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.