Elementary School

An elementary school is the main point of delivery of primary education in the United States, for children between the ages of 4–11 and coming between pre-kindergarten and secondary education.

Authority to regulate education resides constitutionally with the individual states, with direct authority of the U.S. Congress and the federal U.S. Department of Education being limited to regulation and enforcement of federal constitutional rights. Great indirect authority is, however, exercised through federal funding of national programs and block grants although there is no obligation upon any state to accept these funds. The U.S. government may also propose, but cannot enforce national goals, objectives and standards, which generally lie beyond its jurisdiction.

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Most states have predetermined the number of minutes that will be taught within a given content area. Because the No Child Left Behind Act focuses on reading and math as primary targets for improvement, other instructional areas have received less attention.

Learning Standards are the goals by which states and school districts must meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) as mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). This description of school governance is simplistic at best, however, and school systems vary widely not only in the way curricular decisions are made but also in how teaching and learning take place. Some states and/or school districts impose more top-down mandates than others. In others, teachers play a significant role in curriculum design and there are few top-down mandates. Curricular decisions within private schools are made differently from those made in public schools, and in most cases without consideration of NCLB directives.

At times, an individual school district identifies areas of need within the curriculum. Teachers and advisory administrators form committees to develop supplemental materials to support learning for diverse learners and to identify enrichment for textbooks. Many school districts post information about the curriculum and supplemental materials on websites for public access.

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