Education in the United States is provided by public schools and private schools.
Public education is universally required from kindergarten through 12th grade (often abbreviated K-12), and is available at state colleges and universities for all students. Public school curricula, budgets, and policies for K-12 schooling are set through locally elected school boards, who have jurisdiction over individual school districts. State governments set overall educational standards, often mandate standardized tests for K–12 public school systems, and supervise, usually through a board of regents, state colleges and universities. Funding comes from the state, local, and federal government.
Private schools are generally free to determine their own curriculum and staffing policies, with voluntary accreditation available through independent regional accreditation authorities. About 87% of school-age children attend public schools, about 10% attend private schools, and roughly 3% are home-schooled.
Education is compulsory over an age range starting between five and eight and ending somewhere between ages sixteen and eighteen, depending on the state. This requirement can be satisfied in public schools, state-certified private schools, or an approved home school program. In most schools, education is divided into three levels: elementary school, middle or junior high school, and high school. Children are usually divided by age groups into grades, ranging from kindergarten and first grade for the youngest children, up to twelfth grade as the final year of high school.
There are also a large number and wide variety of publicly and privately administered institutions of higher education throughout the country. Post-secondary education, divided into college, as the first tertiary degree, and graduate school, is described in a separate section below.
The United States spends more per student on education than any other country. In 2014, the Pearson/Economist Intelligence Unit rated US education as 14th best in the world, just behind Russia. According to a report published by the U.S. News & World Report, of the top ten colleges and universities in the world, eight are American. (The other two are Oxford and Cambridge, in the United Kingdom.)