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Definition

K-12

What is K-12?

K-12, a term used in education and educational technology in the United States, Canada and some other countries, is a short form for the publicly supported school grades prior to college.

These grades are kindergarten (K) and first through 12th grade (1-12). (If the term were used, 13th grade would be the first year of college.)

What are the different levels of K-12?

K-12 schools are usually divided into three levels:

  1. elementary school (grades K-5);
  2. middle school or junior high school (grades 6-8); and
  3. high school (grades 9-12).

In some instances, these three groups are kept separate; in others, elementary and middle school are grouped together, but high school is kept separate. In other cases, all levels are held together on the same campus.

What are the benefits of K-12 education?

K-12 education is the foundation of a student's academic career. It provides the basic knowledge and skills necessary for success in college and the workplace.

K-12 education also plays an important role in developing responsible citizens and preparing young people for the challenges of adulthood.

Benefits of a K-12 education include the following:

  • academic preparation for college and the workforce;
  • social and emotional development;
  • exposure to different cultures and perspectives; and
  • opportunities for physical activity and extracurricular involvement.

Is K-12 private or publicly funded?

K-12 education is free in the U.S., with most schools being public (state-funded) schools, and is mandatory in the U.S. until age 16 or 18, depending on the state.

However, there are also a number of private K-12 schools, which are supported by tuition payments and other private sources of funding.

What subjects are studied in K-12?

K-12 education covers a wide range of topics, including the following:

  • language arts (reading, writing and comprehension);
  • mathematics;
  • science;
  • social studies;
  • history;
  • art;
  • music;
  • physical education; and
  • foreign languages.

What types of assignments are given to K-12 students?

Assignments at the K-12 level can vary greatly, depending on the age and level of the students.

They can range from simple tasks, such as math problems or reading comprehension exercises, to more complex projects, such as research papers or presentations.

In general, assignments are designed to assess a student's understanding of the material covered in class and their ability to apply it to real-world situations.

What types of assessments are given in K-12?

Like assignments, assessments at the K-12 level can vary greatly. They can be formal, such as standardized tests, or informal, such as class participation or homework completion.

Assessments are typically used to measure a student's progress over time and to identify areas in which they may need additional support.

How do you get enrolled in K-12?

Enrollment in K-12 schools is typically done through the school district in which a family lives.

If they are moving to a new area, they may need to contact the school district office to find out what the enrollment process is. In some cases, they may be able to enroll their child in a K-12 school online.

Are there any alternatives to K-12 education?

There are a number of alternatives to K-12 education, including the following:

  • home schooling
  • private schools
  • charter schools
  • online schools

Each of these options has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to do your research before making a decision.

This was last updated in October 2022

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