154 terms

Vocab Terms


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Ability grouping
Assigning students to classes based on their past achievement or presumed ability to learn (also known as homogeneous grouping).
The responsibility of an agency to its sponsors and clientele for accomplishing its mission with prudent use of resources. In education, accountability is currently thought to require measurable proof that teachers, schools, districts, and states are teaching students efficiently and well, usually in the form of student success rates on various tests.
Official recognition that an individual or institution meets required standards. Accreditation of teachers is usually referred to as licensing or certification.
Achievement gap
Persistent differences in achievement among different types of students as indicated by scores on standardized tests, teacher grades, and other data. The gaps most frequently referred to are those between whites and minority groups, especially African-Americans and Hispanics.
Achievement tests
Tests used to measure how much a student has learned in various school subjects. Most students take several standardized achievement tests, such as the California Achievement Tests and the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills. These norm-referenced, multiple-choice tests are intended to measure students' achievement in the basic subjects found in most school districts' curriculum and textbooks. Results are used to compare the scores of individual students and schools with others—those in the area, across the state, and throughout the United States.
Action research
Systematic investigation by teachers of some aspect of their work in order to improve their effectiveness. Involves identifying a question or problem and then collecting and analyzing relevant data.
Active learning
Any situation in which students learn by moving around and doing things, rather than sitting at their desks reading, filling out worksheets, or listening to a teacher. Active learning is based on the premise that if students are not active, they are neither fully engaged nor learning as much as they could. Some educators restrict the term to mean activities outside of school, such as voluntary community service, but others would say that acting out a Shakespeare play in the classroom is active learning.
Advanced placement (AP) program
College-level courses offered by high schools to students who are above average in academic standing. Most colleges will award college credit to students who pass one of the nationally standardized AP tests. Passing AP tests can save students time and tuition on entry-level college courses.
Advisory system
A way of organizing schools so that all students have an adult advisor who knows them well and sees them frequently. Although most schools have trained counselors, the counselors work with hundreds of students and cannot see any one student very often. To make advisory groups as small as possible, schools ask staff members who are not classroom teachers—sometimes including the principal, the librarian, or others—to serve as advisors. Most schools schedule periods of time, sometimes daily, for advisory groups to meet for group and individual activities.
Affective education
Schooling that helps student's deal in a positive way with their emotions and values is sometimes called affective to distinguish it from cognitive learning, which is concerned with facts and ideas. Programs designed to help students handle their emotions, which might at one time have been termed affective education, are now more frequently called social and emotional learning.
The effort to ensure that what teachers teach is in accord with what the curriculum says will be taught and what is assessed on official tests.
Alternative assessment
Use of assessment strategies, such as performance assessment, constructed response items, and portfolios, to replace or supplement assessment by machine-scored multiple-choice tests.
alternative scheduling
Sometimes called block scheduling, alternative scheduling is a way of organizing the school day, usually in secondary schools, into blocks of time longer than the typical 50-minute class period.
Alternative schools
Schools that differ in one or more ways from conventional public schools. Alternative schools may reflect a particular teaching philosophy, such as individualization, or a specific focus, such as science and technology. Alternative schools may also operate under different governing principles than conventional schools and be run by organizations other than local school boards.
Alternative teacher certification
A way for individuals to become classroom teachers without completing an undergraduate or graduate program in teacher education. Alternative certification takes into account an individual's background and experience and usually requires some professional training in the first years of teaching.
American College Test (ACT)
The ACT is one of the two commonly used tests designed to assess high school students' general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work.
American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
One of the two large teacher unions (the other is the National Education Association). The AFT represents about 1 million teachers, school support staff, higher education faculty and staff, health-care employees, and state and municipal employees. The AFT is affiliated with the AFL-CIO.
Aptitude tests
Tests that attempt to predict a person's ability to do something. The most familiar are intelligence tests, which are intended to measure a person's intellectual abilities. The theory underlying intelligence tests is that each person's mental ability is relatively stable and can be determined apart from her knowledge of subject matter or other abilities, such as creativity. Some aptitude tests measure a person's natural ability to learn particular subjects and skills or suitability for certain careers.
