Elementary School

Elementary school includes primary school (the preparatory school year and the next 4 grades of primary school) and then four more grades (grades 5-8 of gymnasium). Most elementary schools are public; the Ministry of Education's statistics show less than 2% of elementary school students attend private school. Unless parents choose a school earlier, the future student is automatically enrolled in the school nearest to his or her residence. Some schools that have a good reputation are flooded with demands from parents even two or three years in advance. A negative consequence of this is that in many schools classes are held in two shifts lasting from as early as 7 a.m. to as late as 8 p.m. Education is free in public schools (including some books and auxiliary materials), but not entirely (some textbooks, notebooks, pencils and uniforms might be required to be purchased).

School starts in the middle of September and ends in the middle of June the following year. It is divided into two semesters (September to December and January to June). There are four holiday seasons (Christmas - 3 or 2 depending on the annual curriculum weeks in December-January; spring (previously Easter) in April - 2 weeks; and summer, spanning from the middle of June to September 15), with an additional free week in November for students in the first 4 years. Additionally, during the week before the spring holiday, special activities (e.g. trips, contests) replace classes. This week is known as săptămâna altfel.

A class (clasă) can have up to 30 students (25 is considered optimum), and there can be as few as one class per grade or as many as twenty classes per grade. Usually each group has its own classroom. Each group has its own designation, usually the grade followed by a letter of the alphabet (for example, VII A means that the student is in the 7th grade in the 'A' class).

Grading conventions
For the first four years a system similar to E-S-N-U is used, known as calificative. These are Foarte bine (FB) - Excellent, Bine (B) - Good, Satisfăcător/Suficient (S) - Satisfactory, actually meaning (barely) passing, Nesatisfăcător/Insuficient (N/I) - Failed. Students who get an N/I must take an exam in the summer with a special assembly of teachers, and if the situation is not improved, the student will repeat the whole year. The "qualifiers" (calificative) are given throughout the year, in a system of year-long assessment, on tests, schoolwork, homework or projects. The average for a subject (that will go in the mark register) is calculated by the teacher taking into account the progress of the student and by using a 1-4 value for each qualifier (for example, if a student has FB, FB, B, B in Mathematics, then the mark will be (4 + 4 + 3 + 3) : 4 = 3.5, therefore B - taking into account that the performance of the student has lowered over time a B, B, FB, FB will also be 3.5 but will be marked as FB because the performance has improved over time). There is no average calculated for the whole year, but only per subject per semester.

For grades fifth to twelfth, a 1 to 10 grading system is used with 10 being the best, 1 being the worst and 5 being the minimum passing grade. The system of continuous assessment is also used, with individual marks for each test, oral examination, project, homework or classwork being entered in the register (these individual marks are known as note). There must be at least as many note for a subject as the number of weekly classes for that subject plus one. Some subjects also require a partial examination at the end of the semester (teză). This requirement is however regulated by the Ministry as mandatory. The partial is valued at 25% of the final mark, and for grades 5 to 8 it applies to Romanian Language and Mathematics and only in the eight year, Geography or History, and in the case of a bilingual school or one with teaching in a minority language, that particular language. At the end of each semester, an average is computed following a four-step procedure: first, all marks are added and an arithmetical average is computed from those marks. If there is a thesis, this average, with 0.01 precision, is multiplied by 3, the mark at the teză (rounded to the nearest integer) is added, then everything is divided by 4. This average (with or without teză) is then rounded to the closest integer (5/4 system - thus 9.5 is 10) and forms the semester average per subject. The next step is computing the yearly average per subject. This is done by adding the two semester averages per subject and divided by 2. This is not rounded. The last step is adding all the yearly averages per subject and dividing that amount by the total number of subjects. This forms the yearly grade average (media generală). This is neither weighted nor rounded. If the yearly average per subject is below 5 for a maximum of two subjects, then the student must take a special exam (corigență) at the failed subject in August, in front of a school board. If he fails this exam, he must repeat the entire year (repetenție). If the yearly average per subject is below 5 for three subjects or more, the student is no longer entitled to the special exam and must repeat the year.
Example: A student in the 7th year with 4 weekly classes of math may have the following marks: 6, 6, 7, 7 in class and 5 in semester paper. His semester average for math is round ((3 · ((6 + 6 + 7 + 7) : 4) + 5) : 4) = 6. If he had 7 in the other semester, his annual average for math is 6.5 (and he passes).

