Some may be surprised to learn that the federal government does not determine what students should know and be able to do in any subject at any level of schooling. Instead, implementing standards for students’ performance is left to state and local authorities and to some extent with parents. There are some 16,000 school districts in the United States. Each one is administered and financed by a local community and by one of 50 state departments of education. This extensive local control, one of the defining characteristics of American education, has caused school standards to correlate with the socioeconomic status of the communities in which they are located.