Measuring the learning and performance of students or teachers. Different types of assessment instruments include achievement tests, minimum competency tests, developmental screening tests, aptitude tests, observation instruments, performance tasks, and authentic assessments.
At-risk students
Students who have a higher than average probability of dropping out or failing school. Broad categories usually include inner-city, low-income, and homeless children; those not fluent in English; and special-needs students with emotional or behavioral difficulties. Substance abuse, juvenile crime, unemployment, poverty, and lack of adult support are thought to increase a youth's risk factor.
Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Children diagnosed with attention deficit disorder tend to have problems staying on task and focusing on conversations or activities. ADD children may be impulsive, easily distracted (e.g., by someone talking in another room or by a passing car), full of unfocused energy, fidgety, and restless.
Authentic assessment
Assessment that measures realistically the knowledge and skills needed for success in adult life. The term is often used as the equivalent of performance assessment, which, rather than asking students to choose a response to a multiple-choice test item, involves having students perform a task, such as serving volleyball, solving a particular type of mathematics problem, or writing a short business letter. There is a distinction, however.
Authentic learning
Schooling related to real-life situations—the kinds of problems faced by adult citizens, consumers, or professionals.
average daily attendance (ADA)
Based on counts taken on predetermined dates during the school year, average daily attendance is a factor used by state and federal departments of education to determine how much money schools are to receive.
Founded in 1943, ASCD—an international, nonprofit association—is one of the largest professional development organizations for educator leaders. It provides world-class education information services, offers cutting-edge professional development for effective teaching and learning, and supports activities to provide educational equity for all students. ASCD's 165,000 members reside in more than 140 countries and include principals, teachers, superintendents, professors of education, and other educators.
Basal reader
Textbooks and anthologies (collections of stories or other writings) used to teach beginning reading. Many basal readers used to have mostly stories written especially for teaching (only certain words were used, as in the Dick and Jane stories), but many now contain a wider variety of children's literature.
Basic skills
The fundamental skills needed to succeed in school and eventually in life. Most people think of basic skills as the ability to read, write, and compute. Others, however, would broaden the term to include such skills as the ability to use a computer, the ability to work cooperatively with others, or even the temperament to cope with continuous change.
behavior modification
Use of an approach based on behavioral science to change a person's way of doing things—specifically, systematic use of rewards, and sometimes punishments, to shape students' classroom deportment. Such systems usually involve explicit objectives, elaborate record keeping, and visible tracking of progress.
Bilingual education
The use of two or more languages for instruction. In the United States, students in most bilingual classes or programs are those who have not acquired full use of the English language, so they are taught academic content in their native language (usually Spanish) while continuing to learn English.
Block grant
The result of combining funding for several separate government programs (usually federal) into a larger program with one set of requirements. A positive feature of such a grant is greater flexibility. When federal funds are released to states in the form of block grants, the individual states have more discretion in allocating the funds.
SUU Block Class
practicum experiences in the schools right before student teaching.
Block scheduling
A way of organizing the school day, usually in secondary schools, into blocks of time longer than the typical 50-minute class period. Students take as many courses as before (sometimes more), but the courses do not run the entire school year.
Bloom's taxonomy
A classification of educational objectives developed in the 1950s by a group of researchers headed by Benjamin Bloom of the University of Chicago. Commonly refers to the objectives for the cognitive domain, which range from knowledge and comprehension (lowest) to synthesis and evaluation (highest). The taxonomy has been widely used by teachers to determine the focus of their instruction and is probably the original reference of the term higher-order thinking.
Brain-based teaching
Approaches to schooling that educators believe are in accord with recent research on the brain and human learning. Advocates say the human brain is constantly searching for meaning and seeking patterns and connections.
Brown v. Board of Education
The case heard by the United States Supreme Court in 1954 in which racial segregation in public schools was held to be unconstitutional.
California Achievement Tests (CATs)
One of several alternative sets of tests commonly used to measure how much a student has learned in various school subjects. Like most other such tests, the California Achievement tests are nationally normed, multiple-choice tests.
