What Is K-12 Education?

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The educational system called K-12 education refers to the combination of primary and secondary education that children receive from kindergarten until 12th grade, typically starting at ages 4-6 and continuing through ages 17-19. The K-12 educational system is used in the United States as well as several other countries in the world including Canada, Australia, Turkey and the Philippines. Although the K-12 curriculum varies among states and between nations, the concept of providing students with fundamental knowledge at no cost is universal.

In the U.S., kindergarten is the starting point of the nationally-organized educational campaign. Students in every state in the country attend kindergarten, generally between the ages of 4 and 6. There, they develop fundamental skills in core academic areas, such as reading, writing and math. These skills are further honed and advanced as children work their way through the educational system, eventually ending after the 12th grade, which is the last year of high school. In the U.S., students are entitled to a free education from kindergarten through 12th grade. Some students enroll in K-12 education in private schools while others attend public schools. Regardless of location, the U.S. government establishes four key objectives for learning, which are to prepare students for college and work, advance their skills, utilize data systems and improve lowest-achieving schools.