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Elementary and Secondary Education

Elementary and Secondary Education

Updated: March 24, 2010 by American Center

In the United States, children generally begin elementary school with kindergarten (K) at age five and continue through secondary school to age 18. Secondary schools (known as high schools in the United States) generally encompass grades 9 through 12. School attendance is compulsory for students through age 16 in most states.

A remarkable characteristic of American education is its decentralization. K-12 schools in the U.S. remain mostly a state and local responsibility. The U.S. does not operate a national education system, with only a few exceptions, such as the Native American schools. Public educational institutions receive the bulk of their funding from local property taxes. Local boards of education, most of which are elected, administer the nation's nearly 13,900 school districts, ranging from small rural schools in some areas to large urban school districts, many of which educate more than a million children annually.