Our glossary of education jargon
Here is our first stab at a guide to “educationese,” the acronyms and jargon you’ll encounter in the education world. By no means do we claim it's comprehensive, but it does contain many of the terms that we use in our daily lives on the education beat. This will be a permanent post on the blog, so please feel free to send us additions and suggestions. We've divided the glossary into national, state and local sections, with subsections for terms related to No Child Left Behind and special education.
NATIONAL EDUCATION TERMS (GENERAL)
AFSCME: American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. The union representing custodians and maintenance and transportation workers in many school districts.
AFT: American Federation of Teachers. The nation’s second-largest teachers union. The Baltimore Teachers Union is an affiliate. (Other Maryland teachers unions fall under the nation's largest union, the National Education Association.)
AP: Can mean Advanced Placement or assistant principal. Advanced Placement is a program run by the College Board where high school students take advanced classes (called AP classes) with tests (called AP exams) at the end. The tests are scored on a scale of 1 to 5. Scores of 3 and higher can earn students college credits (called AP credits).
AVID: Advancement Via Individual Determination. A national college-preparatory program that helps students strengthen their academic skills.
Benchmarks: Tests that measure student progress throughout the year.
BOE: Board of Education. A school board.
Capital budget: A school system's budget for construction and renovation projects.
CAROI: Cooperative Audit Resolution and Oversight Initiative. A federal mediation program run by the U.S. Department of Education used to resolve audit findings.
Charter school: A public school that operates independently, under a contract with a local school board.
CTBS: Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills. A national standardized test.
CTE: Career and Technology Education. Programs that prepare students for specific career fields; the new term for vocational education.
DARE: Drug Abuse Resistance Education.
DIBELS: Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills. Quick assessments developed by the University of Oregon to check whether young children are on track to learn to read. Used in the early grades in many Maryland schools.
DOE: Department of Education.
ELL: English Language Learner. ELLs are enrolled in ESOL.
ESOL: English for Speakers of Other Languages. Also called ESL. Refers to the program for students who speak English as a second language.
FARM: Free and reduced-price school meals (breakfast and lunch), subsidized by the federal government for poor kids. A school’s FARM rate generally indicates how poor its student population is. A school’s FARM rate is more reliable in elementary and middle schools because in high schools kids are often embarrassed to turn in applications for free meals because it’s an admission of poverty.
FAFSA: Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The form all students interested in financial aid for college must complete.
GT: Gifted and Talented. Refers to an exceptionally bright student. GT classes are classes for GT students.
INTASC: Interstate New Teachers Assessment & Support Consortium. According to its Web site, “a consortium of state education agencies and national educational organizations dedicated to the reform of the preparation, licensing, and on-going professional development of teachers.”
IB: International Baccalaureate. An international education program, with divisions designed for elementary, middle and high schools. High schools with an IB program allow students the opportunity to work toward a prestigious IB diploma.
LEA: Local education agency. A fancy name for a school district.
LEP: Limited English Proficiency. Refers to a student learning English as a second language.
Paraprofessionals (“paras”): School assistants. “Instructional paraprofessionals” are classroom assistants. “Non-instructional paraprofessionals” are assistants who work in the school outside the classroom.
NAEP: National Assessment of Educational Progress. Also referred to as “The Nation’s Report Card.” The only standardized test administered to schools around the nation. The standardized tests administered under No Child Left Behind vary from state to state, and therefore it’s difficult to make comparisons. NAEP is considered to be a harder test than many of the statewide assessments. But NAEP does not provide scores for individual students or schools as the statewide assessments do.
NAME: National Association for Multicultural Education.
NCTE: National Council of Teachers of English.
NEA: National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union.
NSTA: National Science Teachers Association.
Operating budget: A school district's budget for all expenses except construction projects, which are contained in the capital budget.
PBIS: Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. A program many schools use to improve student behavior.
Praxis: A test that teachers must pass for certification. Praxis 1 measure basic skills while Praxis 2 measures subject-area expertise.
