K–12 (education)

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K–12 (spoken as "k twelve", "k through twelve", or "k to twelve") is a designation for the sum of primary and secondary education. It is used in the United States, Canada, Turkey, the Philippines, and Australia. P–12 is also occasionally used in Australia.[1] The expression is a shortening of kindergarten (K) for 4- to 6-year-olds through twelfth grade (12) for 17- to 19-year-olds, the first and last grades of free education in these countries, respectively.


The Term is often used in school website URLs, generally appearing before the country code top-level domain (or in the United States, the state top-level domain). The term "PK–12" is sometimes used to add pre-kindergarten.

It is also used by American multinationals selling into the educational sector, such as Dell where UK customers are presented with this as a market segment choice.[2]


In Australia P–12 is sometimes used in place of K–12, particularly in Queensland, where it is used as an official term in the curriculum framework.[3] P–12 schools serve children for the thirteen years from prep until Year 12,[4] without including the separate kindergarten component. In Canada (Nova Scotia) P–12 is used commonly in place of K–12 and serves students from grade Primary through 12.

K–14, K–16, K–18 and K–20[edit]

K–14 education also includes community colleges (the first two years of university). K–16 education adds a four-year undergraduate university degree. For simplicity purposes education shorthand was created to denote specific education levels of achievement. This shorthand is commonly used in articles, publications, and educational legislations. The following list contains the most commonly found shorthand descriptors:

  • P–14: Pre-School to Two-Year Degree
  • P–16: Pre-School to Four-Year Degree
  • P–18: Pre-School to Masters Degree
  • P–20: Pre-School to Graduate Degree
  • K–14: Kindergarten to Two-Year Degree
  • K–16: Kindergarten to Four-Year Degree
  • K–18: Kindergarten to Masters Degree
  • K–20: Kindergarten to Graduate Degree

The Career Technical Education (CTE) Unit of the California Community College Economic Development and Workforce Preparation Division focuses on program coordination and advocacy, policy development and coordination with K–18 workforce preparation and career and technical education systems.[5]

The ASCCC Chancellor's Office Career Technical Education (CTE) Unit of the Economic Development and Workforce Preparation Division focuses on program coordination and advocacy, policy development and coordination with K–18 workforce preparation and career and technical education systems. Responsible for the implementation of the Vocational and Technical Education Act (VTEA), managing and coordinating activities that impact other interagency and intra-agency objectives. In addition, the CTE Unit is also responsible for the development, dissemination, and implementation of the California State Plan and the annual performance reports.[6]

The following link is a table that defines the education system in the United States. The table shows the progression of the education system starting with the basic K–12 system then progressing through post-secondary education. K–14 refers to K–12 plus two years of post-secondary where training was received from vocational technical institutions or community or junior colleges. The K numbers refer to the years of educational attainment and continues to progress upward accordingly depending on the degree being sought.[7]

Further reference to K–18 education can be found in this publication by Ann Diver-Stamnes and Linda Catelli[8] in chapter 4 "College/University Partnership Projects for Instituting Change and Improvement in K–18 Education".

K USA (age) Quebec, Canada (age) Canada (age) Philippines (age) Kazakhstan Italy France Netherlands Poland Serbia
K1 Kindergarten (5) Kindergarten (5) Kindergarten (5) Kindergarten (5 to 6) Kindergarten (5 to 6) Scuola dell'infanzia (3 to 6) Ecole Maternelle Basisschool (4 to 5), kindergarten-like Zerówka (5 to 6) Preschool "1y." (5+)
K2–K6 Primary School (6 to 11) Primary School (6 to 12) Primary School (6 to 11) Elementary School (6 to 12) Primary School (5/6 to 10/11) Scuola primaria (elementare) (6 to 11) Ecole Primaire Basisschool (6 to 12) Szkoła Podstawowa (6–13) Primary school - I cycle "4y." (6,5 to 11)
K7–K10 Junior High (11 to 13) High School (13 to 17) Junior High (11 to 13) Junior High (12 to 16) Incomplete Secondary School (10/11 to 15/16) Scuola secondaria di primo grado (media) K7–K9 (11 to 14) Collège Secondary 3 levels: VMBO (13 to 15/16), HAVO (13 to 17), VWO (13 to 18) Gimnazjum (14 to 16) Primary school - II cycle "4y." (11 to 15)
K11–K14 Senior High (14 to 19) Pre-universities (17+) Senior High (14 to 19) High School (15 to 18) Scuola secondaria di secondo grado (superiore) K10–K14 (14 to 19) Lycée Secondary: VMBO (13 to 15/16), HAVO (13 to 17), VWO (13 to 18) Liceum/Technikum (17–19) High school / Gimnazjum "4y." (14 to 18)
K11–K12 Senior High (16 to 18) Secondary Specialized Schools (15+) Liceo Lycée Secondary: HAVO (13 to 17), VWO (13 to 18), Tertiary: MBO (16/17 to 19)
K15–K18 Community College (19+) Technical schools (17+) Community College (19+)  ? Università (19+) Lycée hbo (18+ )
K18 Universities (19+) Universities (19+) Universities (19+)  ? Universities (18+) Dottorato/Master K18–K20 (22+) Université HBO (Professional Masters, 17+), Universiteit (Doctoraal/Masters, 18+) Universities (18+)
K20 Example? Example? not applicable Doctorate Example? Doctorat Doctoraat / Promotie

See also[edit]