What Is Secondary Education?

In the U.S., secondary education, commonly known as high school, typically includes grades 9-12. Secondary education students learn about general subjects, such as English, math and science, and complete elective courses. Secondary education schools take many forms and offer a variety of learning environments. Schools offering Education Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Secondary Education Structure

In the U.S., secondary education typically encompasses grades 9-12, but grades 6-8 also may be included in some school districts. Public high school is the most common form of secondary education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there were 24,357 public high schools in the U.S. during the 2011-2012 period.

In primary school, students generally are assigned to one classroom and one teacher for an entire academic year. In the typical secondary education structure, however, students attend various classes in different classrooms throughout the day. Class periods typically range from 30 to 90 minutes, with a different teacher conducting each class.

Important Facts About Secondary Educators

High School Teachers (Most Common) Middle School Teachers
Median Salary (2014) $56,310 $54,940
Entry-level Education Bachelor's degree; State licensure required for teaching public school Bachelor's degree; State licensure required for teaching public school
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 6% 12%
Work Environment Public, private, charter, secular or religious high schools Public or private middle schools

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Secondary Education Studies

Secondary education students must meet general education requirements in English, math, science, social studies and foreign language. Within this framework, students usually are given freedom to choose specific subjects, such as calculus, environmental science or Spanish.

Secondary education students also take elective classes, which might be artistic, vocational or technological in nature. Additionally, many high schools offer honors or advanced placement classes for students who desire more challenging coursework. For each secondary education class taken, students acquire credits, a set number of which are needed to graduate.

Secondary Education Options

In addition to public high schools, other secondary education institutions exist, including vocational or technical, performing arts, religion-based, alternative and college prep schools. Students at these schools complete general education requirements, but they also might focus on particular philosophies, methods or skill developments. For example, performing arts schools incorporate rigorous classes in dance, theater or music, while alternative high schools might provide smaller classes and individualized attention in more flexible environments. There are also residential high schools, where students live in dorms and study in an environment similar to that of a college or university.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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