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Italy

Secondary Education

Secondary schools (Scuola Secundaria) are divided into lower and upper secondary education. Lower secondary or middle school is compulsory, lasts three years, and is for students 11- to 14-years-old. In 1992-1993 there were 9,857 lower secondary school with approximately 2,059,044 students and 233,034 teachers. The goal of these schools is to prepare students for life and careers. Individual subjects are taught by teachers with specialty in the field; however, teachers use cooperative, interdisciplinary planning and curricular connections to ensure coherence and uniformity. The curriculum includes Italian, history, civics, geography, foreign language, mathematics, sciences (physics, chemistry, and natural sciences), technical education, art, music, physical education, and catholic religion (optional). Teachers use non-prescribed, commercial textbooks.

Student assessment no longer includes marks from 1 through 10 or remedial exams. Each teacher enters narrative comments on the learning progress and maturity level of the student. The personal report card (Sheda Personale) is prepared by each teacher and presented to the class council (Consiglio di Classe) where all teachers agree on a written final assessment with explanatory notes that is sent to parents. The class council decides on the student promotion to the following academic year. At the end of the third year, all students take an exam consisting of three written tests in the subject areas of Italian, mathematics, and a foreign language and a multidisciplinary oral test. Students who fail must repeat the academic year. Passing students earn an overall assessment of excellent, good, or satisfactory and receive a middle school certificate (Diploma di Licenza Media). This enables them to enter upper secondary education.

Upper secondary education is available for students aged 14 to 19. Most upper secondary schools are public and require a fee that may be waived according to the family financial need and the student assessment at the end of the year. The school year is from September until the end of June. Programs vary from three to five years. The majority of Italian teenagers attend Liceo Classico and Liceo Scientifico to prepare for university studies. Others attend art schools (Liceo Artistico or Istituto d'arte); music school (Conservatorio di Musica); elementary teacher preparatory programs (Istituto Magistrale) or nursery school preparatory programs (Scuola Magistrale). Some students attend the Liceo Linguistico, a privately funded and operated upper secondary institution. Those students who do not wish to pursue a university education may enroll in technical or vocational schools (Istituti Tecnici or Istituti Professionali) after middle school for three years or more of training and education in applied fields.

The classical type education includes the classic liceum and the scientific liceum. The classical liceum prepares students for the university and other types of higher education. Liceum studies take five years and consist of two cycles: the lower cycle of two years and the upper cycle of three years. Students attend school six days per week and lessons are one hour per subject. Curriculum includes Italian language and literature, Latin language and literature, Greek language and literature, foreign language and literature, history, philosophy, natural sciences, chemistry, geography, mathematics, physics, history of art, and physical education. Catholic religion is optional. The scientific liceum prepares students for university education with emphasis in the sciences. Curriculum includes Italian language and literature, Latin language and literature, foreign language and literature, history, philosophy, geography, natural sciences, chemistry, astronomy, mathematics, physics, drawing, and physical education. Catholic religion is optional.

Teacher Training (Istituto Magistrale) for primary school teaching provides access to further study at schools of education at the university level. This program requires four years of coursework and may include a fifth year leading to university studies in the field of education. Curriculum includes Italian language and literature, Latin language and literature, foreign language and literature, philosophy, courses on teaching methods and educational psychology, history, civics, geography, natural sciences, chemistry, mathematics, physics, drawing, history of art, choral music, and physical education. Students may elect to study the Catholic religion or a musical instrument.

Nursery school teacher training (Scuola Magistrale) is a three-year course of study. Curriculum includes Italian language and literature, education courses, history, geography, accounting, mathematics, natural sciences, hygiene and pediatrics, music and choral singing, home economics, theory and application of physical education, handicrafts, drawing, and teaching methods. Catholic religion is optional.

Assessment for all types of classical, upper secondary schooling is done by individual teachers according to each subject. At the end of the year the Class Council determines each student's final assessment. Students must earn marks between a six and a ten for each subject; those with lower marks must repeat exams in September prior to entering a new school year. At the end of upper secondary school, students must take an exam consisting of two written tests and an oral test. The oral portion of the exam is given by an examining board, which asks questions based on the written exams. Students are expected to demonstrate expressive and critical ability. Those passing the exam receive a certificate of completion (Maturita). In 1992-1993 there were 753 classical liceums with 231,064 students and teachers; 1,038 scientific liceums with 472,950 students and teachers; 541 primary teacher training schools with 159,518 students and 57,370 faculty; and 165 nursery teacher training schools with 21,522 students and teachers.


Artistic liceum provides students with specialization in painting, sculpture, stage design, and architecture. Coursework lasts for four years with access to higher education at the Fine Arts Academy (Academia di Belle Arti) or schools of architecture at the university. Following a fifth year, students may obtain a certificate of art (Diploma di Maturita Artistica). General curriculum includes Italian language and literature, history, history of art, mathematics, physics, natural sciences, chemistry, physical geography, and physical education. Art curriculum includes life drawing, still life, figure modeling, ornamental modeling, geometric drawing, perspective, elements of architecture, and anatomy for artists.

Art schools (Istituti d'Arte) prepare students for traditional craftwork in industry, such as in ceramics, textiles, printing, glass, or gems. Courses last approximately three years and lead to the master of art diploma (Diploma di Maestro d'Arte Applicata). Students who complete two additional years of coursework obtain the upper secondary certificate (Diploma di Maturita di Arte Applicata). Curriculum for art schools includes general subjects (Italian language and literature, history, civics, history of art and applied arts, mathematics, natural sciences, chemistry, and geography) and art curriculum (geometric and architectural drawing, life drawing, and plastic arts). Catholic religion is optional.

Special education is provided for by law and is available for special needs students, including the handicapped. Special students attend regular classrooms; however there also self-contained classrooms for students who are not able to be included in regular classroom instruction. There are also institutes for the blind and the deaf. Teachers at these institutes receive special training so they can work with these students. Classes for the blind include physical therapy, telephone switchboard, and basket weaving.

The handicap law of 1992 provides for special education for nursery school, elementary, and middle school students. Some classes are also held in rehabilitation centers and hospitals for children unable to come to school. These classes are set up by the provincial directorates of education in coordination with health services, as well as public and private centers under contract to the Health Ministry and the Ministry of Labor. Teachers with specific training in psychology and associated pedagogy are hired for these centers. Teachers with a specialized credential in special education become support teachers (Insegnanti di Sostegno) in local school groups (Circolo Didattici) for nursery and primary schools and in individual secondary schools. Special education teachers often work alongside a regular teacher, providing support to the special needs students.

Students between the ages of 14 and 17 may enroll in three-year technical or vocational programs that have an optional additional two years of education and training. Technical Schools (Istituto Tecnico) prepare students to work in jobs in agriculture, industry, business, tourism, surveying, foreign trade, laboratory technicians, and many other practical professional occupations. Vocational Schools (Istituto Profesionale) prepare students for work in industry, agriculture, trade, hotel business, and other skilled work in the labor market.

Technical and vocational schools have similar curricula, which include general classes (Italian language and literature, history, civics, geography, foreign languages, mathematics, physics, natural sciences, chemistry, drawing, and physical education) and coursework within the field of specialization. Catholic religion is optional. Assessment for these schools is similar to that of upper secondary schools. In 1992-1993 there were 2,962 technical schools with 1,273,682 students and 111,334 teachers and 1,702 vocational schools with 534,044 students and 51,852 teachers.


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Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceItaly - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education