in Mexico and the United States
By Isabel Quiñónez, Program Coordinator, Migrant Education
As with many other aspects of life in the United States, the school system is different here than it is in other countries, including Mexico. What follows is a comparison of the educational systems in these two countries. This information is intended to equipparents with the information they need to actively participate in their children’s education.
Structure of the educational system in Mexico: The Mexican educational system is composed of the following levels—preschool, primary, secondary, preparatory, and higher education.
• Preschool serves children ages 3 to 5 through play activities. Students must have a certificate from preschoolin order to enter primary school.
• Primary school is comprised of six levels or grades and is normally for children who are between the ages of 6 and 14. Students older than 15 who have not finished their primary education may attend primary school classes for adults.
• Secondary education has been obligatory since 1993. It is designed for students age 12 to 16 and takes three yearsto complete. Secondary education also provides learning opportunities for students older than 16 and working adults. Completing this level of education is required for students who want to advance to the preparatory level of the education system.
• Students in the preparatory school can have three educational options. They can take general education classes, complete technical or vocationaltraining, or obtain a degree that prepares them for higher education.
• Higher education follows preparatory school. Students at this level study in universities, technological institutes, or specialty schools for teachers. Completion of higher education can lead to specialty, mastery, and doctorate degrees.
Structure of the educational system in the United States: The Americaneducational system is composed of the following levels: preschool, elementary, middle school, high school, technical school and community college, and university.
• Preschool is not mandatory in the United States. These schools are operated by independent organizations and are not part of the state education system.
• Elementary school is comprised of seven levels or grades for childrenbetween 5 and 12 years old. It begins with kindergarten and ends with grade 6. Elementary school is offered in many different forms—public, private, bilingual, and independent study (home school).
• Depending on the organization of the school district, the next level of education is called either “middle school” or “junior high.” These schools are composed of two or three school years forchildren 12 to 15 years old. Students must finish elementary school before advancing to middle school. Completion of this level of education is mandatory.
• High school includes four years of courses and is required for students between the ages of 14 and 18. Here, students are prepared to transition to various types of education or training. Upon completion of high school, they receive adiploma and can then enter into technical training or university. A high school diploma is required for most jobs in the United States.
• Technical schools prepare students for both short and long-term careers. Community colleges also offer technical training to prepare students for careers or transition to university.
• Students can enter university if they have obtained good academicstanding in high school or if they have completed courses at a community college. Universities are divided into public and private institutions. For example, Sonoma State University is a public university, while University of San Francisco is a private one. In a university or college, students can receive an undergraduate or bachelor’s degree (BA or BS), specialty degrees, master’s degree, and...