Primary school
The "preparatory school year" became compulsory in 2012, and is a requirement in order to enter the first grade. According to Article 23 of the Education law no 1/2011 (Legea Educației Naționale nr.1/2011) the preparatory class is part of the primary school and is compulsory. Primary school classes are taught by a single teacher (învățător) for the most subjects. Additional teachers are assigned only for a few specialized subjects (Foreign Languages, Introduction to Computers, etc.). At the end of primary school, curriculum is diversified. For instance, a 4th grade student (10-11 years of age) may have on a weekly basis:
4 classes of Math;
4-5 classes of Romanian Language and Literature;
1 class of History;
1 class of Geography;
1-2 classes of Science;
2 classes of Art (Painting and Handcrafting);
1-3 classes of a foreign language (usually French, English or German);
1-2 classes of Introduction to Computers‡;
1 class of Civic Education (a subject teaching everything from personal hygiene to the Constitution and manners in society);
1 class of Religion† (optional; following a 2014 decision of the Constitutional Court of Romania parents (or legal guardians) of students (or students over 18) who want to study religion must submit an application for this class. Before 2014, all students were enrolled automatically, unless their parents opted-out, with pressure to attend being high.)
1 class of Music Education;
2 classes of Physical Education.
1 class of an optional subject (without calificative)
† These subjects may or may not have teachers other than the main teacher.
‡ These subjects almost always have teachers other than the main teacher.

Classes are reshaped at the end of the 4th grade, often based on academic performances. Many schools have special classes (such as intensive English classes or Informatics classes, providing one or two more courses in these subjects). Selection for such classes is done based on local tests. Assessing the students' performance is also different between primary and gymnasium cycles. Starting with the 5th grade, students have a different teacher (profesor) for each subject. Furthermore, each class has a teacher designated to be class principal (diriginte), besides teaching his or hers usual subject. Additional counseling may be provided by a special counselor (consilier pe probleme de educație - counselor on educational issues) or by a school psychologist.
An 8th grade schedule may contain up to 30-32 hours weekly, or 6 hours daily, thus making it quite intensive, for instance:
4 classes of Math (algebra and geometry);
4 (5 in the 5th grade) classes of Romanian Language and Literature;
2 (1 in the 5th, 6th and 7th grades) classes of History;
2 (1 in the 5th, 6th and 7th grades) classes of Geography;
2 (1 in the 5th and 8th grades) classes of Biology;
1 class of Introduction to Computers (optional);
2 classes of a main foreign language, usually English;
2 classes of a second foreign language, usually French or German;
2 classes of Physics (not in the 5th grade);
2 classes of Chemistry (not in the 5th and 6th grade);
1 (only in the 8th grade) class of Latin Language;
1 class of Art and Music;
1 class of Religion (optional; same situation like in primary school regarding teachers);
1 (only in the 7th and 8th grades) class of Civic Education;
1 class of Technological Education;
2 (1 in the 8th grade) classes of Physical Education.
In addition, schools may add 1 or 2 subjects at their free choice. This possibility gave rise to Intensive English Classes or Informatics Groups, accessible only by special exams in the 5th grade.

Curriculum in elementary schools
There are up to 15 compulsory subjects (usually 8-13) and up to 5 optional subjects (usually 1 or 2). However, unlike in the United Kingdom or France, these optional subjects are chosen by the school and imposed on the student - they are known as School Decided Curriculum (Curriculum la Decizia Școlii - CDȘ) and are usually extensions to the compulsory subjects.
For the duration of the elementary school, each student must take:
8 years of mathematics, Romanian, music, art and physical education;
up to 8 years of religion (usually Eastern Orthodox; some other religions or denominations also accepted, optional);
5 years of geography and history;
6 years in the first foreign language (usually French, English or German);
4 years in the second foreign language (usually English, French, German, very seldom Spanish, Italian, Russian or Portuguese);
4 years of civic education;
2 years of science (if we don't include Environmental Knowledge which is 2 years);
4 years of biology;
3 years of physics;
2 years of chemistry;
1 year of Latin language;
4 years of IT (optionally)