Education in the U.S. and Poland is comparable in terms of funding, years spent in school and levels of education.
Elementary education in the U.S. and Poland begins at almost the same age of 5-6 years.
Primary and secondary education classified into grades in the U.S. and Poland.
Academic year in America and Poland run from September to June and October to June respectively.
Differences in grading systems in both Poland and the U.S.
Undergraduate and graduate schools are found in the U.S. whereas Poland has non-tertiary and tertiary education.
Funding of education in Poland and the U.S. and free education in Poland up to university.
Education in the U.S. versus Education in Poland
Education system in the U.S. is different in some aspects from education system in Poland whereas there are some aspects that are similar. Differences and similarities in the education system in these two countries is seen in the areas of funding, the number of years spent in school, the various levels of education as well as the awards/degrees earned after schooling among other aspects. This paper discusses the differences and similarities in education between the United States and Poland.
Comparing education in the U.S. and in Poland
In the United States, there is a preschool program which is set for children below 5 years but the preschool program is not compulsory. Mandatory education starts at the elementary level of education which begins when the child is at the age of 5 to 6 years although age differs from state to state. The initial year in school is referred to as kindergarten level whereas the second year in school is known as grade 1. In Poland, education starts in the ‘0’ class which is also known as the kindergarten when the child is about 5 to 6 years old (EurActiv.com, para 8). When the child is 6 to 7 years old, he or she is supposed to be in the first year in primary school. In the U.S., primary school years are considered to be from grade 1 to grade 5. Upon successful completion of grade 5, a student joins secondary education comprised of middle school (grade 6 to grade 8) and high school (grade 9 to grade 12). In Poland however, primary education is a six-year period whose stage 1 comprises of grade 1 to grade 3. The second stage comprises of grade 4 to grade 6 upon which one proceeds to secondary education. Secondary education is made of a gymnasium stage where the student attends school for 3 years followed by another three or four years in upper secondary school. The upper secondary school is either in a lyceum or in a technical secondary school (Embassy of the Republic of Poland in London, para 5-6).
Completing grade 12 in the U.S. qualifies one with a high school diploma and one is eligible to join undergraduate school. The undergraduate school can either be a two-year associate degree program or a four-year bachelor degree program. Successful undergraduates are eligible for admission in graduate school for master’s degree which takes mostly two years or a doctor of philosophy (PhD) degree which takes a minimum of three years (USA Study Guide, para 3-4). The graduate school is the highest level of education in the U.S. In Poland, secondary school graduates join non-tertiary education for two to five years to study in different fields of academics. This is then followed by a tertiary level of education as a form of higher education where students study master and doctoral degrees. A doctoral degree in Poland mainly runs for three to four years. A doctor habilitowany degree is also awarded to outstanding doctors and this qualifies one to the position of a professor (EuroEducation.net, Poland, para 20).
Whereas compulsory formal education in the U.S. ends usually at the age of 16 years, compulsory education in Poland mainly ends at the age of 18 years. The U.S. academic year runs from September to June whereas the academic year in Poland runs from October to June. Whereas the language of instruction in the U.S. education system is English, Polish is the main language of instruction in Poland. In the U.S., secondary school grading is made of Roman alphabets ranging from A for excellent to F for failure. In higher education, a similar grading system to that of secondary schools is used or it may be a points grading system (4.0 for excellent to 1.0 for failure) (EuroEducation.net. United States of America, para 19). In Poland, secondary school grading uses letters ranging from 6 for excellent to 1 for “unsatisfactory” and ‘+’ or ‘-’ signs can be appended to the grades. In higher education institutions, grades are awarded from 5 for “very good” to 2 for “unsatisfactory” with ‘+’ or ‘-’ signs appended (EuroEducation.net, Poland, para 28).
In both Poland and the United States, there are both public and private educational institutions. Students study for free up to university level in Poland with lower schools being funded by local authorities’ budgets whereas the state budget finances vocational institutions (Encyclopedia of the Nations, para 1). In the U.S., there are school districts that manage schools and in general education is financed through the local, state or federal budget. In the U.S., students largely depend on loans or grants which may come in form of scholarships especially for higher education.
In conclusion, there are many fine details that differentiate education in the U.S. and education in Poland. The main differences are however outstanding in the area of the education system. Poland’s compulsory education begins at 6 years and ends at 18 years whereas the U.S. compulsory education ends at the age of 16 years. Minor differences are also notable in the years spent in primary, secondary and higher education and the grading systems are substantially different. Free education up to university level is also an outstanding characteristic of education in Poland.
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