Education is an important aspect in most countries, and Mexico and the United States are no different. However, there are many differences between the education system in the United States and that of Mexico. Contrasts can be found in the amount of years, structure, culture and context of the educational systems. Let's take a look at important differences in the schooling of these two countries.

Structure in United States Schools

In the United States, free public schooling may begin as early as preschool around age 4 and continues on to the end of high school, or grade 12. There are one to two years of preschool, depending on the state. Then there is elementary school, which is from grades one to five or six, depending on the district. Most elementary schools are kindergarten through grade five. Then middle schools teach students in grades six through eight, mostly. High school almost always consists of grades nine through 12.

Structure in Mexican Schools

In Mexico, there is preschool as well, followed by primary school. Primary school consists of six years of education until approximately ages 11 or 12. Afterward, students attend secondary school, or middle school, for three years much like in the United States. After secondary school, students attend the high school, which can either be a technical school for those who will attend college or a vocational school. High school lasts only three years in Mexico.

Public Education Laws

The United States provides free education for students from until grade 12, with free textbooks. Students are required to attend school until a certain age, depending on the state. In Mexico, the states must provide education up until upper secondary school; however, after grade six, families must pay for textbooks.

Issues Disrupting Education

Differences in culture of these two cultures lead to differences in the classroom. Poverty is a major issue in Mexico that disrupts education, especially when students must pay for books after grade six. Children in Mexico tend to work earlier to help support their families than children in the United States for this reason. In the United States, however, dropout rates continue to be an issue in high schools.


Literacy in the education system is more of an issue in Mexico than in the United States. The literacy rate in Mexico was slightly less than 96 percent in 2000 while in the United States it was about 98 percent for those over the age of 15. Mexico has created strong literacy campaigns to increase these levels.

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