US Educational Terms Glossary (Garland Green)

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Glossary of Educational Terminology Garland found while surfing the web.

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A federal program that provides food for students from low-income families. (Ed-data)

A federal program that provides food for students from low-income families. (Ed-data)


American Association for the Advancement of Science


American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education


American Association of School Administrators

Academic Performance Index (API)

A statewide ranking of schools based on student test scores from the CAT/6, CST, and high school exit exam; it ranges from 200 to 1000. Most schools have an API, a state ranking (by elementary, middle, or high school), a ranking in comparison to 100 similar schools, and growth targets for the following year. (Ed-data)


Changes in the way tests are designed or administered to respond to the special needs of students with disabilities and English learners (EL).


The notion that people (e.g., students or teachers) or an organization (e.g., a school, school district, or state department of education) should be held responsible for improving student achievement and should be rewarded or sanctioned for their success or lack of success in doing so. (Ed Source)

Achievement Test

A test to measure a student's knowledge and skills. (Ed Source


A set of college admissions tests. Most colleges now accept either the SAT or the ACT for admissions purposes. (Ed Source)

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)

An individual state's measure of yearly progress toward achieving state academic standards. Adequate yearly progress is the minimum level of improvement that states, school districts, and schools must achieve each year, according to federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. This progress is determined by a collection of performance measures that a state, its school districts, and subpopulations of students within its schools are supposed to meet if the state receives Title I federal funding. (Ed Source)


  • An individual state's measure of yearly progress toward achieving state academic standards. Adequate yearly progress is the minimum level of improvement that states, school districts, and schools must achieve each year, according to federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. This progress is determined by a collection of performance measures that a state, its school districts, and subpopulations of students within its schools are supposed to meet if the state receives Title I federal funding.

  • Refers to the chosen curriculum of a particular school.

  • The courses of study offered by a school or district.

Advanced Placement (AP)

A series of voluntary exams based on college-level courses taken in high school. High school students who do well on one or more of these exams have the opportunity to earn credit, advanced placement, or both for college. (Ed Source)

Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID)

A four-year elective college preparatory class designed to motivate students to attend college.


Appalachia Educational Laboratory


American Educational Research Association


American Federation of Teachers


Agency for Instructional Technology


The degree to which assessments, curriculum, instruction, textbooks and other instructional materials, teacher preparation and professional development, and systems of accountability all reflect and reinforce the educational program's objectives and standards. (Ed Source)

Alternative Assessment

An assessment in which students originate a response to a task or question. Such responses could include demonstrations exhibits portfolios oral presentations or essays. (Compare to traditional assessment.)

Alternative Assessments

Ways other than standardized tests to get information about what students know and where they need help, such as oral reports, projects, performances, experiments, and class participation. (Ed Source)

Alternative Schools Accountability Model (ASAM)

An alternative way of measuring student performance in schools with mostly high-risk students—such as continuation schools or some county office of education schools—and schools with fewer than 11 valid test scores. (Ed Source)

Analytical Trait scoring

A method for assigning a summary score to a product performance or work sample based on a prior analysis that defined the key traits dimensions or characteristics possessed by the class of objects being scored. The object is scored independently against each dimension and a summary score is calculated following a set formula. The summary score may be a simple total (or average) across dimensions a weighted total or a more complex algorithm. An example might be the scoring of a piece of persuasive writing on such traits as attention to audience correct use of grammar and punctuation focus on the topic and persuasiveness of argument.

Annual Measurable Objective (AMO)

The annual target for the percentage of students whose test scores must be proficient or above in English/language arts and mathematics. Meeting the AMO is the first step toward demonstrating adequate yearly progress under the federal law No Child Left Behind (NCLB). (Ed-data)


alcohol and other drugs


Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development


Teacher-made tests, standardized tests, or tests from textbook companies that are used to evaluate student performance.


  • A term applied to students who have not been adequately served by social service or educational systems and who are at risk of educational failure due to lack of services negative life events or physical or mental challenges among others.

