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The High School, and the related junior high schools and senior high schools are primarily found in the United States. They are "secondary schools that deliver phase two and three of the "ISCED model of education, to pupils between the ages of 12 and 18. The high school usually takes pupils from 14 to 18 (but sometimes through 21) and prepares them for college. The name high school is applied in other countries, but no generalisation can be made as to the age range, financial status or ability level of the pupils accepted.



The term "high school" originated in "Scotland, with the world's oldest high school being "Edinburgh's Royal High School from 1505.[1][2] The Royal High School was used as a model for the first "public high school in the "United States, Boston Latin School founded in "Boston, "Massachusetts.


The first taxpayer-funded public school in the United States was in Dedham.

The first schools in the North American colonies opened in the seventeenth century to prepare boys to read the Bible. The "Boston Latin School opened in 1635. This contrasts with schools in the Old World, where "King's school in Canterbury opened in 597, and "King's School, Rochester was founded on 604 and re-founded in 1415. The Boston school was then a private school, but the school in "Dedham, Massachusetts (1641) was the first school to be supported by public taxation.[3] The schools prepared boys for law or the church. The length of the school day varied with the seasons but there was a shortage of Latin speakers available to become teachers, the job was low status and pay made the job unattractive. The colony ordered in the English Protestant Tutor retitled as "The New England Primer to be used as a text book, and the tuition was by rote, and "Calvinist in tone.[4] This was the start of a secondary education system.

In 1642, the Massachusetts Bay Colony was able to pass a law to require parents to make sure that their children were able to read, which required some form of elementary education. In 1647 Massachusetts again passed a law to require communities to establish some type of public schooling system. Elementary schools were to be formed in every town with 50 families and every town with at least 100 families would have to provide a Latin Grammar School.[5][6]

A century later "Thomas Jefferson in 1779, proposes the opening of new secondary schools to provide a segregated secondary schools- with different tracks in his words for "the laboring (sic) and the learned." The new academies would be more practical in nature but allow a few of the labouring class to advance by "raking a few geniuses from the rubbish." At this stage the colonies were planning to break away from "Lord North government in Britain, and working up a "constitution which would define the white colonists freedoms and rights. In November 1783 the American colonies stood on their own.

The Continental Congress, in 1785, before the U.S. Constitution was ratified, passed a law calling for a survey of the "Northwest Territory" which included what was to become the state of Ohio. It assumed it has the right to give away or sell land that is already occupied by Native people. The law created "townships," reserving a portion of each township for a local school.[6] Under the constitution, education was devolved to individual states.

Pennsylvania state constitution written 1790 calls for free "public education but only for poor children asssuming that the rich will pay for their own children's schooling.[6] Educational decisions are "reserved for the state. In 1805, the New York Public School Society was formed by the wealthy to provide education to the poor. These schools were run on the "Lancasterian system, in which one "master" can teach hundreds of students in a single room. The master gives a rote lesson to the older students, who then pass it down to the younger students. Society was moving from an agrarian model with small independent plots to an industrial one where workers needed to be literate and numerate. Lancastrian schools emphasised discipline and obedience: qualities that factory owners needed in their workers.[6]

In Boston, the Boston Town Meeting was presented in 1817 with a petition calling for establishing of a system of free public primary schools. The main support came from local merchants, businessmen and wealthier artisans, while many wage earners opposed it, because they saw that it would be them who ended up paying for it through income taxes. In spite of this "Boston English school opened in 1820. This was the first public high school in the U.S., "Boston English, opens. And seven years later in 1827, a state law in Massachusetts made all grades of public school open to all pupils free of charge.[6]

However in the slave owning states, things were different, even when slavery was made illegal by "Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1865. Here in 1830 it was illegal by state law to teach a black child to read. High schools were out of the question.[6] In 1957, federal court had to order the integration of "Little Rock, Arkansas public schools. The "governor sent in troops to physically prevent nine African American students from enrolling at "all-white Central High School. This decision was over turned by the "federal president.[6]

A 'typical' American High School[edit]

There is no typical American high school. Schools are managed by local, elected "school districts. They range from intellectually stimulating or artistic challenging environments to holding warehouses for 14/15 to 18/19 year old teenagers.,[7]

