Here the states dictate some policy, and provide curriculum guidelines, as well as teaching materials. The variances come in areas such as textbooks--some states buy all the textbooks, in other states they provide a list of approved textbooks, and the schools buy them. The states pay the school districts based on attendance, and there is Federal money which is allotted in a similar manner.
Rather similar to here, Setanta.
Except that the states prescribe the broad curriculum guidelines, which all public schools are obliged to adhere too, with more flexibility up until year year 10. And student's are required to supply their own text books.
At senior level (years 11 & 12) called the VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education) in my state, schools must
adhere to the guidelines, including prescribed textbooks .... assessment is on a whole-state level, with some assessment being school-based, and a (whole state) examination at the end. Assessment at year 12 is carried out by external (to the schools) examiners.
The school-assessed course work (at year 12) is closely monitored by external state authorities.
As to organised sports at the senior level, there's a VCE subject called Outdoor Education
, which sports-inclined students can take. There's an "academic" component to the course (which is assessed, like all other VCE subjects)... there is a requirement that all
VCE subjects include a prescribed academic component. Students who do not undertake Outdoor Studies are able to participate in senior school sports teams (& inter-school competition) but their contribution will be noted (in their school record) as a positive contribution to extra-curricula activities of the school.
Organized, competetive sports between schools, as others have pointed out, is an extra. The states will organize district, regional and state competitions, and bear some of those costs, but basically, the local school has to find the money for themselves.
That seems to be the major difference between our two systems. That it is treated as an "extra".
Just about any
worthwhile activity, academic or other, within the school curriculum
is acknowledged (either within the formal
context of an area of study or less formally, as a positive contribution to the school, via voluntary extracurricular activity. A school "reference", if you like. Potential employers & (to some extent) tertiary institutions pay attention to both.)
When you say that "the states pay the school districts based on attendance", does that mean enrollments or actual attendance
In my own experience, public schools with "attendance problems" tend to be those with with the most daunting social
problems. Like: high & often entrenched unemployment in those communities, lots of "dysfunctional" families, etc ...
It's always seemed a far better idea to address the social disadvantages within those communities, rather than use the schools to enforce attendance. We have lots of those schools here. I have taught in quite a few of them over the years. I know the challenges those schools are confronted with ... And I know (all too well) how little support they receive (despite their very best efforts) in achieving those goals. Unfortunately, so much comes down to any student's family & social environment. I have seen so many students who have made amazing efforts, over & above the call of what most of us would ever
be required to make, to drag themselves out of poor family & social circumstances. Any public school with lots of students in situations like this requires extra support, if there is any fairness in the education experience at all. We used to call that the right to "equal opportunity" before it became so unfashionable.