  • Students may be labeled at risk if they are not succeeding in school based on information gathered from test scores, attendance, or discipline problems.


Association of Teacher Educators


alcohol tobacco and other drugs

authentic assessment

An assessment presenting tasks that reflect the kind of mastery demonstrated by experts. Authentic assessment of a student s ability to solve problems for example would assess how effectively a student solves a real problem.

authentic task

School assignment that has a real-world application. Such tasks bear a strong resemblance to tasks performed in nonschool settings (such as the home an organization or the workplace) and require students to apply a broad range of knowledge and skills. Often they fill a genuine need for the students and result in a tangible end product.

Average Class Size

The number of students in classes divided by the number of classes. Because some teachers, such as reading specialists, have assignments outside the regular classroom, the average class size is usually larger than the pupil-teacher ratio. (Ed Source)

Average Daily Attendance (ADA)

The total number of days of student attendance divided by the total number of days in the regular school year. A student attending every school day would equal one ADA. Generally, ADA is lower than enrollment due to such factors as transiency, dropouts, and illness. A school district's revenue limit income is based on its ADA. (Ed-data)


Basic Aid

The minimum general-purpose aid that is guaranteed by the state's Constitution for each school district in a state. A basic aid district is one in which local property taxes equal or exceed the district's revenue limit. These districts may keep the money from local property taxes and still receive constitutionally guaranteed state funding. (Ed Source)


A theory suggesting that learning occurs when an environmental stimulus triggers a response or behavior. Based on classical conditioning theory behaviorism applies to educational practices that reward performance behaviors to encourage repetition of those behaviors. Rote memorization and drill-and-practice instruction are supported by behaviorist theory.


  • Statement that provides a description of student knowledge expected at specific grades ages or developmental levels. Benchmarks often are used in conjunction with standards. (See standards.)

  • A detailed description of a specific level of student achievement expected of students at particular ages, grades, or developmental levels; academic goals set for each grade level. (Ed Source)

benchmark performances

Performance examples against which other performances may be judged.

Bilingual Education

An in-school program for students whose first language is not English or who have limited English skills. Bilingual education provides English language development plus subject area instruction in the student's native language. The goal is for the child to gain knowledge and be literate in two languages. (Ed Source)

Block Scheduling

Instead of traditional 40- to 50-minute periods, block scheduling allows for periods of an hour or more so that teachers can accomplish more during a class session. It also allows for teamwork across subject areas in some schools. For example, a math and science teacher may teach a physics lesson that includes both math and physics concepts.

Bond Measure

A method of borrowing used by school districts to pay for construction or renovation projects. A bond measure requires a 55 percent majority to pass. The principal and interest are repaid by local property owners through an increase in property taxes. (See also parcel tax.) (Ed Source)


Categorical Aid

Funds from the state or federal government granted to qualifying schools or districts for specific children with special needs, certain programs such as class size reduction, or special purposes such as transportation. In general, schools or districts must spend the money for the specific purpose. All districts receive categorical aid in varying amounts. This aid is in addition to the funding schools received for their general education program. (Ed Source)


An instructional technique in which the teacher breaks a complex task into smaller tasks models the desired learning strategy or task provides support as students learn to do the task and then gradually shifts responsibility to the students. In this manner a teacher enables students to accomplish as much of a task as possible without adult assistance.


Council of Chief State School Officers


National Research Center on English Learning and Achievement


A state-issued license certifying that the teacher has completed the necessary basic training courses and passed the teacher exam.