Carnegie unit
A measurement used in most high schools to determine how much coursework a student has completed. Students usually need at least 20 Carnegie units to graduate; one unit is equal to a conventional 50-minute class taken five times per week throughout the school year. A one-semester course is worth one-half of a Carnegie unit.
Chapter I
The label assigned at one time to a section of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. The section, which is intended to benefit children who live in high-poverty areas, was originally called Title I, was renamed Chapter I when the legislation was reauthorized, and now is again known as Title I. The current version emphasizes higher learning standards and requires state assessments for measuring student progress.
Character education
Teaching children about basic human values, including honesty, kindness, generosity, courage, freedom, equality, and respect.
Charter school
A self-governing educational facility that operates under contract between the school's organizers and the sponsors (often local school boards but sometimes other agencies, such as state boards of education). The organizers are often teachers, parents, or private organizations. The charter may detail the school's instructional design, methods of assessment, management, and finances.
Chief state school officer
The highest-ranking official responsible for public schools in each state. Because states call their highest-ranking school administrator by different titles—superintendent, commissioner, for example—the national organization of these officials is called the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSO).
Educational programs designed around the assumed characteristics and needs of the child, rather than of parents, teachers, or society.
Classroom climate
The "feel" or tone of a classroom, indicated by the total environment, including especially the way teacher and students relate to one another. Some classrooms have a cold, impersonal, or even antagonistic, climate, while others are warm and friendly. Some are business-like and productive, others disorganized and inefficient.
Classroom management
The way a teacher organizes and administers routines to make classroom life as productive and satisfying as possible.
Educators use this term, commonly used in athletics, to refer to any situation in which someone helps someone else learn a skill.
Cognitive development
The process, which begins at birth, of learning through sensory perception, memory, and observation.
A particular group of people with something in common. For instance, a cohort might be a group of students who had been taught an interdisciplinary curriculum by a team of junior high school teachers. Researchers might want to track their progress into high school to identify differences in success of students in the cohort compared with students who had attended conventional classes in the same school.
A relationship between individuals or organizations that enables the participants to accomplish goals more successfully than they could have separately. Educators are finding that they must collaborate with others to deal with increasingly complex issues. For example, schools and school systems often form partnerships with local businesses or social service agencies.
Competency tests
Tests created by a school district or state that students must pass before graduating. Sometimes called minimum competency tests, such tests are intended to ensure that graduates have reached minimal proficiency in basic skills.
Computer-assisted instruction
Educational programs delivered through the use of computers and educational software. As computers have become more common in schools, the term and its abbreviation, CAI, are used less frequently.CAI has a specific meaning as it applies to special-needs students. Many software programs and features have been designed to help students with dyslexia and poor fine-motor skills. Blind students can work on Braille keyboards and command the computer to call up their work as synthesized speech or as a Braille display. Students with physical challenges can operate computers by activating a switch with their head, foot, mouth, or the blink of an eye.
Constructed response
Test items on which students must provide an answer (short answer, explanation of the process for determining the answer, etc.) in contrast with items (known as selected response or multiple-choice) on which students choose from among answers provided.
An approach to teaching based on research about how people learn. Many researchers say that each individual "constructs" knowledge rather than receiving it from others.
Continuous progress
A system of education in which individuals or small groups of students go through a sequence of lessons at their own pace, rather than at the pace of the entire classroom group. Continuous progress has also been called individualized education or individualized instruction and is one version of mastery learning.
Cooperative learning
A teaching strategy combining teamwork with individual and group accountability. Working in small groups, with individuals of varying talents, abilities, and backgrounds, students are given one or more tasks. The teacher or the group often assigns each team member a personal responsibility that is essential to successful completion of the task
Core curriculum
The body of knowledge that all students are expected to learn.
Criterion-referenced tests
The body of knowledge that all students are expected to learn.
Critical thinking
Logical thinking based on sound evidence; the opposite of biased, sloppy thinking. Some people take the word critical to mean negative and faultfinding, but philosophers consider it to mean thinking that is skillful and responsible. A critical thinker can accurately and fairly explain a point of view that he does not agree with.
