Primary Education

by Wally Tirado, ICC RAS


In the United States, “primary education” typically describes the first six years of formal education. The National Center for Education Statistics estimates there are over 67,000 primary schools (also referred to as elementary or grade schools) serving almost 3.5 million students. Arguably, schools have more impact on their occupants and the functions of the building than any other building type.

As a building type, primary schools typically educate students ages 5 through 14 or kindergarten through eighth grade. However, larger urban areas often separate grades six through eight in a middle school or junior high school. Preschool education has recently begun to be offered in primary schools. Preschools, which are usually not mandated by law, typically are much less formal and are not considered part of primary education in general.

Historically, the education of children with disabilities was characterized by mistreatment and neglect. Where programs and facilities did exist to serve disabled children, they tended to be separate facilities. “Handicapped” schools were thought to be better suited to children with disabilities.

When public schools began to open to disabled children, these schools were not prepared to educate students with disabilities. Additionally, no one could have anticipated the advancement of medicine that has significantly increased the number of children who survive with serious medical conditions ...

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