is characterized by division: education is oriented toward the needs and background of the pupil. Education is divided over schools for different age groups, some of which are divided in streams for different educational levels. Schools are furthermore divided in public, special (religious), and general-special (neutral) schools, although there are also a few private schools. The Dutch grading scale runs from 1 (very poor) to 10 (outstanding).
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), coordinated by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), ranks the education in the Netherlands as the 9th best in the world as of 2008, being significantly higher than the OECD average.
As of January 2015, the International Schools Consultancy (ISC) listed the Netherlands as having 152 international schools. ISC defines an 'international school' in the following terms "ISC includes an international school if the school delivers a curriculum to any combination of pre-school, primary or secondary students, wholly or partly in English outside an English-speaking country, or if a school in a country where English is one of the official languages, offers an English-medium curriculum other than the country’s national curriculum and is international in its orientation." This definition is used by publications including The Economist.
In general, all schools in the Netherlands observe a summer holiday, and several weeks of one or two-week holidays during the year. Also schools are closed during public holidays. Academic terms only exist at the tertiary education level. Institutions are free to divide their year, but it is most commonly organized into four quadmesters.
The summer holiday lasts six weeks in elementary school, and starts and ends in different weeks for the northern, middle and southern provinces to prevent families from all going on vacation simultaneously. For the six-week summer holidays of all high schools, the same system applies. Universities have longer holidays (about 2 months, but this may include re-examinations) and usually start the year in late August or early September. The summer holiday is followed by a one-week autumn holiday in the second half of October at all levels except for most research universities. At elementary and high school levels, the week depends on the north/middle/south division also used around the summer holidays. There is a two-week Christmas holiday that includes New Year's in the second half of December, and a one-week spring holiday in the second half of February (around Carnival). The last school holiday of the year is a one- or two-week May holiday around 27 April (Kings Day); sometimes including Ascension Day. Easter does not have a week of holiday, schools are only closed on Good Friday and Easter Monday. The summer holiday dates are compulsory, the other dates are government recommendations and can be changed by each school, as long as the right number of weeks is observed.