Cultural literacy
The idea of E. D. Hirsch, professor of English at the University of Virginia, that there is a certain body of knowledge (core knowledge) that people must know to be well-educated, well-rounded American citizens.
Although this term has many possible meanings, it usually refers to a written plan outlining what students will be taught (a course of study).
plural of curriculum. May be Anglicized as curriculums.
Data-based decision making
Analyzing existing sources of information (class and school attendance, grades, test scores) and other data (portfolios, surveys, interviews) to make decisions about the school. The process involves organizing and interpreting the data and creating action plans.
The deliberate reassignment of decision-making authority from states or districts to local schools based on the beliefs that people who are closest to a situation make better decisions and that people work hardest when implementing their own decisions.
Democratic education
Advocates of democratic education believe that students, if they are to acquire the skills, knowledge, and values they need to perform their roles as citizens in a democracy, should receive a type of education that actively engages them as citizens in their own schools and communities.
Reducing or eliminating grouping by ability, resulting in classes with students from all ability levels.
Developmental screening tests
used to identify students who may have disabilities, sensory impairments (e.g., near-sightedness or reduced hearing), or behavioral and developmental disabilities.
Developmentally appropriate education
Curriculum and instruction that is in accord with the physical and mental development of the student. Developmentally appropriate education is especially important for young children because their physical and mental abilities change quickly and vary greatly from child to child.
Differentiated instruction
A form of instruction that seeks to "maximize each student's growth by meeting each student where she is and helping the student to progress.
Differentiated staffing
The practice of having different instructional roles rather than treating all classroom teachers alike. Various people play a part in the teaching process, but their responsibilities and pay may be greater or lesser than regular teachers. Typical roles include teacher aides, paraprofessionals (or assistant teachers), team leaders, and lead teachers.
Differentiated supervision
A system of supervising teachers that depends on factors including their experience, proven teaching ability, interests, and preferences.
Differentiated teaching
Providing for a range of student differences in the same classroom by using different learning materials, assigning different tasks, and using other practices, such as cooperative learning.
Direct instruction
Instruction in which the teacher explains the intended purpose and presents the content in a clear, orderly way. Contrasts with inductive, discovery, or constructive teaching, in which students are led, by means of investigation or discussion, to develop their own ideas.
Disaggregated data
Test scores or other data divided so that various categories can be compared. For example, schools may break down the data for the entire student population (aggregated into a single set of numbers) to determine how minority students are doing compared with the majority, or how scores of girls compare with those for boys.
Discovery learning
Learning activities designed so that students discover facts and principles themselves rather than having them explained by a textbook or a teacher. These activities are used most often in science classes where, for example, students can directly observe effects of various substances on other substances and infer possible reasons.
Distance learning
Taking classes in locations other than the classroom or places where teachers present the lessons.
In education, discussions about diversity involve recognizing a variety of student needs including those of ethnicity, language, socioeconomic class, disabilities, and gender. School reforms attempt to address these issues to help all students succeed. Schools also respond to societal diversity by attempting to promote understanding and acceptance of cultural and other differences.
Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.
Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA
U.S. legislation passed in 1965 that provided large amounts of federal aid to states and local districts as part of the larger War on Poverty. ESEA must be reauthorized periodically by the Congress. The most well-known provision of ESEA is Title I, which targets funding to schools with high concentrations of economically disadvantaged children in order to improve their educational opportunities.
Education Commission of the States
A nonprofit organization whose purpose is to help governors, state legislators, state education officials, and others develop policies to improve the quality of education at all levels. The commission was formed in 1965 to help states approach education policy decisions in an organized fashion. Members include 49 states (all but Montana), three territories, and the District of Columbia
English language learner
a student whose first language is other than English and who is in a special program for learning English (which may be bilingual education or English as a second language).
Topics and activities that are valuable and interesting to learn but are not basic education—knowledge that is "nice to know" but not necessarily what people need to know.
