Pennsylvania has 500 public school districts, thousands of private schools, publicly funded colleges and universities, and over 100 private institutions of higher education.
Primary and secondary education
In general, under state law, school attendance in Pennsylvania is mandatory for a child from the age of 8 until the age of 17, or until graduation from an accredited high school, whichever is earlier. As of 2005, 83.8% of Pennsylvania residents age 18 to 24 have completed high school. Among residents age 25 and over, 86.7% have graduated from high school. Additionally, 25.7% have gone on to obtain a bachelor’s degree or higher. State students consistently do well in standardized testing. In 2007, Pennsylvania ranked 14th in mathematics, 12th in reading, and 10th in writing for 8th grade students.
In 1988, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed Act 169, which allows parents or guardians to homeschool their children as an option for compulsory school attendance. This law specifies the requirements and responsibilities of the parents and the school district where the family lives.
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is the public university system of the Commonwealth, with 14 state-owned schools. The Commonwealth System of Higher Education is organizing body of the 4 state-related schools in Pennsylvania, these schools are independent institutions that receive some state funding. There are also 15 publicly funded two-year community colleges and technical schools that are separate from the PASSHE system. Additionally there are many private two- and four-year technical schools, colleges and universities.
Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Pittsburgh, are members of the Association of American Universities, an invitation only organization of leading research universities. Pennsylvania State University is the Commonwealth's Land-grant university, Sea Grant College and, Space Grant College. The University of Pennsylvania is considered the first university in the United States and established the first medical school in the United States, as well as being the only Ivy League school in the state. The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is the first and oldest art school in the United States. Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, now a part of University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, was the first pharmacy school in the United States.