Certificated/credentialed Employees

School employees who are required by the state to hold teaching credentials, including full-time, part-time, substitute, or temporary teachers and most administrators. A teacher who has not yet acquired a credential but has an emergency permit or a waiver to teach in the classroom is included in the count. The requirements for a fully credentialed teacher include having a bachelor's degree, completing additional required coursework, and passing the CBEST. (Ed-data and Ed Source)

Charter Schools

Publicly funded schools that are exempt from many state laws and regulations for school districts. They are run by groups of teachers, parents, and/or foundations. (Ed-data and SARC glossary)


Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement

Class Size Reduction

A state-funded program for kindergarten through third grade classes to ensure that there are no more than 20 students per teacher. A separate program supports some smaller classes for core subjects in ninth grade. (Ed-data)

Classified Employees

School employees who are not required to hold teaching credentials, such as bus drivers, secretaries, custodians, instructional aides, and some management personnel. (Ed-data, Ed Source)

Closed Campus

This usually indicates that the school has one point of entry and a sign-in procedure as safety measures. It also refers to a high school that does not allow students to leave the campus for lunch or does not allow students to come and go without permission during the school day.


To place small groups of students together for instruction, especially GATE student


An instructional method in which a teacher supports students as they perfect old skills and acquire new skills.

cognitive science

A science investigating how people learn rather than what they learn. Prior knowledge and out-of-classroom experience help form the foundation on which teachers build effective instruction. Also referred to as the study of the mind.

cognitively guided instruction

An instructional strategy in which a teacher assesses what students already know about a subject and then builds on students prior knowledge. Students typically are asked to suggest a way to represent a real problem posed by the teacher. Guided questions encouragement and suggestions further encourage students to devise solutions and share the outcome with the class.

collaborative learning or cooperative learning

An instructional approach in which students of varying abilities and interests work together in small groups to solve a problem complete a project or achieve a common goal.

Community College

A two-year college, also referred to as a junior college. Anyone who is 18 years old or holds a high school diploma (or equivalent) is eligible to attend a community college. Students can transfer from community colleges to either the CSU or UC systems. (Ed Source)

Community-Based Learning

Students, faculty, administrators, and community members working together to create new learning opportunities within local communities but generally outside traditional learning institutions.

Comparable Growth

Subgroups of students in a school must improve their scores on standardized tests. They are expected to achieve 80 percent of the predominant student group's target, which is known as comparable growth.

Conflict Management

A strategy that schools use to prevent and address behavior problems by using peer counselors, mediators, or a school curriculum or program. It usually includes a set of expectations for behavior.

Consolidated Application (Con App)

The application districts can use to apply for more than 20 state and federal categorical programs, including the federal Title I program and the state School Improvement Program (SIP). Most if not all districts use the Con App to secure funding from at least some of the programs on the application. (Ed Source)


Theory suggesting that students learn by constructing their own knowledge especially through hands-on exploration. It emphasizes that the context in which an idea is presented as well as student attitude and behavior affects learning. Students learn by incorporating new information into what they already know.

Content Standards

Standards that describe what students should know and be able to do in core academic subjects at each grade level. (Ed Source

Cooperative Learning

A teaching method in which students of differing abilities work together on an assignment. Each student has a specific responsibility within the group. Students complete assignments together and receive a common grade.

Core Academics

The required subjects in middle and high schools—usually English (literature), history (social studies), math, and science.


Center for Policy Research in Education


Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed At Risk


National Center for Research on Evaluation Standards and Student Testing

criterion-referenced assessment

An assessment that measures what a student understands knows or can accomplish in relation to specific performance objectives. It is used to identify a student s specific strengths and weaknesses in relation to skills defined as the goals of the instruction but it does not compare students to other students. (Compare to norm-referenced assessment.)

Criterion-Referenced Test

A test that measures how well a student has learned a specific body of knowledge and skills. The goal is typically to have every student attain a passing mark, not to compare students to each other. (See norm-referenced assessment). (Ed Source)

critical thinking

Logical thinking that draws conclusions from facts and evidence.

Cross-Cultural Language and Development (CLAD)

A test that teachers must pass to gain credentials that qualify them to teach English to English learners. The BCLAD is a CLAD for bilingual teachers.

Curriculum (plural curricula)

A plan of instruction that details what students are to know how they are to learn it what the teacher s role is and the context in which learning and teaching will take place.


data-driven decision making

A process of making decisions about curriculum and instruction based on the analysis of classroom data and standardized test data. Data-driven decision making uses data on function quantity and quality of inputs and how students learn to suggest educational solutions. It is based on the assumption that scientific methods used to solve complex problems in industry can effectively evaluate educational policy programs and methods.