Equal access
Refers to federal legislation that prohibits public school systems from discriminating against student religious groups. If schools permit other non-curriculum-related student groups, such as a chess club, to meet on school property, they must also permit other voluntary student groups, such as prayer groups, to meet.
The goal of equity is to achieve a high-quality education for all students, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disabilities, or special needs.
English as a second language. Teaching English to non-English-speaking or limited-English-proficient (LEP) students to help them learn and succeed in schools. ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) has generally the same meaning as ESL.
Essential questions
Basic questions, such as "What is distinctive about the American experience?" used to provide focus for a course or a unit of study. Such questions need to be derived from vitally important themes and topics whose answers cannot be summarized neatly and concisely.
an example chosen to illustrate characteristics of a concept. In schools, the term exemplar sometimes refers to samples of student work used to show other students what they are expected to do. An exemplar can also help teachers (and students themselves) evaluate student work when it is completed.
Experiential education
Education that emphasizes personal experience of the learner rather than learning from lectures, books, and other secondhand sources. Experiential education, sometimes called experiential learning, may take the form of internships, service learning, school-to-work programs, field studies, cross-cultural education, and leadership development.
Failing school
Schools, almost always located in urban or low-income rural areas, in which an unacceptably low proportion of students meet established standards, as indicated by test scores. Also called low-performing schools.
Flexible scheduling
Flexible scheduling, or modular scheduling, usually refers to school schedules in which classes are taught for different lengths of time on various days. For the best effect, classes are also different sizes.
Formative assessment (test)
A test given primarily to determine what students have learned in order to plan further instruction. By contrast, an examination used primarily to document students' achievement at the end of a unit or course is considered a summative test.
Four by Four schedules (4x4
A type of block, or alternative, scheduling used in some secondary schools in place of the usual class periods of about 50 minutes. Students take four 90-minute classes a day, with course changes every 45 days (four times a school year).
Full Inclusion
The practice of educating all children in the same classroom, including children with physical, mental, and developmental disabilities. Inclusion classes often require a special assistant to the classroom teacher. In a fully inclusive school or classroom, all of the children follow the same schedules; everyone is involved in the same field trips, extracurricular activities, and assemblies.
Gender Basis
The idea that one gender or the other is short-changed by school practices and expectations. The term may refer to the difficulties boys tend to have in conforming to classroom routines and learning to read and write, or it may refer to lower average achievement by girls in science, mathematics, and technology. Bias is sometimes suspected when test results consistently favor one gender or the other.
General Educational Development Exam (GED)
The GED exam is a high school equivalency test that was first developed in 1942. Each year, approximately 800,000 adults receive a GED diploma—sometimes called an equivalency certificate—certifying that they have skills and knowledge equivalent to those of a high school graduate.
Habits of mind
Mental attitudes and ways of behaving that contribute to success in life, such as being able to make a plan and follow it or to make decisions based on sound information. The habits of mind sought in the Dimensions of Learning program are grouped under the headings of critical thinking, creative thinking, and self-regulated learning.
Heterogeneous grouping
Intentionally mixing students of varying talents and needs in the same classroom (the opposite of homogeneous grouping). The success of this method, also called mixed-ability grouping, depends on the teacher's skill in differentiating instruction so that all students feel challenged and successful.
Hidden curriculum
The habits and values taught in schools that are not specified in the official written curriculum. May refer to what critics see as an overemphasis on obedience, dependence, and conformity.
higher-order thinking
Researcher Lauren Resnick has defined higher-order thinking as the kind of thinking needed when the path to finding a solution is not specified, and that yields multiple solutions rather than one. Higher-order thinking requires mental effort because it involves interpretation, self-regulation, and the use of multiple criteria, which may be conflicting.
As used in bilingual education programs, immersion means having students learn a second language by speaking, hearing, and reading it all day (or part of the day), including being taught several subjects in that language.
The practice of educating all children in the same classroom, including children with physical, mental, and developmental disabilities. Inclusion classes often require a special assistant to the classroom teacher. In a fully inclusive school or classroom, all of the children follow the same schedules; everyone is involved in the same field trips, extracurricular activities, and assemblies.
