1. Everything You Need to Know About The American Curriculum

Everything You Need to Know About The American Curriculum

Published on 02 Nov 2022

Schools in the United States and around the world offering the American Curriculum have a syllabus that is rooted in the standards introduced by accreditation bodies such as the Common Core State Standards or the AERO Common Core Plus Standards for American international schools. Students are encouraged to think critically and demonstrate creativity, and ultimately, be well prepared to attend university. Teachers are also responsible for delivering an academically challenging curriculum that meets each student’s needs, provides opportunities for social development, promotes students’ physical health, and invests in students’ moral growth.


What is the American Curriculum?

The American curriculum is a rigorous, standards-based system that aims to educate the whole child. Within the United States, each state maintains the right to deliver standards of its selection, relevant to the state and region. American schools abroad do not have the authority to accredit their educational programs therefore, the curriculum must be endorsed in the United States by one of the six accreditation authorities. These authorities include the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSACS) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).


Structure and Format

The academic year at American international schools is divided into two semesters where the credits are accumulated each semester. Generally, American curriculum students go through 13 years of study from pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12. English language arts, math, science, and social studies are core subjects at all levels. In addition, as part of having a holistic approach, schools provide opportunities for students to take classes in visual and performing arts, foreign languages, physical education, and technology.

At Elementary School, students who are around age 4 to 11 are in Kindergarten through Grade 5. These years are designed for the youngest students to build a strong foundation of knowledge, critical thinking skills, and leadership ability. Next, students in Middle School typically aged 11 to 14 are in Grade 6 to 8. These years equip students as they prepare for high school through the development of content knowledge and social skills. Students aged 14 to 18 will transition to High School where they will enter Grade 9 to 12. Students work to complete a certain number of credits (based on the school’s requirements) to earn a high school diploma and be prepared for universities in English-speaking countries worldwide.


After completing the required credits, students will earn an American High School Diploma that opens doors for them to enter leading universities around the world. Throughout high school, students have access to academic advising and university counselling where counsellor help students in their application to universities and assist with organising testing for the PSAT, SAT, and ACT assessments that measure the knowledge and skills that students learn in high school.

American schools also often offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses to give students university-level courses that give them leverage when applying to universities and scholarships worldwide. 


Subjects covered

The American curriculum is designed to prepare students for university in the United States and other English-speaking countries worldwide. The curriculum is standards-based whereby the student is taught and guided by great teachers to master the specific subject. 

Some subjects that are taught in an American curriculum are:

  • English Language Arts 
  • Maths 
  • Science 
  • Social Studies 
  • Foreign language 
  • Music
  • Art 
  • Design and technology 
  • Drama 
  • Physical education 
  • Ethics and values 
  • Bahasa Malaysia (under the Malaysian Education requirement)

Co-curricular Programs 

Schools based on the American curriculum strive to provide students with a rich variety of co-curricular activities, allowing students to explore their interests and develop their passions. Although the activities are optional, students are encouraged to participate in a sampling of activities or focus on developing a known passion.

Some co-curricular programs that are offered in American-based international schools are:

  • Sports 
  • Arts 
  • Technology 
  • Academic competitions 
  • Service-learning programs 


The American curriculum has been a preferred curriculum by many families due to its many benefits. Here are some benefits of studying in an American curriculum:

1. Worldwide recognition 

The American curriculum is considered the gold standard of learning due to its accreditation. Students who take the American curriculum are eligible to attend any college or university of their choice locally or internationally, specifically in the United States.


2. Teacher and student relationship 

The American curriculum encourages both teachers and students to have a lenient and amicable interaction while inspiring respect and appreciation for more rigorous educational approaches. Teachers will play around with different teaching methods to find one that is best suited to accommodate the student’s learning style.


3. Active learning 

Students earn in groups which guides them in acquiring critical social skills while the teachers instil in them the yearning to learn. Students are encouraged to learn and discuss in an open environment. Moreover, with the wide range of subjects, and co-curricular and extracurricular activities offered, students will be well-rounded in both academics and activities.


4. Precedency to creativity 

The American curriculum is structured to encourage soft skills such as innovation, creativity, and critical thinking. Other skills such as communication, and collaboration are encouraged and applied to maintain creativity among students.


5. Holistic development 

The American curriculum focuses on educating the student wholly. Teachers ensure that the student’s intellectual needs are met while also providing opportunities for social development, promoting physical and mental health and investing in students’ moral growth. 



The American curriculum is a great choice for many students. However, the choice of which school and curriculum to choose is personal to each child and family. Generally speaking, if your family has plans to go to the United States, the American Curriculum is a great choice. 


If you are interested in knowing more about international schools offering the American curriculum, visit the 17th Private & International School Fair happening this weekend.


Details at a glance:

17th Private & International School Fair in Kuala Lumpur

Date: 5 & 6 November 2022 (Saturday and Sunday)

Time: 11 am to 6 pm


Venue: Mid Valley Exhibition Centre 

Our Sponsors