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How does my child's school operate, and what are the rules?

Every school district and school operates differently. To learn how your child's school functions, you should contact the school to obtain a printed copy of each of the following:

  • Discipline code. The discipline code outlines the rules of the school. It details how children are expected to act and the consequences of unacceptable behavior.

  • School calendar. The school calendar will outline important events at the school as well as vacation and testing schedules.

  • School bell schedule. The school bell schedule details the class, break, and lunch times of your child's school.

  • School handbook. Generally, each school publishes its own handbook that contains the school bell schedule, school calendar, discipline code, attendance guidelines, a list of school staff, contact names and numbers, as well as other important school-specific information.

California state law provides guidelines for schools to follow. Here are some of the general guidelines that affect how your child's school operates:

Average School Calendar

State law requires that schools provide at least 175 days of instruction and are in session for a minimum number of hours as designated for each grade level. On average, students attend school 180 days, for approximately 6.5 hours a day. Local school districts determine their school calendar. Most schools operate on a calendar year that begins in August and ends in June. Students are allowed vacation breaks due to national, state, local, and school holidays and events.

Minimum School-Age Requirements

In California, state law requires that all children between the ages of 6 and 17 years old attend school. The only exception is for 16- and 17-year-old students who have graduated from high school or who have passed the California High School Proficiency Exam. Students under the age of 16 must attend school on a full-time basis.

Standards-Based Education

Both the United States and the California educational school system are based on standards. The California State Board of Education develops state academic content standards that outline what students will be taught as well as what they will learn and be tested on. There are four major content areas in which standards are set: English/Language Arts, Mathematics, History/Social Science, and Science. For more information on content standards for California public schools, visit the California Department of Education website:

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