Individualized Education Program (IEP)
Students with certain special needs, as specified by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), have a legal right to a special plan written by a multidisciplinary team.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
A revision of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, the IDEA is a federal law passed in 1991 and amended in 1997 that guarantees a free appropriate public education for eligible children and youth with disabilities.
Integrated learning systems
Computer-based systems that provide interactive instruction to individual students and maintain records of each student's progress. Sophisticated systems adapt the level of instruction to the student's achievement, giving slower students additional help and moving successful students to more challenging levels.
International baccalaureate (IB)
International baccalaureate, a rigorous, pre-university course of study that leads to examinations accepted by more than 100 countries for university admission. In the Diploma Program, candidates for IB diplomas study languages, sciences, mathematics, and humanities in the final two years of secondary schooling. The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) now also offers the Middle Years Program for student's ages 11-16 and the Primary Years Program for students ages 3-12. The headquarters of the International Baccalaureate Organization is in Geneva, Switzerland, but the IBO also maintains regional offices around the world.
Learning disability
A condition that interferes with a student's ability to learn. Even the definition of this term is controversial. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act amended in 1997 defines a specific learning disability as "a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which disorder may manifest itself in imperfect ability to listen, think, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations. Such term may include such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia." Children not included under this provision include those who have learning problems which are "primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage."
Learning styles
Differences in the way students learn more readily. Scholars have devised numerous ways of classifying style differences, including cognitive style (the way a person tends to think about a learning situation), tendency to use particular senses (seeing, hearing, touching), and other characteristics, such as whether the person prefers to work independently or with others.
Least restrictive environment
A phrase used in the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) to describe the type of setting schools should provide for students with disabilities. The phrase is generally understood to mean that such children should be assigned to regular, rather than special, classrooms to the extent that they can profit from being there and do not interfere too much with the education of others.
Limited-English-proficient (LEP) students
Students who are reasonably fluent in another language but who have not yet achieved comparable mastery in reading, writing, listening, or speaking English. LEP students are often assigned to bilingual education or English-as-a-second-language (ESL) classes.
An informal term for assigning students to the same teacher for more than one school year. Rather than teaching a new group of students at the same grade level each year, teachers stay with the same group of students as they move from grade to grade.
The practice of placing students with disabilities into regular classrooms. The students usually also receive some assistance and instruction in separate classrooms, often called resource rooms.
Mastery learning
A way of organizing instruction that tries to ensure that students have mastered each increment of a subject before going on to the next.
Measurement error
The calculated amount by which a test score may vary from the student's theoretical "true" score (no test can be exact in measuring a student's ability).
The ability to be conscious of and, to some degree, control one's own thinking.
Minimum competency tests
Tests created by a school district or state that students must pass before graduating.
Mixed-ability grouping
Intentionally mixing students of varying talents and needs in the same classroom. The success of this method, also called heterogeneous grouping, depends on the teacher's skill in differentiating instruction so that all students feel challenged and successful.
Multicultural education
Schooling that helps students understand and relate to cultural, ethnic, and other diversity, including religion, language, gender, age, and socioeconomic, mental, and physical differences. Multiculturalism is intended to encourage people to work together and to celebrate differences, not to be separated by them. However, the field itself is controversial.
Multidisciplinary curriculum
Refers to curriculum in more than one discipline or subject area. People may use this term and related ones differently, but, in general, a multidisciplinary curriculum is one in which the same topic (e.g., harmony) is studied from the viewpoint of more than one discipline (e.g., music, history, and literature). For example, students may study weather using a variety of disciplines. They might study the current science behind measuring air pressure, learn about the history of weather prediction, and read and write poetry about weather.
Multiple intelligences
A theory of intelligence developed in the 1980s by Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University. Gardner defines intelligence broadly as "the capacity to solve problems or fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural setting." He originally identified seven intelligences: linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. He later suggested the existence of several others, including naturalist, spiritual, and existential. Everyone has all the intelligences, but in different proportions.
