courses in Puerto Rico public schools be taught in English instead of Spanish as they currently are.
Private schools in Puerto Rico are operated by non-governmental institutions. Accredited elementary and secondary private schools in Puerto Rico must meet minimum public education requirements for academic work (P.R. Laws Ann. Tit. 18, § 57).
Homeschooling, an alternative form of education, is legal in Puerto Rico but is neither regulated nor legislated.
The issue of legislation has caused a serious rift within the homeschooling community. While some of these parents want the government to establish a public policy on homeschooling, others oppose all forms of legislation. They also allege that the lack of regulation has led them to confront difficulties when interacting with the government, as evidenced in the case of a homeschooled student who was denied federal Social Security benefits.
From the Applicable Law portion of the decision:
Student benefits are payable if the student meets the Federal standards for full-time attendance (FTA) (RS 00205.300C.); the law of the State in which the home school is located recognizes home school as an educational institution (El); the home school the student attends meets the requirements of State law in which the home school is located; and the student meets all the other requirements for benefits.
Education is compulsory in Puerto Rico between the ages of six and seventeen years. 3L.P.R.A. §391 (a).Attendance in public elementary and secondary schools is compulsory for students except for those students attending "schools established under non-governmental auspices." - Puerto Rico Constitution, Article II §5; 18 L.P.R.A. §2.
After careful consideration of all the evidence, the undersigned Administrative Law Judge concludes the claimant did not attend a sanctioned home school program approved by the Puerto Rican legislature within the meaning of the Social Security Act from December 1, 2003 to August 1, 2004.
Higher education in Puerto Rico
Over half of the students entering college level institutions in Puerto Rico, never graduate: only 41% of 4-year students in public universities and 33% in private institutions get a diploma.
Community colleges & technical institutes
Colleges and universities
The largest public university in Puerto Rico is the multi-campus University of Puerto Rico. The largest private university systems on the island are the Sistema Universitario Ana G. Mendez which operates the Universidad del Turabo, Metropolitan University and Universidad del Este; the multi-campus Interamerican University; the Pontificial Catholic University; Caribbean University; Carlos Albizu University; and the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón.
Puerto Rico has over 50 institutions of higher learning.
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A recent study by the Department of Education of Puerto Rico showed that about 40% of all the students that enter tenth grade in public schools in Puerto Rico drop out and never finish secondary education.
Poor performance in public schools
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According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, ninety-five percent (95%) of public school students in Puerto Rico graduate at a sub-basic level while sixty percent (60%) do not even graduate. Furthermore, according to the Department of Education of Puerto Rico, thirty-nine percent (39%) of public school students perform at a basic level (average performance) in Spanish in the Puerto Rican Tests of Academic Achievement. Likewise, 36% perform at a basic level in Mathematics while 35% perform at a basic level in English and 43% at a basic level in Science in said tests.
Moreover, studies published in 2003, 2005, and 2007 by the United States National Center for Education Statistics as part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) concluded that Puerto Rico falls below basic levels when compared to the United States—being basic defined as "partial mastery of the knowledge and skills that are fundamental for proficient work" according to NAEP. In particular the findings showed that:
- Overall, fourth- and eighth-grade students in Puerto Rico scored lower, on average, than public school students in the United States.
- Twelve percent (12%) of students in Puerto Rico scored at or above basic in fourth grade in comparison to the United States where 79% of students scored at or above basic in the same grade.
- Six percent (6%) of students in Puerto Rico scored at or above basic in eighth grade in comparison to the United States where 68% of students in the United States scored at or above basic in the same grade.
Notable Puerto Rico educators
- Lolita Tizol
- Alfredo M. Aguayo
- Mariano Villaronga-Toro
- Maria Teresa Babin
- Elias Lopez Soba
- Eugenio María de Hostos
- La Junta Local de Instrucción Pública de Ponce: una Experiencia Histórica (1900-1910). Cristina R. Torres. Caribbean University, Recinto de Ponce. 2011. (Accessible through La Revista de Investigación Cualitativa, ISSN 2164-7216, Unión Puertorriqueña de Investigadores Cualitativos (UPIC), sistema de acceso abierto (OJS). "Revistas de la Universidad de Puerto Rico." University of Puerto Rico.) Discusses the topic of the municipalization of public education in Puerto Rico.
- Encyclopedia Puerto Rico
- CIA FactBook
- Census 2000 Educational Attainment Data
- "Hispanic Firsts", By; Nicolas Kanellos, publisher Visible Ink Press; ISBN 0-7876-0519-0; p.40
- Online Guide to Educational Systems Around the World - Puerto Rico. NAFSA.Page 4. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuño Proposes Plan For Island's Public Schools To Teach In English Instead Of Spanish. Danica Coto. 8 May 2012. Huffington Post. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
- Muchos estudiantes y pocos los diplomas. Jason Rodríguez Grafal. La Perla del Sur. Ponce, Puerto Rico. Year 30. Retrieved 22 June 1012.