Secondary education, or secondary school, is a period of education which follows directly after primary education, and which may be followed by tertiary education. One of the differences between primary and secondary education is that in secondary education, the teachers usually have to be certified by some higher authority (like a state) before they can teach. Primary and secondary education together are sometimes referred to as "K-12" education, especially in the United States.
The purpose of a secondary education can be to prepare for either higher education or vocational training. It is referred to by various different names in different countries, including high school in the United States and Australia, gymnasium in Germany, Austria and Scandinavia, or middle school in the Netherlands. It occurs mainly during the teenage years. The exact boundary between primary and secondary education varies from country to country, but is generally around the seventh to the ninth year of education.
In the United States, high school generally consists of grades 9, 10, 11 and 12, though this may vary slightly by school district. In some areas, high school starts with tenth grade; a few American high schools still cover grades 7 through 12. American students are allowed to leave high school at age 16-18, depending on the state, or when they graduate or go on to college or other education. This school-leaving age is usually in grade 10 or 11 if the standard curriculum[?] has been followed throughout life, without skipping grades or being held back. Thus, the last two years of high school are not compulsory, but most students complete high school and receive a diploma. A high school diploma or G.E.D. is generally required for entrance into a college or university, but many colleges accept a small number of students after eleventh grade.
U.S. law mandates school attendance until graduation or age 16, but enforcement of the truancy[?] laws is sporadic. Conversely, students who have failed a grade may remain in high school past the age of 18, if they have not graduated on time.
In Canada, secondary schooling differs depending on what province one resides in. Normally it follows the American pattern, however in Quebec, for instance, high school lasts five years and is started earlier and finished at a younger age than elsewhere in Canada. In Ontario high school students used to have the option of attending a fifth year of high school, but OAC or grade 13, as the fifth year is called, is in the latter stages of being phased out. In Quebec most students follow high school by attending a cegep, which is comparable to a junior college, and which is obligatory for Quebec students wishing to go on to university in Quebec.
High school in Australia is the former name for secondary schools. The name was officially changed to secondary college[?] in the early 1990s, but to the majority of the adult Australian population they are still "high schools". The exact length of secondary school varies from state to state, but the majority teach Years 7-12. It is compulsory to attend school until the age of fifteen, but most students remain at school to complete their studies and go on to college or university.
Gymnasium Gymnasium is a school of secondary education in parts of Europe. The word "γυμνασιον" (gymnasium) was used in Ancient Greece, meaning a locality for the education of young men. In the Germanic, Scandinavian and the Benelux countries gymnasium has, at least since the Reformation in the 16th century, had the meaning of a secondary school preparing for higher education, at university.