PTA: Parent Teacher Association. Sometimes called a PTSA, Parent Teacher Student Association.
SAT: Scholastic Achievement Test. The most widely used college admissions test. Students generally take the PSAT (P stands for pre) the year before the SAT. Contains sections in critical reading, math and writing, each scored on a scale up to 800, with the maximum possible score 2,400. There are also SAT subject tests, sometimes called the SAT 2’s.
SGA: Student Government Association.
SIP: School Improvement Plan.
SIT: School Improvement Team. A group of faculty and parents appointed to make decisions about school reforms.
SRO: School Resource Officer. A police officer assigned to a school.
TAS: Targeted Assistance School. A school that provides targeted assistance to a select group of students; is ineligible or has chosen not to be a Title 1 school.
TFA: Teach for America. The program that places recent graduates of prestigious colleges and universities as teachers in inner-city schools for two years.
Title 1: A federal program for poor schools. Schools are designated Title 1 based on the number of FARM students they have.
USDOE: U.S. Department of Education.
YRE: Year-Round Education.
Zero-basing: When the whole staff of a failing school must reapply for their jobs.
NATIONAL EDUCATION TERMS (NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND-RELATED)
AMO: Annual measurable objectives, a set of state-established benchmarks for student subgroups that schools must meet to make AYP.
AYP: Adequate yearly progress. No Child Left Behind requires that all students be proficient (translation: pass state tests) in reading and math by 2014. Until then, schools must make “adequate yearly progress” on tests each year. The state establishes how much they need to improve each year to get to 100 percent proficiency by 2014. AYP measures scores not only for the school as a whole, but also by “subgroups.” Schools need to meet AYP for categories including racial minorities, poor students and special education students. Special ed is the most common area where otherwise high-performing schools don’t make AYP. Though it is primarily based on test scores, AYP also incorporates the attendance record of elementary and middle schools and the graduation rate of high schools.
HQ: Highly qualified. What No Child Left Behind wants educators to be. For teachers, it means certified with subject-area expertise. All teachers in “core” academic subjects (math, English, science, social studies) were supposed to be highly qualified by June 2007. For paraprofessionals, highly qualified means passing a standardized test (the ParaPro) or earning an associate’s degree or enough credits for an associate’s degree. All “instructional paraprofessionals” (classroom assistants) in Title 1 schools were supposed to be highly qualified by June 2006.
NCLB: The federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, signed into law by President Bush in January 2002, up for reauthorization in 2007. Requires that all students be tested in reading and math annually in grades three through eight, and once in high school.
Persistently dangerous: No Child Left Behind requires states to label schools that are “persistently dangerous” but leaves it up to the states to determine what a persistently dangerous school is. Maryland makes it easier to be labeled persistently dangerous than most other states. It bases a persistently dangerous designation on a school’s suspension rate for violent offences (attacks on teachers, weapons in school, arson, etc.), not the number of incidents that actually occurred, leading to criticism that schools are discouraged from reporting what happens.
NATIONAL EDUCATION TERMS (SPECIAL EDUCATION-RELATED)
504 Plan: A legally binding document outlining the accommodations that a school must make for a child with a special condition. Accommodations range from a providing a wheelchair ramp to administering medication to giving a child more time on a test. Students with 504 Plans are not considered special education students.
ADD: Attention Deficit Disorder.
ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.
ARD: Admission, Review and Dismissal Committee. The committee that develops a student's IEP (see below) once the child has been deemed eligible for special education.
ED: Emotionally disturbed. Students can be classified as “emotionally disturbed” because of severe behavior problems that are considered a disability. Also called "EH," or emotionally handicapped, or "SED," severely emotionally disabled.
FAPE: Free and appropriate public education.
