In the American education system, often used synonymously with elementary school, prior to the mid 1980's, grade school spanned first grade through sixth grade. After attending grade school/elementary school, a student when then attend junior high, or middle school for seventh grade through ninth grade. Tenth grade through twelve grade were covered in high school.

Beginning in the eighties, many school systems began changing this system, and most have adopted one of the following separation of grades:

  • 1-6 / 7-9 / 10-12 (original)
  • 1-5 / 6-8 / 9-12
  • 1-8 / 9-12
There is still much debate over the grouping of these ages, especially where junior high has been absorbed into elementary school. The normal age range for a grade is five and a half to six and a half years older than the grade; people who skip grades may be a year or two younger than that.

The last division lumps 6 year olds with 14 year olds in grade school, and 13 year olds with 18 year olds in high school; this later grouping has raised eyebrows among some child psychologists.

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