What are secondary schools?
In 1930 the United States Bureau of Education issued a bulletin on secondary education. Those in charge of the work were surprised to learn that very few persons outside the educational field had any idea of the meaning of secondary in connection with schools. Secondary education is the training provided by high schools. In other words, secondary schools are simply high schools, institutions that give instruction between elementary or primary school and the college. Secondary in contradistinction to primary or elementary is used in both the United States and Great Britain to describe a system of education above that offered by the elementary schools and below that provided by the institutions of higher learning. Matthew Arnold was the first to use secondary in this sense; he borrowed and adapted it from French usage. The high school as we know it now is a distinctly American institution. Such a school, known as the English High School of Boston, was established in 1821 and was probably the first institution of its kind in the United States. Every state in the Union now maintains free high schools at public expense. But the American public prefers to call them high schools rather than secondary schools.