How Are K-12 Schools Different In Poland Compared To the U.S.?
Depending upon the territory, K-12 educational systems greatly vary. Although most of these structures have only been patterned to the USA's original method, different countries' own takes on the K-12 educational organization has differed in so many ways. For instance, comparing America's K-12 schools with Europe's, specifically Poland's, would show a lot of dissimilarities.
One distinction between the two is the age of actual schooling. Before the K-12 system starts, both Polish and American kids are required to take a one-year pre-primary education or what most would call a kindergarten. American students would come as early as age 5 to 6. Polish kids however, start schooling at the 7 year old mark. Poland has recently gone into educational reformation wherein the before 8 year grade school education was cut down into 6 to go along with most neighboring countries. The USA follows a 6 year primary schooling as well. So at age 11 or 12, Americans are alongside 13 year olds in Polish when it comes to education received technically. Polish kids can also start "studying" by age 3 but it's mostly a playing environment and is only optional.
A further variation between the two is the type of schools offered. After middle school of 3 years in both countries, most American schools only offer academic education - or an education which shall prepare students for a higher education such as college. Polish high schools however can be a choice between a general lyceum, a vocational education and a technical secondary school. It depends on the compulsory exam to be taken at the end of a year where a Polish kid could qualify and continue his or her high school education. The amount of years a student would spend in these is 3, 3 and 4 years respectively. From vocational studies alone, a Polish student could already earn what is called a vocational diploma, stop schooling and work already.
After the Polish Reformation, the grading system of schools in Poland was also revised. The grades range from 1, 2-, 2, 2+ and so on until the full marks of 6 is received. 1 is considered as a failing grade. 2 is fair and 3 to 5 are passing rates. 6 is often given to the top students in the class and is usually noted as "exceeds expectations". If a 1 is given to a student, he or she is then obligated to repeat not only the subject but the whole year as well so 1 is an uncommon mark in Polish schools. How are K-12 schools different in Poland compared to the U.S.? American states on the other hand, commonly use the A+ to F grading system. A+ is the highest marks while an F is failing.
Another difference between Polish and American schools is the bilingual education program. Americans are mostly taught their own language and to learn an additional language is often just a choice of the student. Although some schools require a foreign language program, the language will only be taught on one year. In Poland, most schools have a compulsory additional language program, especially for minority institutions. In most Polish schools, it is a choice between English, German, Spanish, Latin, French and many more.
Another big difference is the examinations for higher education. In America, teens can take a test in any school they want. If they pass, then they are entitled to go to that school to finish a college degree. In Poland however, like the high school examinations, they are then taken to answer a finishing test which will decide in which school they are eligible to study. The weight of these tests could actually decide a Polish's future.