Differentiated Instruction

This is also referred to as "individualized" or "customized" instruction. The curriculum offers several different learning experiences within one lesson to meet students' varied needs or learning styles. For example, different teaching methods for students with learning disabilities.

Disaggregated Data

The presentation of data broken into segments of the student population instead of the entire enrollment. Typical segments include students who are economically disadvantaged, from racial or ethnic minority groups, have disabilities, or have limited English fluency. Disaggregated data allows parents and teachers to see how each student group is performing in a school. (Ed Source)

Distance Learning

Using technology such as two-way interactive television teacher and student(s) in different locations may communicate with one another as in a regular classroom setting.



Education Commission of the States

Emergency Permit

Normally a one-year permit issued to people entering the teaching profession who have not completed some of the legal requirements for a credential. Generally the intent is that the person will enroll in and complete an approved teacher preparation program. (Ed Source)


Eisenhower National Clearinghouse

English as a Second Language

Classes or support programs for students whose native language is not English.

English Language Advisory Committee (ELAC)

Variations include "English Language Advisory Council," and "English Language Learner Advisory Committee/Council." The group consists of parents and school staff who work together to address the academic needs of students still learning English.

English Learner

A student who is not proficient enough in the English language to succeed in the school's regular instructional programs and who qualifies for extra help. (Formerly referred to as Limited English Proficient/LEP.) (Ed Source/Ed-data)


Additional courses outside those required for graduation




Educational Testing Service exhibition of mastery A type of assessment in which students display their grasp of knowledge and skills using methods such as skits video presentations posters oral presentations or portfolios.



A role for classroom teachers that allows students to take a more active role in learning. Teachers assist students in making connections between classroom instruction and students own knowledge and experiences by encouraging students to create new solutions by challenging their assumptions and by asking probing questions.

Fluent English Proficient (FEP)

A designation that means that a student is no longer considered as part of the school's English learner population. It refers to students who have learned English. (Ed Source)

Formative Assessment

Any form of assessment used by an educator to evaluate students' knowledge and understanding of particular content and then to adjust instructional practices accordingly toward improving student achievement in that area. (Ed Source)


General Fund

Accounting term used by the state and school districts to differentiate general revenues and expenditures from funds for specific uses, such as a Cafeteria Fund. (Ed-data)

Gifted and Talented Education (GATE)

A program that offers supplemental, differentiated, challenging curriculum and instruction for students identified as being intellectually gifted or talented. (Ed Source)

graphing calculator

A calculator with a large display that enables the user to see math functions and data graphically.


hands-on/minds-on activities

Activities that engage students physical as well as mental skills to solve problems. Students devise a solution strategy predict outcomes activate or perform the strategy reflect on results and compare end results with predictions.

heterogeneous grouping

Grouping together students of varying abilities interests or ages.

High Priority Schools Grant Program (HPSGP)

A program created to provide funds for schools in the lower half of the state rankings (Deciles 1-5) based on the API. It focuses on schools with APIs that fall in the bottom ten percent of all schools and replaces the II/USP. Schools volunteer to be in this program. (Ed Source)

higher-order questions

Questions that require thinking and reflection rather than single-solution responses.

higher-order thinking skills

Understanding complex concepts and applying sometimes conflicting information to solve a problem which may have more than one correct answer.

Highly Qualified Teacher

According to NCLB, a teacher who has obtained full state teacher certification or has passed the state teacher licensing examination and holds a license to teach in the state; holds a minimum of a bachelor’s degree; and has demonstrated subject area competence in each of the academic subjects in which the teacher teaches. (Ed Source)

holistic scoring

Using a scoring guide or anchor papers to assign a single overall score to a performance. (See scoring guide.)



Institute of Educational Sciences (U.S. Department of Education).

