Chess Blog

The U.S. Education System

If you're moving to the United States  and have a family, knowing more about the U.S. school system can help you decide which part of a metro area to settle in. Additionally, by learning as much as you can about American schools, you can help your children prepare for the transition from the Australian system and eliminate some of their fear of the unknown.

To help you begin to explore the ins and outs of the U.S. school system, here are some basic facts:


  • The majority of American children attend public schools, which are run by local school districts. These schools are free for anyone who lives within the school district's service area to attend.
  • Roughly 10% of American children are enrolled in private schools. These institutions are run by religious groups and other organizations. The majority of these schools charge an annual tuition.
  • State governments set most of the standards and laws that govern public schools. Private schools must adhere to some, if not all, of the state laws. Federal laws also place national mandates that all states must enforce.
  • Compulsory education in most states in the U.S. starts with kindergarten. Children are usually enrolled when they are five or six years old. 
  • In all states, children must complete grades 1-12. Typically, children begin first grade at age six or seven, going on to complete high school at the age of 17 or 18.
  • Kindergarten through grade five is typically considered primary or elementary school. Grades 6-8 are often referred to as middle school or junior high. High school is the term given for grades 9-12.
  • High school students typically have a choice to attend a vocational-technical school to learn a trade or to take traditional courses.
  • Advanced level classes are offered in many subjects. These are sometimes referred to as "Honours" courses. Some schools offer classes that can result in college credits with the successful completion of a culminating exam. These are known as Advanced Placement or A.P. courses.
  • Most schools begin classes during the last weeks of August and conclude classes at the beginning of June. The months between school years are referred to as "summer vacation" or "summer break".
  • Schools typically take a recess that lasts 10 days to two weeks over the Christmas holidays, which is the "winter vacation" or "winter break".
  • During the Easter holiday, many schools have a spring break that lasts for three days to one week, known as "spring break".
  • Some states have achievement tests that students must pass to move from one grade to another or to graduate from high school.
  • Students who wish to attend college after high school must typically take one of two standardised tests: the SATs or the ACTs. Each college in America establishes minimum scores for acceptance.
If you have questions about schools in the U.S. or would like more information about the education options in the part of the country to which you'll be moving, contact us here at Chess Moving. We'll be glad to assist you.




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