american school and education in united states.


Education in the United States is mainly provided by the public sector, with control and funding coming from three levels: local, state, and federal, in that order. Child education is compulsory, and there are also a large number and wide variety of higher education institutions throughout the country that one can choose to attend, both publicly and privately administered.

The ages for compulsory education vary by state. It begins from ages five to eight and ends from ages fourteen to eighteen. Compulsory education requirements can generally be satisfied by educating children in public schools, state-certified private schools, or an approved home school program. In most public and private schools, education is divided into three levels: elementary school, middle school (sometimes called junior high school), and high school (sometimes referred to as secondary education).


The American educational system comprises 12 grades of study over 12 calendar years of primary and secondary education before graduating, and often becoming eligible for admission to higher education. After pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, there are five years in primary school (normally known as elementary school). After completing five grades, the student will enter junior high or middle school and then high school to get the high school diploma.

The U.S. uses ordinal numbers (e.g., first grade) for identifying grades. Typical ages and grade groupings in public and private schools may be found through the U.S. Department of Education. Generally, elementary school (k-5), middle school (6-8), and high school (9-12). However there are a rising number of variations the most popular being elementary (k-6), middle (7-8), and high school (9-12). Many different variations exist across the country.

Nursery school

Playgroup 1-2

Playgroup 2-3

Preschool 3-4

Pre-kindergarten 4-5

Elementary school

Kindergarden 5-6

1st Grade 6-7

2nd Grade 7-8

3rd Grade 8-9

4th Grade 9-10

5th Grade 10-11

Middle school

6th Grade 11-12

7th Grade 12-13

8th Grade 13-14

High school

9th Grade (Freshman) 14-15

10th Grade (Sophomore) 15-16

11th Grade (Junior) 16-17

12th Grade (Senior) 17-18

Post-secondary education

Tertiary education (College or University) Ages vary, but often 18–22
(Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior years)

Vocational education Ages vary

Graduate education Ages vary

Adult education Ages vary


In schools in the United States children are constantly assessed throughout the school year by their teachers, and report cards are issued to parents at varying intervals. Generally the scores for individual assignments and tests are recorded for each student in a grade book, along with the maximum number of points for each assignment. At any time, the total number of points for a student when divided by the total number of possible points produces a percent grade, which can be translated to a letter grade.

Letter grades are often but not always used on report cards at the end of a marking period, although the current grade may be available at other times (particularly when an electronic grade book connected to an online service is in use). Although grading scales usually differ from school to school, the most common grade scale is letter grades—"A" through "F"—derived from a scale of 0–100 or a percentile. In some areas, Texas or Virginia for example, the "D" grade (or that between 70–60) is considered a failing grade. In other jurisdictions, such as hawaii, a "D" grade is considered passing in certain classes, and failing in others.


A school bus is a type of bus designed and manufactured for student transport: carrying children to and from school and school events. Although, outside North America it can quite often refer to an ordinary bus being used on a school service or an older bus or coach that was originally designed as an ordinary bus or coach but has been refitted to become a designated school bus.

The first school bus was horse-drawn, introduced in 1827 by George Shillibeer for Newington Academy for Girls, a Quaker school in Stoke Newington, north-east of London (UK), and was designed to carry 25 children.

The primary vehicle used for student transport in North America, school buses are distinguished from other types of buses by design characteristics necessitated by federal and state/provincial regulations. Federal safety standards recommend school buses to be painted school bus yellow and equipped with specific warning and safety devices. This service is almost always provided without charge to families. In other parts of the world, the term "school bus" refers more to the destination of the bus and its student passengers than the specific vehicle designed for that purpose; the vehicles used for student transport are more closely related to other types of buses than their North American counterparts.

In the United States, school buses provide an estimated 10 billion student trips every year. Every school day, over 480,000 school buses transport 26 million children to and from schools and school-related activities; over half of the country's student population is transported by school bus. School buses are leased or purchased by school districts, while other school districts use school bus contractors to transport students. In the United States, approximately 40% of school districts use contractors to handle student transportation; in Canada, they are used almost universally.

Produced by: Cecilia Guarnieri.