II/USP (Immediate Intervention/Underperforming Schools Program)

The Immediate Intervention/Underperforming Schools Program was designed to encourage a schoolwide improvement program in schools with very low test scores and to provide assistance and intervention. Schools in the lowest five deciles of API scores were eligible if they did not meet their API targets. It was replaced in 2002 with HPSGP, a similar program. (Ed-data)

Immersion Education

A program that teaches children to speak, read, and write in a second language by surrounding them with conversation and instruction in that language. Note that English immersion may differ from other immersion programs.


The practice of placing students with disabilities in regular classrooms. Also known as mainstreaming. (Ed Source)

Independent Study

Specially designed instruction in courses taught through a variety of delivery methods that complement traditional high school curricula and provide an accredited diploma.

Individual Education Program (IEP

A written plan created for a student with learning disabilities by the student's teachers, parents or guardians, the school administrator, and other interested parties. The plan is tailored to the student's specific needs and abilities, and outlines goals for the student to reach. The IEP should be reviewed at least once a year.

Informal knowledge

Knowledge about a topic that children learn through experience outside of the classroom.


A process in which students investigate a problem devise and work through a plan to solve the problem and propose a solution to the problem.

Instructional Minutes

Refers to the amount of time the state requires teachers to spend providing instruction in each subject area.

Integrated Curriculum

Refers to the practice of using a single theme to teach a variety of subjects. It also refers to a interdisciplinary curriculum, which combines several school subjects into one project.

interdiscipinary curriculum

A curriculum that consciously applies the methodology and language from more than one discipline to examine a central theme issue problem topic or experience.

intermediate service agency (ISA) or intermediate unit (IU)

Regional centers or agencies established by some state governments to provide needed services assistance and information to local schools and districts.

International Baccalaureate (IB)

A rigorous college preparation course of study that leads to examinations for highly motivated high school students. Students can earn college credit from many universities if their exam scores are high enough. (Ed Source)


A worldwide network of networks that allows participants in different electronic networks to share information transfer files access news and communicate through electronic mail.


The term refers to funds that schools get for students who are not learning at grade level. They can be used to fund before-school or afterschool programs or to pay for materials and instructors.


Job Shadowing

A program that takes students into the workplace to learn about careers through one-day orientations or more extensive internships to see how the skills learned in school relate to the workplace.

Joint School Districts

School districts with boundaries that cross county lines. (Ed Source)



The Northeast and Islands Laboratory at Brown University.

Language Arts

Another term for English curriculum. The focus is on reading, speaking, listening, and writing skills.

learner-centered classroom

Classroom in which students are encouraged to choose their own learning goals and projects. This approach is based on the belief that students have a natural inclination to learn learn better when they work on real or authentic tasks benefit from interacting with diverse groups of people and learn best when teachers understand and value the difference in how each student learns.

Less is more

A principle built on the idea that quality is of higher importance than quantity. It is reflected in instruction that guides students to focus on fewer topics investigated in greater depth with teachers performing the task of prioritizing subjects as well as specific skills within those subjects.


Laboratory for Student Success (serves states in the Mid-Atlantic area)


Magnet School

A school that focuses on a particular discipline, such as science, mathematics, arts, or computer science. It is designed to recruit students from other parts of the school district.


The practice of placing students with disabilities in regular classrooms; also known as inclusion. (Ed Source)


Any physical object (e.g. blocks toothpicks coins) that can be used to represent or model a problem situation or develop a mathematical concept.


Three-dimensional teaching aids and visuals that teachers use to help students with math concepts. Typical tools include counting beads or bars, base ten blocks, shapes, fraction parts, and rulers.

matrix sampling

An assessment method in which no student completes the entire assessment but each completes a portion of the assessment. Portions are allotted to different representative samples of students. Group (rather than individual) scores are obtained for an analysis of school or district performance.


Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning


The process of considering and regulating one s own learning. Activities include assessing or reviewing one s current and previous knowledge identifying gaps in that knowledge planning gap-filling strategies determining the relevance of new information and potentially revising beliefs on the subject.

