More on the US school system – yearly schedule

4/25/2010 7:25:56 PM

Here’s more information on the US school system. We don’t have “Terms” like Michaelmas or Spring term as other English-speaking countries have. And the start times and end times of the school year vary from region to region. So here is an overview of how the US system works as far as yearly schedule and holidays are concerned.

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School yearly schedule:

Students in the US are required to have 180 days of formal instruction per year. Depending on the part of the country, school can begin as early as mid-August and end as late as mid-June. Southern states are usually early starters, while Northern states often wait until after Labor Day, the first Monday in September. This means that Southern states will usually end towards the end of May or beginning of June, while Northern States will go until middle of June or later–depending on how many snow days there are to make up. Any number of snow days–above and beyond those built into a schedule–are usually made up at the end of the year.

Seniors (12th grade) usually finish a few days to a week before the other grades as they have a graduation ceremony that is planned for well in advance. Kindergarteners often finish early as well, as their requirements are often met before the formal end of the school year.

“Terms” are 9 weeks long, and a report card is sent home after each term. Two terms make up a semester, and there are two semesters per school year. The terms are not named; they may be referred to as “first nine weeks” or “second nine weeks”. Most core classes (English, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies/History) are year-round. Most elective classes are on a semester basis.

Holidays: There are various single days off (mostly Mondays) to commemorate national and occasionally regional holidays. There are also various “teacher work days” planned for in the school schedule. The students wouldn’t report to class, but the teachers would be given a day to work on grades or other administrative tasks at school without having to teach.

The first major vacation is at Thanksgiving, in late November. This can go from Wednesday through the weekend, with the students returning the next Monday. The holiday itself is always on a Thursday. The next break would be roughly two weeks at the end of December, covering both Christmas and New Year’s, with students returning to school soon after the first of January.

Northern states usually have two separate weeks off during the second semester: one in February (when snowfall is usually highest), and one in April, sometimes over Easter, if that holiday happens to fall in April. Southern states usually only have the Spring holiday, and that will often take place over Holy Week, regardless of when it falls on the calendar.

If you have other questions on this subject, please feel free to ask. I’ll be happy to answer your questions.

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