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)
NAEP (pronounced "nape"), is also known as The Nation's Report Card. It is a federally funded program (currently contracted to Educational Testing Service in Princeton, N.J.) that provides information about the achievement of students nationally and state-by-state. NAEP tests a representative sample of students in grades 4, 8, and 12 each year and reports the results to the public.
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)
An independent, nonprofit organization that awards national certification to teachers who successfully complete a set of rigorous assessments. Teachers voluntarily apply for national certification, which complements, but does not replace, state licensing.
Norm-referenced tests
Standardized tests designed to measure how a student's performance compares with that of other students.
Outcome-based education (OBE)
An approach to schooling that makes outcomes—intended results—the key factor in planning and creating educational experiences. In the 1990s, some states and local school systems announced plans to drop some conventional requirements, such as using Carnegie units to measure the amount of learning, and instead to organize instruction around intended outcomes, such as teaching students to be "collaborative workers." Adherents said their intention was to emphasize actual student accomplishment (outcomes) rather than traditional measures of school quality, such as course offerings and teacher qualifications (inputs). They said that the amount of time spent learning and other factors, such as what the student does in order to learn, should depend on the outcome to be achieved. In conventional schooling, they said, time is fixed and outcomes are variable. Instead, outcomes should be fixed and time should be variable.
The art of teaching—especially the conscious use of particular instructional methods. If a teacher uses a discovery approach rather than direct instruction, for example, she is using a different pedagogy.
Performance assessment
A form of assessment that is designed to assess what students know through their ability to perform certain tasks.
Performance tasks
Activities, exercises, or problems that require students to show what they can do. Some performance tasks are intended to assess a skill, such as solving a particular type of mathematics problem. Others are designed to have students demonstrate their understanding by applying knowledge.
A collection of student work chosen to exemplify and document a student's learning progress over time.
Problem-based learning
an approach to curriculum and teaching that involves students in solution of real-life problems rather than conventional study of terms and information. Developed in leading medical schools, problem-based learning begins with a real problem that connects to the student's world, such as how to upgrade a local waste treatment plant. Student teams organize their methods and procedures around specifics of the problem, not around subject matter as such. Students explore various avenues before arriving at a solution to present to the class. Teachers report that students using problem-based learning become more interested in their studies, more motivated to explore in-depth, and more likely to see the value of the lesson.
Professional development
Also known as staff development, this term refers to experiences, such as attending conferences and workshops, that help teachers and administrators build knowledge and skills.
Pull-out programs
Programs that provide assistance (often remediation) to individual children by "pulling them out" of regular classes. Because doing this results in children missing instruction that their classmates receive, such programs can put these children at a disadvantage, especially because they were already those most in need. For this reason—even though some such programs have been quite effective—pull-out programs are now discouraged in federal policy, with comprehensive school reform favored instead.
Pygmalion effect
The effect of teacher expectations on student performance. Extensive research has documented that student achievement can be affected by what students' teachers think they can do.
Quantitative Research
Research conducted in a traditional scientific manner using statistical procedures to compare the effects of one treatment with another. For example, a researcher might compare test scores of students taught using an experimental method with the scores of students taught in a more conventional way.
Qualitative Research
Research that uses methods adapted from anthropology and other social sciences, including systematic observation and interviews. Until recently, most educational research was quantitative. Some researchers are now using qualitative methods because they think statistical processes will not produce the understandings they seek.
In testing, an estimate of how closely the results of a test would match if the tests were given repeatedly to the same student under the same conditions (and there was no practice effect).
Resource room
A special education classroom where students can go for additional help mastering academic skills. Some schools offer this resource to any student who desires help in a given subject area, but usually students with learning disabilities or other special needs are assigned to the resource room for a certain number of hours each week.
Specific descriptions of performance of a given task at several different levels of quality. Teachers use rubrics to evaluate student performance on performance tasks.