Minimum Day

A shortened school day that allows teachers to meet and work together.


Demonstrating to the learner how to do a task with the expectation that the learner can copy the model. Modeling often involves thinking aloud or talking about how to work through a task.


The installation of new plumbing, air conditioning, floors, cabinets, carpeting, etc. on school grounds.

Multiple-subject Credential

A credential required to teach in elementary and middle-school classrooms. It qualifies a teacher to teach multiple subjects in a self-contained class.



National Assessment of Educational Progress


National Association for the Education of Young Children


National Association for State Boards of Education


New American Schools Development Corporation

National Blue Ribbon Award

This award honors public and private K–12 schools that are academically superior or that demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement.


National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information


National Center on Adult Literacy


National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education


National Center for Educational Statistics

NCLB (No Child Left Behind)

Signed into law by President Bush in 2002, No Child Left Behind sets performance guidelines for all schools and also stipulates what must be included in accountability reports to parents. It mandates annual student testing, includes guidelines for underperforming schools, and requires states to train all teachers and assistants to be "highly qualified".


North Center Mathematics and Science Consortium


North Central Regional Educational Laboratory


North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium


National Council of Teachers of English


National Council of Teachers of Mathematics


National Education Association

New Math

The teaching of highly abstract and conceptual math which was popular during the early 1960s.


National Governors Association

Norm-referenced Assessment

  • An assessment designed to discover how an individual student s performance or test result compares to that of an appropriate peer group. (Compare to criterion-referenced assessment.)

  • An assessment in which an individual or group's performance is compared with a larger group. Usually the larger group is representative of a cross-section of all US students. (Ed Source)


National Staff Development Council


National Science Teachers Association


Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory



Office of Educational Research and Improvement (Now Institute of Educational Sciences) U.S. Department of Education

Open Court Reading Series

A program that provides systematic, explicit instruction to help students learn the structure of words and how to sound them out. Fluent reading and comprehension by the end of first grade is a program goal.

Open-ended Question

A question that has many avenues of access and allows students to respond in a variety of ways. Such questions have more than one correct answer.

Open-ended task

A performance task in which students are required to generate a solution or response to a problem when there is no single correct answer.

Open-response task

A performance task in which students are required to generate an answer rather than select an answer from among several possible answers but there is a single correct response.

Outcome-based education

An integrated system of educational programs that aligns specific student outcomes instructional methods and assessment.


Parent Teacher Association (PTA)

A national organization of parents, teachers, and other interested persons that has chapters in schools. They rely entirely on voluntary participation and offer assistance to schools in many different areas

Peer Assistance and Review Program (PAR)

A program that encourages designated consulting teachers to assist other teachers who need help in developing their subject matter knowledge, teaching strategies, or both. They also help teachers to meet the standards for proficient teaching.

Peer Resource Program

A program that trains students to provide their peers with counseling, education, and support on issues such as prejudice, drugs, violence, child abuse, dropping out, AIDS, and peer pressure. Students are also trained to provide tutoring and conflict mediation.

Percentile Ranks

One way to compare a given child, class, school, or district to a national norm. (Ed Source)

Performance Assessment

Systematic and direct observation of a student performance or examples of student performances and ranking according to preestablished performance criteria. Students are assessed on the result as well as the process engaged in a complex task or creation of a product.

Performance Criteria

A description of the characteristics to be assessed for a given task. Performance criteria may be general specific analytical trait or holistic. They may be expressed as a scoring rubric or scoring guide. (See rubrics and scoring guide.)

Performance Task

An assessment exercise that is goal directed. The exercise is developed to elicit students application of a wide range of skills and knowledge to solve a complex problem.


An instructional strategy used to teach reading. It helps beginning readers by teaching them letter-sound relationships and having them sound out words.

Physical Education (PE)

Activities focused on developing physical and motor fitness; fundamental motor skills and patterns; and skills in aquatics, dance, individual and group games, and sports (including intramural and lifetime sports). The term includes special PE, adaptive PE, movement education, and motor development.


