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I've just been reading the summary of a study relating to school, and one of the graphs has "K-12" in the title.  I guess this is something to do with years in school, but what ages exactly does it correspond to?  I assume "K" is Kindergarten, which is what, 3 years old?  Our (England) Year 12 is age 17, but that seems an arbitrary point to study up to when I think in the US you finish school at 18, so are your years numbered differently or am I just confused?

Just Lori:
Kindergarten is typically for age 5.  We then switch to grades, starting at 1 and working up to 12.  Our 12th graders are in the 17- to 18-year-old range.  I hope this makes sense!

K does mean kindergarten.  Most kids start when they are 5 (or on the verge of turning 5, depending on where you live).  Anything before that is Pre-K or pre-school.  Students finish up 13 years later so at ~age 18. 

So you don't have to sit and count out the grades and ages for the average student:
- start Kindergarten at age 5 (in my area elementary school was K-6)
- start of junior high/middle school (grades 7 and 8 )  at age 12
- start of high school (grades 9-12) at age 14
- start grade 12 at age 17 but usually turn 18 before graduating

Keep in mind that while the ages/grades are fairly consistent across the country, the actual grades that are together vary by region (for example, some middle schools are 7 & 8, some are 6-8, some are 6-9).

Thank you both!

Ah, so Kindergarten there is like our Reception class, the very first class in proper school kids go into?  Whenever I've seen it over here (England) it's been in private schools (our state schools don't have Kindergarten) and it's been from about age 3 (after nursery) until 4, when they start Reception.  We'd generally be 5 when we went into Year 1 (although compulsory school age isn't until the September after a child's fifth birthday I believe, so they don't need to start Reception until then but most start at 4), so that explains why our schools go up to age 18 and Year 13 and yours are Year 12 and age 18!  I was wondering where the missing year went...

The first school that kids go to over here is generally preschool/nursery school/prekindergarten (called different things in different places).  Generally, kids go to preschool for two years, when they are 3-turning-4 and when they are 4-turning-5.  Preschool is not compulsory, and for most of the country it is a private school thing that can be anywhere from $1000 (if you live in an inexpensive part of the country) to $5000 or probably even more a year.  Most kids that are going into the school system go to preschool.  Some kids may be eligible for public preschool or some sort of free preschool, depending on what the local area offers.

Whether kindergarten is compulsory depends on where you live.  Some states have a compulsory school age of 5, some of 6.  In my area, the compulsory school age is 6... however, you have to go to kindergarten before you can start 1st grade, unless you go through some rigamarole to show that you are prepared for school (a test, etc.).

Oh, and school age cut-offs can be anywhere from September to December (maybe even earlier than September in some areas).  So sometimes you don't have to have turned 5 before kindergarten, which would mean that you are still 17 at graduating and might even start college before turning 18.


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