FCI (Federal Census Index) Codes: National codes that schools use to refer to specific student disabilities. As provided by a Baltimore special educator: 01 is mental retardation, 02 is hearing impaired, 03 is deaf, 04 is speech or language impaired, 05 is visual impairments (including blindness), 06 is emotionally disturbed, 07 is orthopedically impaired, 08 is "other health impaired," 09 is specific learning disabilities, 10 is multiple disabilities, 11 was student in need of assessment but is no longer used, 12 is deaf and blind, 13 is traumatic brain injury, 14 is autism,
15 is developmental delay.
IDEA: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the major federal law governing special education. IDEA entitles students with disabilities a “free and appropriate public education” in the “least restrictive environment” until they are 21.
IEP: An individualized education program, an individual education plan… take your pick of translations. But an IEP is the legally binding document created by the educators and parents of a special education students dictating what services the child is entitled to receive and outlining how those services will be provided. “IEP meetings,” or meetings reviewing the terms of a child’s IEP and the child’s progress, must be held at least once a year. If a child does not receive all the services outlined in the IEP, a school can be required to provide “compensatory” (makeup) services.
Inclusion: A classroom where disabled students are educated alongside their non-disabled peers. A regular class, but generally with two teachers: the classroom teacher and a special education teacher who works with the disabled kids to give them the help they need to keep up.
Interruption: When a child is supposed to receive a special education service, such as speech therapy or counseling, and doesn’t. There can be a variety of causes, including buses not showing up to bring the child to school and a shortage of clinicians to provide the services, especially speech therapists.
LRE: Least restrictive environment. This means that students with disabilities must be mainstreamed with their non-disabled peers to the greatest extent possible, rather than segregated in classes that are only for special education students.
Non-public placement: When a school system acknowledges that it can't meet the needs of a special education student and pays to send the child to private school.
SECAC: Special Education Citizens’ Advisory Committee. Maryland’s name for a local committee, often made up of parents of special education students, that advises a school district on special education issues.
Self-contained: A segregated classroom only for special education students. Class sizes are usually very small, and students have severe disabilities. Some self-contained classes are for students classified as emotionally disturbed.
STATE EDUCATION TERMS
AIMMS: Achievement Initiative for Maryland’s Minority Students, a state-appointed steering committee.
BCR: Brief Constructed Response. A short-answer question on the MSA.
Bridge Plan: Plan to allow students who fail the High School Assessments twice to do a project instead in order to get a high school diploma.
CAC: Community Advisory Council.
CIP: Capital Improvement Program. Every year, each of Maryland’s 24 school systems submits to the state a “CIP request” listing the school construction and renovation projects it wants to do. It includes a request for money for the subsequent fiscal year, and a list of the projects it is planning for the next five years.
COMAR: Code of Maryland Regulations. Contains the state education code that governs a wide variety of rules in the state on public and private education. The code includes specific procedures for public notification and comment that a school board must follow before closing a school. In Baltimore, people often refer to “going through COMAR” or holding a “COMAR hearing” when they’re talking about public notification of impending school closures.
ECR: Extended Constructed Response. An essay question on the MSA.
GCEI: Geographic Cost of Education Index. An unfunded part of the Thornton legislation (see below) that would provide extra aid to 13 Maryland school districts based on their higher costs of living.
HSA: High School Assessments. The four exams that students are required to pass to graduate starting with the class of 2009. The exams come at the end of courses in Algebra 1, English 2 (sophomore English), biology and American government. Students can retake the tests multiple times and can fail one test if their average score on the four tests combined is 1602. If they fail twice, students will have the option of doing a project instead. A high school’s Algebra 1 and English 2 scores also count as its MSA results (see below).
IAC: Interagency Committee on School Construction. Chaired by the state superintendent, the committee administers the state’s public school construction program. IAC recommendations on public school construction funding are approved by the state Board of Public Works (comprised of the governor, the treasurer and the comptroller).
MABE: Maryland Association of Boards of Education.
MASC: Maryland Association of Student Councils.
MDPTA: Maryland PTA.
MSA: Maryland School Assessments. Maryland’s annual standardized tests in reading and math required under No Child Left Behind, administered annually in grades three through eight and once in high school. The assessment program is expanding to include tests in science. The “Alt-MSA” is an alternative assessment given to students with severe disabilities.