A term commonly used to describe single-unit, relocatable buildings. A portable building can be moved from one site when it is no longer needed and used again in another location.


A collection of various samples of a student’s work throughout the school year that can include writing samples, examples of math problems, and results of science experiments. (Ed Source)

Portfolio Assessment

An assessment process that is based on the collection of student work (such as written assignments drafts artwork and presentations) that represents competencies exemplary work or the student s developmental progress.


Pacific Resources for Education and Learning

Prior Knowledge

The total of an individual s knowledge at any given time.

Problem Solving

A method of learning in which students evaluate their thinking and progress while solving problems. The process includes strategy discussion--determining solution strategies to similar problems and pinpointing additional problems within the context of their investigation.

Project 2061

A reform initiative developed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science which seeks to improve the quality increase the relevance and broaden the availability of science math and technology education.


Parent Teacher Association


Parent Teacher Organization


R and D

research and development


research and development

RD and D

research development and dissemination


An indicator of score consistency over time or across multiple evaluators. Reliable assessment is one in which the same answers receive the same score regardless of who performs the scoring or how or where the scoring takes place. The same person is likely to get approximately the same score across multiple test administrations.


See systemic reform.


Specific criteria or guidelines used to evaluate student work.


Safe Harbor

An alternate method for a school to meet AMO if it shows progress in moving students from scoring at the "below proficient" level to the "proficient" level or above on STAR, CAHSEE, and/or CAPA. The state, school districts, and schools may still make AYP if each subgroup that fails to reach its proficiency performance targets reduces its percentage of students not meeting standards by 10 percent of the previous year's percentage, plus the subgroup must meet the attendance rate or graduation rate targets. (Dataquest)

SAT (Standardized Achievement Test

Also known as the SAT Reasoning Test (formerly called Scholastic Aptitude Test), this test is widely used as a college entrance examination. Scores can be compared to state and national averages of seniors graduating from any public or private school. (Ed-data)


This was formerly know as the Achievement Tests and was renamed the SAT II: Subject Tests. They are administered by the College Board and widely used as a college entrance exam. Students may take the test more than once, but only the highest score is reported at the year of graduation.


The range of scores possible for the student to achieve on a test or an assessment. Performance assessments typically use a 4- to 6-point scale compared to a scale of 100 or more with traditional multiple-choice tests.

School Accountability Report Card (SARC)

An annual disclosure report for parents and the public produced by a school that presents student achievement, test scores, teacher credentials, dropout rates, class sizes, resources, and more. The SARC is required by state and federal law.

School Improvement Program (SIP)

A state-funded program for elementary, intermediate, and secondary schools to improve instruction, services, school environment and organization at school sites according to plans developed by School Site Councils (see School Site Council).

School Site Council (SSC)

A group of teachers, parents, administrators, and interested community members who work together to develop and monitor a school's improvement plan. It is a legally required decision-making body for any school receiving federal funds (see School Improvement Plan).

Scientific Knowledge

Knowledge that provides people with the conceptual and technological tools to explain and describe how the world works.

Scientifically Based Research

Research that involves the application of rigorous, systemic, and objective procedures to obtain reliable and valid knowledge relevant to educational activities and programs. (Ed Source)

Scoring Guide

A set of guidelines for rating student work. A scoring guide describes what is being assessed provides a scoring scale and helps the teacher or rater correctly place work on the scale. (See rubrics.)


State education agency (e.g. state department of education)


Southwest Educational Development Laboratory

Sheltered English

An instructional approach in which classes are composed entirely of students learning English. Students are taught using methods that make academic instruction in English understandable. In some schools, students may be clustered in a mainstream classroom.

Single-Subject Credential

A credential required to teach middle or high school. It authorizes a teacher to teach in a single subject area such as English or a foreign language.