Pupils (students) enter at the age of 14/15 and pass through four years

There is no nationally moderated exam at the age of 16, or on completion at 18. College entry is controlled by an elective SAT or ACT exam run by two not-for profit organisations. The SAT is a multiple choice exam which assigns a score to the student: the colleges set the entry score they individually require.[8]

Schools can be tiny with less than 200 pupils to a few with over 4000.[9]

A typical day[edit]

The typical day is:

The school year starts in September, or in late August and is divided into two "semesters. Within a semester, the modules taught can change two or three times so in effect a maths module can be taught in the first half semester, and then an American History module will be taught in that time slot for the rest of the semester, contrasting with the European secondary model where the same subject is taught for the whole year.["citation needed]


the high school's emphasis determined by the community and school district (is):


A high school curriculum is defined in terms of "Carnegie Units which approximate to 120 class contact hours within a year. This is one hour a day, five days a week for twenty-four weeks. Students who satisfactorily complete a unit are awarded a credit.[10] No two schools will be the same, and no two students will have the same classes, there are some general principles though. They can be on different programs within the same school: CP - College Preparation, AP - Advanced Preparation and IB - "International Baccalaureate

Courses are assessed on a five point scale: 1 and 2 are fail, 3, 4 and 5 are pass.

Physical Education requirement[edit]

The 2014 recommended federal standards for Physical Education are for 225 minutes/week for middle school and high school. The standards involve:


Amenities, experiences, extracurriculars, and breadth of available courses is dependent on funding. This is made up of:


High schools are depicted in many teenage orientated films and television "soap operas. They have become a genre in their own right. Almost universally these high schools are at the well funded end of the spectrum displaying rich kids.

  1. "The Breakfast Club
  2. "Napoleon Dynamite
  3. "Friday Night Lights
  4. "Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  5. "Juno
  6. "Easy A
  7. "Cooley High
  8. "Dead Poets Society
  9. "Election (film)
  10. "Fast Times at Ridgemont High[7]

Due to "Californian labor laws, the actors used are young adults, who rarely look young and can no longer act like "adolescents. "Hollywood fails to demonstrate the insularity of High School life where the pupil assume everything revolves round them. Since sex between even alleged teenagers runs the risk of being considered "child pornography, "teenage sex, "pregnancy and "STDs are barely covered and then only indirectly. High school films from Hollywood rarely discuss the "economic disparities between the social classes where the poor gravitate to the lower esteemed courses. This is the age that American kids are bought their first car by families that have the money.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ James J. Trotter, The Royal High School, Edinburgh (London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, 1911), p. 186.
  2. ^ J. B. Barclay, The Tounis Scule: The Royal High School of Edinburgh (Edinburgh: "Royal High School Club, 1974), p. 137.
  3. ^ Maria Sacchetti (2005-11-27). "Schools vie for honor of being the oldest". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2006-11-26. 
  4. ^ Singer, Alan (7 September 2015). "Welcome Back! A Brief History of Education in the United States (Part 1)". Huffington Post. Retrieved 24 August 2017. 
  5. ^ Collins, Bethany D. "THE RISE OF THE HIGH SCHOOL". Retrieved 22 August 2017. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Historical Timeline of Public Education in the US". Race Forward. The Center for Racial Justice Innovation- Center for Social Inclusion. 13 April 2006. Retrieved 22 August 2017. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Hubbard, Robin (16 July 2016). "What is the American high school life like". Quora. Retrieved 24 August 2017. 
  8. ^ College Board, SAT, 2017
  9. ^ "2018 Best Public High Schools in America". Niche. Retrieved 25 August 2017. 
  10. ^ "Digest of Education Statistics, 2015". Retrieved 11 September 2017. 
  11. ^ Yates, Jordan. "What courses do American high school students learn? - Quora". Retrieved 25 August 2017. 
  12. ^ Iowa Chiro Clinic, 2014
  13. ^ Mixon, Jon. "High Schools in the United States +2 How similar or different is the high school culture in the USA to the one shown in movies or TV?". Quora. 

External links[edit]

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