MSDE: Maryland State Department of Education.
MSPAP: Maryland School Performance Assessment Program. The state testing program that preceded MSA. It was last administered in the spring of 2002 and tested third-, fifth- and eighth-graders.
MSTA: Maryland State Teachers Association. The state teachers union, an affiliate of the National Education Association.
Pony Mail: The interoffice mail delivery within a school system.
PPW: Pupil Personnel Worker. Person who works as a liaison among a school, families and the community.
Schools in Improvement: The state list of schools that have failed to make AYP based on their MSA scores for at least two years in a row. This list is mandated by NCLB. Once a school gets on the list, it must make AYP for two consecutive years to get off. Schools on the list that continue to fail to make AYP face a series of sanctions that get more serious each year.
In Year 1: School must write a plan for improving student achievement. Title 1 schools must offer parents the option of transferring their children to a higher-performing school within the district.
In Year 2: Title 1 schools must provide extra services, usually outside tutoring, to poor students.
In Year 3: The school goes into “corrective action” (known as “CA” for short). It must make state-approved reforms such as replacing certain staff members, adopting a new curriculum or lengthening the school year. Title 1 schools continue offering the transfer option and extra tutoring.
In Year 4: The school goes into “restructuring planning” (known as “RS-Plan” for short). It must plan for a major overhaul, including “zero basing” (where all staff members must reapply for their jobs), converting to a charter school or being taken over by the local school system or by the state.
In Year 5: The restructuring plan is implemented.
SR: Selected Response. A multiple choice question on the MSA.
Thornton: Also known as the Bridge to Excellence Act. 2002 legislation that provided approximately $1.5 billion in extra aide to Maryland schools over five years. Named after Alvin Thornton, former head of the Prince George’s County school board who chaired a commission to determine what constitutes adequate school funding.
VSC: Voluntary State Curriculum. Only it’s not really voluntary.… The curriculum that the Maryland State Department of Education recommends that school districts follow. Outlines material that students should know at a given grade level; that material is then tested on the MSA.
LOCAL EDUCATION TERMS
Anne Arundel County
AACPS: Anne Arundel County Public Schools.
CRASC: The Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils.
SMOB: Student Member of Board. Refers to the student who serves on the Arundel school board.
TAAC: Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County. The teachers union.
AAO: Area academic officer. The administrators who oversee groups of schools. A principal’s immediate boss is an AAO.
ASCBC: Associated Student Congress of Baltimore City. The citywide student government association.
BCCC: Baltimore City Community College.
BCPSS: Baltimore City Public School System.
Bradford: The ongoing school funding lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union accusing the state of unconstitutionally underfunding the city schools. Led to the passage of the statewide Thornton legislation. City school board has joined the ACLU as a plaintiff. The judge in the case, Joseph H.H. Kaplan, now retired, ruled in 2004 that the state had unlawfully underfunded city schools by $400 million to $800 million since 2000. Members of the student advocacy group the Baltimore Algebra Project have used that ruling to stage repeated protests about the underfunding of city schools.
BTU: The Baltimore Teachers Union. Represents teachers and paraprofessionals. An affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. (Other Maryland jurisdictions belong to the Maryland State Teachers Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association.)
CAO: Chief academic officer. The top administrator in charge of instruction. In BCPSS, the CAO reports to the CEO (chief executive officer) and works alongside the COO (chief operating officer) and CFO (chief financial officer).
City-state partnership: Refers to the 1997 legislation that gave the state partial control of the city school system in exchange for increased funding. Prior to 1997, BCPSS was an agency of city government. Since 1997, the system has been its own entity, governed by a school board that’s appointed jointly by the mayor and the governor.
DREAA: Department of Research, Evaluation and Accountability. The school system's data keepers.
