Education in Japan is compulsory at the elementary and lower secondary levels. Education prior to elementary school is provided at kindergartens and day-care centers. The programmes for those children aged 3—5 resemble those at kindergartens. The educational approach at kindergartens varies greatly from unstructured environments that emphasize play to highly structured environments that are focused on having the child pass the entrance exam at a private elementary school. The academic year starts from April and ends in March, having summer vacation in August and winter vacation in the end of December to the beginning of January. Japanese students consistently rank highly among OECD students in terms of quality and performance in reading literacy, mathematics, and sciences. It is one of the top-performing OECD countries in reading literacy, mathematics and sciences on Programme for International Student Assessment tests with the average student scoring The country's large pool of highly educated and skilled individuals is largely responsible for ushering Japan's post-war economic growth.
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Lower-secondary schools cover grades seven, eight, and nine. Ages are roughly with increased focus on academic studies. The minimum number of school days in a year is in Japan, compared to in the United States. A significant part of the school calendar is taken up by non-academic events such as sports days and school trips. Teachers often majored in the subjects they taught. Each class is assigned a homeroom teacher who doubles as counselor. Unlike elementary students, junior high school students have different teachers for different subjects. The subject teachers usually move to a new room for each minute period.
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