In the USA, the education is primarily the responsibility of state and local government. Each state has its own curriculum, structure of education, subjects offered, textbooks and extracurricular activities.

Education is compulsory for children aged 5/6/7 to 16/17/18 y.o., depending on the state, but the school education does not end until the age of 18, or completion of 12 school years. In all states, the High School Diploma is awarded upon completion of high school studies and meeting the graduation conditions set by each state. 

There are different patterns after which the education is structured, depending on the state:

  • 5+3+4: Elementary School (K÷5), Middle School (6÷8), High School (9÷12);
  • 6+3+3: Elementary School (K÷6), Middle School (7÷9), Senior High School (9÷12);
  • 8+4: Elementary School (K÷8), High School (9÷12);
  • 6+6: Elementary School (K÷6), and Middle and High School combined (7÷12).

The grading scale is from A to F, where A = 90 ÷ 100, B = 80 ÷ 89.9, C = 70 ÷ 79.9, D = 60 ÷ 69.9 and F = 0 ÷ 59.9.

Education in USA scheme

In the Elementary School, children study the basic subjects. 

The curriculum varies across USA, but lessons include: English, Mathematics, Sciences, Social Sciences, Arts and Physical Education. Learning standards are identified for all areas of a curriculum by each state.

In Middle School students are allowed to choose some of their subjects (electives) to be studied besides the mandatory subjects.

The mandatory subjects must be studied for a specific number of years or terms, as decided by each state. These core subjects generally include English, Mathematics, Sciences, Health and Physical Education, Foreign Languages and Social Studies or Social Sciences.

In High School, students have a greater variety of subjects. The mandatory subjects must be studied for a specific number of years or terms, as decided by each state. Students may choose additional subjects (“electives”), to complete their required hours of learning and have the flexibility to choose the level at which they study each subject.

Many schools allow qualified students to participate in Honors classes (more challenging curriculum), International Baccalaureate courses or the Advanced Placement (AP) programme. This programme allows students to take college level introductory courses in selected subjects. The AP exams are sat at the end of an academic year.