Facilities Solutions: Name of the process to close 15 percent of the square footage in the city schools over three years. Facilities Solutions 1 refers to the first year (2006), Facilities Solutions 2 is the second year (2007), and Facilities Solutions 3 is the last year (2008).
IMCIT: Intensive Management and Capacity Improvement Team. The team of state-appointed administrators sent by the federal judge in Vaughn G. (see below) to oversee all school system departments affecting special education, from transportation to human resources.
MDLC: Maryland Disability Law Center. The plaintiffs in the Vaughn G. case (see below), representing students with disabilities.
North Avenue: Nickname for city school system headquarters, located at 200 E. North Ave.
PCAB: Parent and Community Advisory Board. Parent advocacy group appointed by the city school board.
PIF: Unclear what it actually stands for, but it refers to a student's identification number in the school computer system.
PSASA: Public School Administrators and Supervisors Association. Union representing middle management in the city school system, including principals, assistant principals and supervisors.
Stanford 10 (SAT 10): A national standardized test that the city gives to first and second graders.
TerraNova: A national standardized test that city eighth-graders take as part of their application to magnet schools with admission criteria (called "citywide" high schools).
Vaughn G.: Name of the ongoing federal, class-action special education lawsuit filed by lawyers for students with disabilities against the Maryland State Department of Education and the Baltimore City Public School System in 1984, alleging that special ed students in city schools were being denied an adequate education. The judge in the case, Marvin J. Garbis, held the city school system in contempt in the summer of 2005 because of tens of thousands of “interruptions” in services the previous school year. He ordered the state to create the IMCIT (see above), overseeing all departments affecting special education.
BACE: Baltimore Association of Clerical Employees.
BCPS: Baltimore County Public Schools.
Blueprint for Progress: Superintendent Joe A. Hairston’s “vision statement.” A 28-page planning guide that outlines the school system’s academic goals and strategies. First published in November 2000. Most recently updated June 2007.
CASE: Council of Administrative and Supervisory Employees. The union that represents certificated principals, assistant principals and curriculum specialists.
CCBC: Community College of Baltimore County.
PDK: Phi Delta Kappa International, an Indiana-based education advocacy group that reviewed the system's curriculum and instruction department. Audit results were released in March 2007.
TABCO: Teachers Association of Baltimore County. The county teachers union.
APSASCCO: Association of Public School Administrators and Supervisors of Carroll County. The union representing administrators.
ART: Advanced Reporting Tool. An in-house, Web-based application that stores student information (test scores, attendance, etc.) and can help inform instructional decision-making.
CASE: Carroll Association of School Employees, the union that represents LPNs, clericals, and instructional and special education assistants.
CCEA: Carroll County Education Association. The teachers union.
CCPS: Carroll County Public Schools.
CSSRP: Comprehensive Secondary School Reform Plan. A systemwide restructuring of the high schools that includes a fourth math requirement, creation of career clusters, and block schedules to ensure that programs and opportunities are consistent across all high schools.
HCC: Harford Community College.
HCPS: Harford County Public Schools.
HECC: Higher Education & Conference Center located in Aberdeen, which provides higher education. HCEA: Harford County Education Association. Union that represents more than 2,800 teachers.
ARL: Applied Research Laboratory, located at 10920 Route 108 in Ellicott City.
BSAP: Black Student Achievement Program. Established in 1986, BSAP has worked to close the achievement gap and to prepare black students to excel as leaders.
FCO: Family and Community Outreach Office, located in Faulkner Ridge Center.
FRC: Faulkner Ridge Center, building where PTACHC has an office and teacher resource center, located at 10598 Marble Faun Court in Columbia.
Focus: Newsletter put out by the PTA Council of Howard County.
HCASC: Howard County Association of Student Councils
HCEA: Howard County Education Association, the teachers union.
HCPSS: Howard County Public School System.
PTACHC: PTA Council of Howard County.
SDC: Staff Development Center, located at the Faulkner Ridge Facility.
SMART: Student Mathematics Activity Resource Tools. A Web site that supports the county's math curriculum, with activities for students.