Socioeconomically Disadvantaged

Students whose parents do not have a high school diploma or who participate in the federally funded free/reduced price meal program because of low family income. (Ed Source)

Spanish Assessment of Basic Education, Second Ed. (SABE/2)

A norm-referenced assessment required for all Spanish-speaking students in grades two through eleven who have been enrolled in California schools for less than one year. SABE/2 is part of the STAR program and the results are part of the school's API. It covers Spanish/language arts and mathematics. (Ed Source)

Special Day Classes

Full-day classes for students with learning disabilities, speech and/or language impairments, serious emotional disturbances, cognitive delays, and a range of other impairments. Classes are taught by certified special education teachers. A student may be placed in a regular classroom as appropriate according to the student's IEP.

Special Education

Special instruction provided for students with educational or physical disabilities, tailored to each student's needs and learning style.

Staff Development Days

Days set aside in the school calendar for teacher training. School is not generally held on these days.

Standardized Tests

  • Assessments that are administered and scored in exactly the same way for all students. Traditional standardized tests are typically mass-produced and machine-scored they are designed to measure skills and knowledge that are thought to be taught to all students in a fairly standardized way. Performance assessments also can be standardized if they are administered and scored in the same way for all students.

  • A test that is in the same format for all who take it. It often relies on multiple-choice questions and the testing conditions—including instructions, time limits, and scoring rubrics—are the same for all students, though sometimes accommodations on time limits and instructions are made for disabled students. (Ed Source)


Statements of what students should know and be able to demonstrate. Various standards have been developed by national organizations state departments of education districts and schools.

Student Assistance Program

A school-based program modeled on employee assistance programs that focuses on addressing students behavior and performance at school and includes a referral process to help students address identified problems.

Student Study Team

(also referred to as Student Success Team)

A team of educators that comes together at the request of a classroom teacher, parent, or counselor to design in-class intervention techniques to meet the needs of a particular student.

Student Teacher

A teacher in training who is in the last semester of a teacher education program. Student teachers work with a regular teacher who supervises their practice teaching.

Systemic Reform



Teaching for Understanding

A teaching method that focuses on the process of understanding as the goal of learning rather than simply the development of specific skills. It focuses on forming connections and seeing relationships among facts procedures concepts and principles and between prior and new knowledge.

Team Teaching

A teaching method in which two or more teachers teach the same subjects or theme. The teachers may alternate teaching the entire group or divide the group into sections or classes that rotate between the teachers.


In education a branch of knowledge based on the development and implementation of computers software and other technical tools and the assessment and evaluation of students educational outcomes resulting from their use of technology tools.


Teacher Education Council of State Colleges and Universities


A system of due process and employment guarantee for teachers. After serving a two-year probationary period, teachers are assured continued employment in the school district unless carefully defined procedures for dismissal or layoff are successfully followed. (Ed Source)

Thematic Units

A unit of study that has lessons focused on a specific theme, sometimes covering all core subject areas. It is often used as an alternative approach to teaching history or social studies chronologically.

Title 1

A federal program that provides funds to improve the academic achievement for educationally disadvantaged students who score below the 50th percentile on standardized tests, including the children of migrant workers. (Ed Source)


A common instructional practice of organizing student in groups based on their academic skills. Tracking allows a teacher to provide the same level of instruction to the entire group.

Traditional Assessment

An assessment in which students select responses from a multiple-choice list a true/false list or a matching list. (Compare to alternative assessment.)

Traditional Calendar

School starts in September and ends in June for a total of 180 days of instruction.



An indication that an assessment instrument consistently measures what it is designed to measure excluding extraneous features from such measurement.



The Regional Educational Laboratory serving Arizona California Nevada and Utah.

Whole Language

A teaching method that focuses on reading for meaning in context.


Year-Round Education

A modified school calendar that gives students short breaks throughout the year, instead of a traditional three-month summer break. Year-round calendars vary, sometimes within the same school district. Some schools use the staggered schedule to relieve overcrowding, while others believe the three-month break allows students to forget much of the material covered in the previous year.


Zone of Proximal Development

A level or range in which a student can perform a task with help.

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