The way a teacher provides support to make sure students succeed at complex tasks they couldn't do otherwise. Most teaching is done as the students go about the task, rather than before they start. For example, as a group of elementary students proceed to publish a student newspaper, the teacher shows them how to conduct interviews, write news stories, and prepare captions for photographs. Because the teacher supports the students to make sure they don't fail in their effort, it reminds researchers of the scaffolding that workers sometimes place around buildings. As the students become more skillful, the teacher gives them more responsibility, taking away the scaffolding when it is no longer needed. (This gradual withdrawal has been called "fading.")
Selected response
Preferred by some testing specialists over the more common term "multiple choice" because it is more specific and contrasts with "constructed response," meaning items that require the student to provide an answer.
Service Learning
Provisions for making community service part of the school's educational program. At the high school level, this means awarding school credit for such service. Students usually work on site at such locations as soup kitchens, recycling centers, homeless shelters, and community hospital fairs. Some high schools require that students earn a certain number of credits in service learning in order to graduate.
Sheltered instruction
Teaching limited-English-speaking students by using simplified English that is relatively easy to understand and learn.
In current usage, the term usually refers to specific criteria for what students are expected to learn and be able to do. These standards usually take two forms in the curriculum:
Content standards
(similar to what were formerly called goals and objectives), which tell what students are expected to know and be able to do in various subject areas, such as mathematics and science.
Performance standards
, which specify whatlevels of learning, are expected. Performance standards assess the degree to which content standards have been met. The term "world-class standards" refers to the content and performances that are expected of students in other industrialized countries. In recent years, standards have also been developed specifying what teachers should know and be able to do.
Summative assessment/test
A test given to evaluate and document what students have learned. The term is used to distinguish such tests from formative tests, which are used primarily to diagnose what students have learned in order to plan further instruction.
Title 1
Refers to Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, which is intended to improve education in high-poverty communities by targeting extra resources to schools and school districts with the highest concentrations of poverty. These are areas in which academic performance tends to be low and the obstacles to raising performance are the greatest.
The practice of dividing students for instruction according to their perceived abilities. Students are placed on a particular track (college-bound, general, vocational, and remedial) and given a curriculum that varies according to their perceived abilities and future positions in life. At the elementary level, the practice is called grouping.
Trade books
Individual novels and storybooks that are available for purchase at most retail bookstores. Some teachers incorporate trade books into their lessons, especially in English and history, to create more varied and interesting units of study. Some elementary reading programs depend almost entirely on trade books rather than basal texts.
Ungraded school
A way of organizing schools that uses individual student progress, rather than age or grade level, to determine when students move from one stage of schooling to another. In an ungraded (also called nongraded) primary school, some students take longer than others to move into 4th grade from a primary-level multi-age classroom (kindergarten through 3rd grade). Students are not classified by grade levels and not evaluated using traditional letter grades (A, B, C, D, F), but their achievement is carefully monitored.
Unit of study
A segment of instruction focused on a particular topic. School courses are frequently divided into units lasting from one to six weeks. For example, an American history course might include a four-week unit on the Westward Movement.
In testing, validity means how well a test measures what it is intended to measure. For example, a test in history may be so difficult for young students to read that it is more of a reading test than a test of historical knowledge. That makes it invalid for its intended purpose.
A certificate issued to parents that can be used as full or partial payment of tuition for any nonpublic school.
Whole Language
A technique for teaching language arts that emphasizes the reading and writing of whole texts (sometimes beginning with picture books) before analyzing words and individual letter sounds.
Whole texts
(sometimes beginning with picture books) before analyzing words and individual letter sounds.
Year-round school
Replacing the conventional school year of 9-10 months and a long summer break with a continuous school year with breaks at other times. Advocates say the traditional school calendar reflects a society that needed children home in the summer to work on farms. In today's society, children are frequently left home alone in the summer with little to do.
Z score
A statistical measure that quantifies the distance a data point is from the mean of a data set.
Zero tolerance
Provisions in legislation or official policies that require specified punishments for given offenses, no matter how slight the offense. Zero tolerance rules are adopted to send a message about unacceptable behavior, and adherents support them for that reason. However, school administrators who are permitted no flexibility in enforcing such rules are sometimes ridiculed in the press for their apparent poor judgment.