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Last Updated: June 30, 2022

High School Education in the US

High schools in the US are the institutions/schools that typically provide education to grades 9 to 12. Generally, every town will have a high school, although smaller towns might combine their resources to provide a single high school to their students. Students who are proceeding with their high school education will be aware of the kinds of high school education they can opt for. This is mostly dependent on the location one is situated in and the field of study they wish to pursue after completing their high school education. The biggest factors that one will have to consider while choosing a high school will include the cost, the student-teacher ratio, the graduation rate in the school, the activities and opportunities provided, the student population on average, and even the curriculum offered. One will also have to be aware of the types of Advanced Placement subjects that are being offered here if they plan ahead for their future.

While public education in the country is free, some restrictions allow students to study only in a high school within their locality. This can imply moving across states as a family to locate oneself near the perfect high school that offers it all. Students will also have the option of joining private institutions of home-schooling themselves depending on their financial situation.

Kinds of High Schools in the US

There are different kinds of high schools that one will be able to opt for, each of which will have its pattern for setting the curriculum and the like. The rules and regulations that are set in place will also be dependent on the type of high school one has chosen to go to. Most students opt for public high schools since they provide education completely free of cost but at the same time, brilliant students will be able to opt for magnet schools or STEM high schools that deal with their field of interest. Students will also have the option of attending virtual schools or being home-schooled. A few of the most popular high school types include-

Public High Schools

Public high schools are institutions that are fully funded by the state or the federal government. Public schools in general will not have the same set of beliefs or educational system since this is dependent on the educational philosophy they focus on. This is mostly set by the state or the institution in itself and will coincide with the belief system of the state the school is located in.

These institutions will only have students who live within the locality as is the policy. They will also have a special focus on a particular subject if they are academically driven or they will generally focus on disciplinary teaching. Public high schools offer free education for all students.

Charter High Schools

Chartered schools are also public schools with a slight difference in the way state regulations are approached. Parents of students and other educational influencers get to have a say in these institutions based on which the state regulations are modified for providing a better educational experience to students. These institutions are known to provide better education to students when compared to public high schools and they are also tuition-free.

These institutions are handled by autonomous authorities in association with state or local governments. The curriculum, form of discipline, etc. offered here will be tailor-made for the institution making it a better place for students to achieve their goals.

Magnet High Schools

Magnet high schools are also public schools but they specialize in providing education that focuses on a particular field of study. The school will admit only educationally brilliant students and they provide education to students from diverse backgrounds. Magnet schools try to create a culturally rich environment within classrooms by providing admission to students from different cultural backgrounds.

Since these institutions focus on providing specialized education in different fields of study, they have entrance exams that one has to clear.

Private Schools

Private schools are educational institutions that are funded by the town and the government. A portion of the property tax from the town is allocated to the school board every year which is responsible for funding most of the activities in the schools. Most private high schools are funded by religious institutions and other non-profit organizations. These institutions have a tuition fee that is set by the governing body of the institution. The disciplinary method and curriculum opted by the institution will entirely be based on the discretion of the institution.

Cost of Studying in a High School

Public education for high schools in the country is offered free of cost to all students. This will include magnet schools, charter schools, etc. that are publicly funded and managed. Private high schools on the other hand will levy a tuition fee that is set by the institution themselves. The average fee for studying at a private high school is estimated to be around $15,000 per year. The fee for Catholic high schools on the other hand will be relatively less at an estimated amount of $11,000. While this is the average amount, there are institutions that charge amounts as high as $45,000 per year.

Getting Admission in a High School

The admission process for high schools is dependent on the kind of institution one is planning to attend. Public institutions mostly admit all students within the locality irrespective of their grades or background but at the same time, magnet high schools and some charter high schools will have entrance examinations that one will have to clear for gaining admission. The evaluation criteria include-

Grading System in High Schools

There are different kinds of grading systems used in the US which are left to the choice of individual institutions. No grading scheme has been mandated nationally by the education system in the country and hence students will have to understand the grading system opted by their institution and prepare themselves accordingly. They will also be able to choose institutions based on the grading system they follow.

The different kinds of grading systems include-

Norm-Referenced Grading Systems

This is the traditional form of grading students in school and it looks like-
GradePerformanceStudent Population
AExcellentTop 10%
BGoodNext 20%
CAverage/FairNext 30%
DPoor/PassNext 20%
FFailBottom 20%

Criterion-References Grading System

This grading system is more commonly opted for by institutions since it provides both an alphabetic character that denotes the performance level and the mark range out of 100. The grading standpoints used can differ based on the institution. Mostly it looks like-
GradePerformanceMark Range
FFail-65 or -60
In this form of grading, faculties will have the authority of providing a plus or minus sign near the letter grade to denote the extra qualities that reflect beyond the test grades of the candidate. This is generally considered during college application processes.

Pass-Fail Systems

Certain institutions in the US use a pass-fail system depending on the field of education they are dealing with. These institutions do not believe that the said field can be quantitatively assessed and hence the accepted standards will vary from one institution to another. It is mainly for fields like fine arts and music that this grading system is used.

Non-Graded Evaluations

Some institutions in traditional fields of education do not believe in providing a competitive element to the education they provide. Such institutions opt for a non-grading policy that is based on continuous evaluation of the candidate. These institutions will convert their formulae into traditional forms of grading if higher educational institutions require it for admitting the candidate.

Grades in a High School

Standard high school education has a duration of 4 years in all starting with the 9th grade and ending after the 12th grade. Each of these grades has been allotted a cool term that is popularly used by all students in the country.

Best High Schools in the US

The best rated high schools in the US based on the student-teacher ratio, curriculum, facilities and the graduation rate of students are as follows-
High School NameTypeLocation
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and TechnologyMagnet High SchoolFairfax County, Virginia
Academic Magnet High SchoolMagnet High SchoolNorth Charleston, South Carolina
Signature SchoolCharter High SchoolEvansville, Indiana
School for Advanced StudiesPublic High SchoolMiami, Florida
Payton College Preparatory High SchoolPreparatory High SchoolChicago, Illinois
The Davidson Academy of NevadaPublic High SchoolReno, Nevada
Central Magnet SchoolMagnet High SchoolMurfreesboro, Tennessee
The School for the Talented and GiftedMagnet High SchoolDallas, Texas
Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and TechnologySTEM High SchoolLawrenceville, Georgia
Julia R. Masterman Secondary SchoolMagnet High SchoolPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
BASIS ChandlerCharter High SchoolChandler, Arizona
Tesla STEM High SchoolSTEM High SchoolRedmond, Washington
Haas Hall AcademyCharter High SchoolFayetteville, Arkansas
Whitney High SchoolPublic High SchoolRocklin, California
California Academy of Mathematics and SciencesMagnet High SchoolCarson, California

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