The Additional Years in Basic Education

The thirteen years of basic education in the United States are quite different in scope, purpose and history compared to the Philippines' DepEd K to 12. First and foremost is the fact that public school education in the US remains largely a local responsibility. Public school education is the largest expenditure of most city and county governments. School districts are administered by local education boards, which in most counties are elected by their communities. Each state has its own board of education that oversees the local school districts. The state board sets standards for students and teachers, approves curriculum, and reviews learning resources such as textbooks. The federal government provides only research and support to ensure equal access to education. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 specifically forbids the national government from establishing a national curriculum. Support from the national government covers about only ten percent of the schools' expenses thus it is correct to state that most of public school education is shouldered by the state and local governments. Funding for public schools therefore comes mainly from local property taxes, the main revenue source of local governments. Another major difference is the reason behind the additional two years of basic education. The Philippines' DepEd cites that most countries provide 12 years of basic education before college. The two years DepEd adds are at the end of high school. DepEd also hopes that these two years will improve employment opportunities of high school graduates. The additional two years in US education come from a different reason. Before 1960, students could go straight to high school after finishing six years in an elementary school. Some students, however, had the option of going through what was described then as "junior high school". These were either two or three years in length. Twenty years later, in the 80's, the junior high school had been replaced widely by "middle schools". Middle schools are usually separate from high schools although some are provided in elementary school campuses. Middle schools no longer mirror high school. Instead, its curriculum is focused more on the specific needs of an adolescent. These are the "early teens" characterized by dramatic growth in physical, intellectual and social aspects. Middle schools still provide integrated courses as well as a "small group" atmosphere. (To learn more about US basic education, please read "USA Education in Brief")

How basic education aligns and matches college education remains a challenge. In the US, for some, it has become increasingly apparent that the years spent in basic education are not all necessary for higher education. The state of Washington currently has in law several options for students:

Visit Learning by Choice 2013 for more information
One of these options is called Running Start:

Running Start is a program designed for 11th and 12th grade students. Running Start allows eligible students to enroll in college-level (100 or higher) courses or programs in a community college, technical college, select four-year universities (currently Central WashingtonUniversity, Eastern WashingtonUniversity, Washington State University, Northwest Indian College, and Spokane Tribal College). 
Both high school and university/technical college credits may be obtained for successfully
completed courses. Evidence of successful completion of each course will be included in the student’s public high school records and transcripts.
What Running Start preserves, in addition to reducing years of schooling, is free education for the 11th and 12th years. Since enrollment in college-level courses are also considered for high school credit, students get to take these courses with no tuition. The state transfers funds from the high schools to these colleges for every student choosing the Running Start program.
Running Start Students and their families do not pay tuition, but they do pay college fees and buy their own books, as well as provide their own transportation. Students receive both high school and college credit for these classes and therefore accelerate their progress through the education system. The exercise of that right is subject only to minimal eligibility and procedural requirements, which are spelled out, in state administrative rules. See RCW 28A.600.300 for more information.
Running Start has been increasingly attractive since its inception and continues to grow each year. The following table is from the recent report of the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges:

Students in Running Start Academic Year 2005-06 to 2011-12


5-Year Change
Running Start

  % Change

Marc F. Bernstein, New York-based education consultant and Adjunct Faculty Member at Fordham University Graduate School of Education, wrote in "Is All of 12th Grade Necessary for All Students?":
With the coming of spring, so comes the rite of senioritis, that time when high school seniors do very little of an academic nature, and, as a result, often get themselves into trouble due to having too much time, accompanied by too little structure. Actually, senioritis started last year when large numbers of 12th graders scheduled themselves for late school arrivals, multiple lunch periods, and only two or three academic classes. What a huge waste of time, opportunity and money! 
I propose that during the first three months of a student's 10th grade year the student, family and school counselor create three alternative educational plans for the remainder of the student's high school career: graduation prior to 12th grade, during the middle of 12th grade and at the end of 12th grade. The specifics of each plan would depend upon the individual student: academic success to date, interest in pursuing specific extracurricular activities during 12th grade, college plans, need or desire to work prior to college, and, very importantly, the maturity to graduate high school somewhat earlier.

"The 12th year of basic education is a huge waste of time, opportunity and money...." is definitely something to think about.