Starting a new career as an international healthcare professional in the U.S. can be life-changing for you and your family. One crucial aspect of settling into a new country, especially for your children, is to understand the education system. Schooling is accessible in the U.S., and all children living in the United States have the right to free public education, regardless of their background or citizenship status. In this article, we provide an overview of schooling in the U.S., to help you navigate the educational landscape and make the best decisions for your kids.
Structure of the U.S. school system
The U.S. school system is divided into three main levels: elementary (grades K-5, ages 5-11), middle or junior high (grades 6-8, ages 11-14), and high school (grades 9-12, ages 14-18). While public schools are the most common choice for families in the U.S. as they are free of cost, private schools and charter schools are also available – but they can be expensive.
Curriculum and standards
The U.S. educational curriculum typically consists of core subjects such as English, mathematics, science, and social studies. States in the U.S. set their own educational standards, resulting in variations across the country. The Common Core State Standards Initiative has been adopted by numerous states, with the aim to establish consistent learning goals.
Admission and enrollment
To enroll your children in a U.S. school, you will need to contact the school district in your residential area. This is something that your Conexus MedStaff Engagement Manager can help with. Enrollment requirements will vary but generally include proof of residence, immunization records, and birth certificates. Some schools may require additional documents or conduct entrance assessments.
Special education and individualized learning
Accommodations and resources are provided for students with special needs. If you have a child with disabilities, you should contact the school district to discuss an Individualized Education Program (IEP) evaluation, which creates a personalized learning plan.
U.S. schools promote a well-rounded education by offering a variety of extracurricular activities such as sports teams, clubs, music programs, and theater productions. Children are encouraged to engage in these activities to develop their skills, foster friendships, and embrace American culture.
Grading system and assessments
The U.S. grading system typically utilizes letter grades from A to F, with A being the highest and F indicating failure. Students' progress is often evaluated through a combination of in-class assessments, homework, projects, and standardized tests. Standardized tests like the SAT and ACT are commonly required for college admissions.
School calendar and hours
An academic year in the U.S. typically starts in late August or early September, and comprises two semesters: the fall semester, and the spring semester. These usually last around 15 weeks, with a winter break between the fall and spring semesters and a summer break after the spring semester. Schools generally operate Monday through Friday, with school hours varying by district and grade level.
Parent and teacher involvement
Parents are encouraged to actively participate in their children's education through parent-teacher associations (PTA) and school events. Regular communication with teachers helps foster a collaborative learning environment, and parent-teacher conferences are typically held periodically to discuss student progress.
Safety is a priority within U.S. schools, with various measures in place to protect students. Security protocols, emergency drills, and policies addressing bullying and harassment contribute to a safe learning environment for children.
Understanding the U.S. school system is essential if you are considering relocating with your children. By familiarizing yourself with the structure, curriculum, enrollment process, and other essential aspects discussed in this overview, you can make informed decisions that will support your children's education, and enable their successful integration into the American school system.
If you decide to make the move to work in the U.S. as an international healthcare professional with your children, Conexus MedStaff can help you with the visa application process. We’ve created a guide to help you and your family thrive when you arrive in the U.S., which can be found here.
Still undecided about whether or not to make the move to the U.S. with your family? Read this article to help you make the best decision for you and your loved ones.
Are you a registered nurse or medical technologist looking to start a new career in the U.S.? Apply now to find out how we can help.