What is K-12 education?

K-12 education is a shorthand for the public school grades up to college and is used in education and educational technology in the United States, Canada, and other countries. K-12 education is the school years from kindergarten to grade 12.

What is K-12 education?

US public education is free and usually runs from kindergarten to grade 12, named K–12 Education.

For all children in the United States, education is mandatory. The age range for school attendance varies from state to state. In some states, students can leave school with parental permission between the ages of 14 – 17. However, other students need to remain in school until age 18.

Most parents send their children either to a public or private institution. Approximately 85 percent of students attend public schools. One-tenth of the students enrolled in private schools, according to government statistics.

As they are tax-subsidized, tax burdens differ from region to region. School districts are separate from other local authorities, with administrators and budgets distinct. Often, there are mandatory tests for K–12 public school systems. Usually through a board of trustees, state colleges, and universities.

The United States spends around 3.6% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) on K–12 education and 2.6% on tertiary education, that is university level. That puts the US at a middle-high level compared to what other countries spend on education.

Private schools are generally free to determine their curriculum. Independent regional accreditation authorities and states regulate them.

Pre to Primary School

The child’s education in the USA usually lasts from 5 to 6 years. The preschool is known as a Kindergarten school.
Private organizations run the majority of these schools. These schools are optional.
Primary education for students generally starts at 6 to 7 years old. This stage is also known as Elementary School. And in many areas, provided free of cost by the government. Elementary school starts or begins from the first grade to the fifth grade.

Secondary School

Secondary school begins in Middle School or Junior High school. Middle school starts from the sixth grade to the eighth grade. It usually begins from eleven years old to twelve years old and lasts for three years. This type of Secondary School education is also free of charge in the United States.

High School is the most necessary part of education. It decides the phase for a student to choose the career they want. High school usually starts at fourteen or fifteen years old and ends at around eighteen. High schools allow students to choose their core subjects.
The senior high school here often belongs to graduation or college. This stage makes students study their respective subjects in colleges or universities. Also, students can lead to masters after completing college or university.

Countries with the best educational systems

Below is a list of countries with the best educational systems.

  • Sweden
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Canada
  • Norway
  • Finland
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Netherlands
  • Switzerland
  • Japan
  • Belgium
  • France
  • New Zealand
  • United States of America
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • South Korea
  • Luxembourg
  • Ireland
  • Singapore

The cover image is somewhere in Boston, United States. Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Source: US News – Most Well-Developed Public Education Systems, Research.com – US Public Education Spending Statistics for 2022, TechTarget – K-12


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