BOX 1-1

China-U.S. K–12 Educational Levels Comparison


United States

Primary education and elementary school start at the age of 6 and last 6 years.

Secondary education consists of 3 years of middle school and 3 years of high school.

Mandatory education requires 9 years of education starting at the age of 6.

Primary education and elementary school consist of 5–6 years.

Secondary education consists of 2–3 years for middle school and 4 years for high school.

Mandatory education starting age and length varies by state.

activities. However, many students participate in after-school activities to prepare for tests, including the entrance exam to universities, which students can take just a single time (unlike the SAT Reasoning Test and ACT, which can be taken multiple times in the United States). Text messaging has become a popular way for teachers and administrators in China to communicate with parents about homework or school notices.

Many elementary school students learn mathematics from a specialized mathematics teacher, but that is not universal. In grades 1 and 2, the mathematics teacher may also teach Chinese literacy. In some places, mathematics teachers also teach science, though science is not a prominent part of the curriculum in Chinese elementary schools. In schools in rural or remote areas, an elementary teacher in China may teach all subjects, as is often the case in similar situations in the United States. Nevertheless, mathematics specialist teachers in elementary schools are common in China and less common in the United States.

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