We have Elementary School, which goes from Kindergarten up through the 5th (or sometimes 6th) Grade. Kindergarteners are ages 5 and 6. After Kindergarten is finished, the kids graduate to the 1st grade. 1st Graders are ages 6 to 7, and so on do they graduate up to ages 11 or 12. Each grade level has a classroom or classrooms only full of students at that same grade level, though all of these different classrooms occupy a single large school.
Next is "Middle School", sometimes called "Junior High". The same basic system exists, except that the children now all have many classrooms for each school subject. There is a 7th and 8th Grade, though sometimes 6th grade is included in Middle School. (The system varies and is not perfectly defined. Middle School may refer only to the 6th Grade in some cases, while 7th and 8th Grades are called Junior High)
Finally, we have High School; grades 9 through 12 (also known as freshman, sophomore, Junior, and Senior). The age range goes from 14 to 18, which corresponds to each grade in most cases. When the 18-year-old senior completes their mandatory coursework, they receive a state-certified diploma. During their junior and senior years, students can take the SAT exam or the American College Testing exam to see how they rate on their ability to read, write, and do math. Colleges base a student's applicability for acceptance on these exams plus their grade point average in high school.
The general emphasis is on working hard, as opposed to being learned or intelligent. Doing large amounts of homework and studying for exams are the keys to succeeding. The children develop goal-oriented learning, whereby they know they must learn something only for the purpose of achieving some specific goal. Abstract, imaginative, or intellectual curiousity are not encouraged and children who do not do their work are branded as failures.