Primary education in the United States
Primary education in the United States typically refers to the first six years of formal education in most jurisdictions. Primary education may also be referred to as elementary education and most schools offering these programs are referred to as elementary schools. Preschool programs, which are less formal and usually not mandated by law, are generally not considered part of primary education. The first year of primary education is commonly referred to as kindergarten and begins at or around age 5. Subsequent years are usually numbered being referred to as first grade, second grade, and so forth. Students graduating from fifth grade, typically the last primary year, are normally age 11.
In 2001 there were 92,858 elementary schools (68,173 public, 24,685 private) in the United States, a figure which includes all schools that teach students from grades one through eight. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the fall of 2009 almost 3.5 million students attended public primary schools. In addition, 1,085,000 children were projected to attend public preschool or prekindergarten in the fall of 2009.
Elementary school (Kindergarten through grade 4/5/6)
Students may attend either a 5- or 6-year public or private elementary school. Elementary school usually runs from kindergarten through either grade 5 or grade 6, depending on the region. Upon successful completion of their primary education students then proceed to middle school, also known as junior high school. Additionally, students may have the option of attending elementary schools that include all eight primary grades. In this case the student will directly proceed to High School.
In most U.S. primary schools students have all their core classes from one or two homeroom teachers (as opposed to middle and high schools that typically have students rotate from one specialized teacher to the next throughout the day). In some primary schools, when funding and supplies are adequate, additional teachers are hired to instruct students in areas such as Art and Music.
Under the Obama administration, recognition of importance of early childhood education is growing. As a result, many private schools, and some public schools, are offering pre-kindergarten (also known as preschool or pre-K) as part of elementary school. According to Bennett, Finn, and Cribb of The Educated Child: A Parent's Guide from Preschool Through Eighth Grade, the first three to five years of an individual’s life can be the most critical period of their education. During this time period young minds work diligently on several physical, intellectual, and emotional developments, including curiosity, formation of character, personality, cognition, language skills, and social skills.
In addition, the Obama administration is urging the development and growth of new state-funded programs such as Head Start, a program under the United States Department of Health and Human Services. In 2007 it served over 22 million preschool-aged children and their families. Head Start works to educate the whole child in addition to providing health and nutrition services to low-income families.
A study of seven industrialized nations found that in 2006, the average starting salary of American public primary school teachers with minimum qualifications was $34,900. In this regard the United States was second only to Germany (non-U.S. salaries were converted to U.S. dollars at purchasing power parity).
The 2007 a survey conducted by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) reported that the average salary for an American teacher was $51,009; this is also recorded as the first time in history the average pay for teachers has exceeded the $50,000 mark.
National Science Standards
Under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, public schools receiving government funding are required to test and assess student progress each year. Individual States and not the federal government are required to develop their own set of standards by which they measure student progress. Although standardized testing is seen as a valid way for measuring content knowledge and progress in areas such as math and reading at the primary level there is much dispute amongst the scientific community on how to measure the progress of scientific knowledge.
In 1996 the National Research Council (NRC) and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) got together with other science organizations to develop the "National Science Education Standards". In the past simply the study of and presentation of core content knowledge for areas such as: physical, life, earth, and space sciences; was seen as sufficient. After the development of the new "Science Standards" concern shifted from teaching content alone to learning science “disciplines in the context of inquiry, technology, personal [and] social perspectives”.
- Education in New York City
- Education in the United States
- Secondary education in the United States
- Primary education
- "Comparative Indicators of Education in the United States and Other G8 Countries: 2004" (PDF). U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
- "Digest of Education Statistics, 2001" (PDF). National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
- "Fast Facts". Nces.ed.gov. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
- "Organizing for America | BarackObama.com | Education". BarackObama.com. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
- Bennett, William J.,Chester E. Finn, Jr., and John T. E. Crib, Jr., The Educated Child: A Parent’s Guide from Preschool Through Eighth Grade. New York: The Free Press, 1999
- "Education | The White House". Whitehouse.gov. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
- Miller, D. C., Sen, A., Malley, L. B., and Burns, S. D. (2009). "Comparative Indicators of Education in the United States and Other G-8 Countries: 2009 (NCES 2009-039)" (PDF). Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. p. 61. Retrieved 2009-07-29.
- "Transfer to". American Federation of Teachers. Retrieved 2010-05-05.[dead link]
- "Elementary School Teachers, Except Special Education". Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
- Zemelman,Steven, Harvey Daniels, and Arthur Hyde. Best Practice: Today’s Standards for Teaching & Learning in America’s Schools. New Hampshire: Heinemann, 2005