• Glossary of Educational Terms

    Decoding the language of public education

    In public education, as in most specialized professions, educators use terms that may be unfamiliar. The following is a list of commonly used terms and acronyms and their meanings.

    Absence: Lack of attendance at school, measured by missing more than 50 percent of a day.

    Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP): Required under No Child Left Behind, AYP provides another way to measure school performance with the long-term goal of every student being proficient by 2014.

    Adult Education: Day and evening programs for students 17 years of age and above that offer the following: GED preparation; high school diploma completion; reading and math skills improvement; high school exit exam preparation; ASVAB preparation; English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL); computer literacy; and WorkKeys.

    Advanced Placement (AP): The AP program enables high school students to complete college- level courses for college placement and/or credit.

    Alternative School: A centralized program of educational services for students in grades 6-12 that have been removed from their assigned schools due to serious or repetitive disciplinary issues.

    Appeal Hearing: The due process of appealing the decision of the hearing officer that is made after a student's evidentiary hearing. Assessment: Any tool or strategy used to measure what students know, understand, and are able to do. Assessment is another word for "test."

    At-Risk: A phrase that is generally used to describe factors that may inhibit or impede a student's likelihood for success in school. Examples may include poverty, frequent absenteeism, frequent disciplinary problems, etc.

    ADA (Average Daily Attendance): ADA calculates the frequency at which students attend school. Attendance rates are used in calculating the federal measure of Adequate Yearly Progress.

    Bond: A financing instrument used by districts to fund building construction and acquisition of fixed assets. It is structured to pay a specific sum of money at a fixed time in the future at a stated rate of interest.

    Carnegie Unit: High school course credit is awarded in terms of Carnegie Units. Twenty-four (24) units are required for graduation.

    Certification: Certification is awarded by the South Carolina Department of Education that "certifies" an employee as having met the minimum requirements to teach in South Carolina. Certifications are specific to grade level and/or content area.

    Child Development: The program of study that provides educational and related services to identified three and four-year old students. Comprehension: The ability to understand and gain meaning from what has been read.

    Cross Categorical: A term to describe a classroom setting where a teacher may serve special education students that have multiple identified needs.

    Debt Service: A fund or the amount of money required to pay interest and principal on outstanding debt.

    Detention: A form of discipline that may require the student to be detained before school, during recess, during lunch, or after school.

    Dual Credit: Some classes selected by students at the high school level may be eligible for dual credit, thereby gaining them a Carnegie Unit for high school as well as a credit applicable to higher education.

    Education Finance Act of 1977 (EFA): A state law which drastically reformed the method of state funding for public schools to consider a district's relative wealth in the distribution of funds.

    Education Improvement Act of 1984 (EIA): A state education funding reform law that is funded by a one-cent sales tax.

    EOC (Education Oversight Committee): The EOC is an independent, nonpartisan group made up of 18 educators, business people, and elected officials who have been appointed by the legislature and governor to enact the South Carolina Education Accountability Act of 1998. The Act sets standards for improving the state's K-12 educational system. The EOC provides regular, routine, and ongoing review of the state's education improvement process, assesses how our schools are doing and evaluates the standards our schools must meet to build the education system needed to compete in the next century.

    End-of-Course Examination Program (EOCEP): The EOCEP requires middle school, high school, alternative school, adult education, and home school students who are enrolled in Algebra 1/Math for the Technologies 2, English 1, and Physical Science to take test based on the curriculum standards for those courses. The result of each test counts for 20 percent of a student's final grade. An EOC test in U.S. History and Constitution was added during the 2006- 2007 school year and will count toward final grades for the fall 2007 semester.

    Evidentiary Hearing: When a special needs student commits behavioral infractions that warrant a possible expulsion, an evidentiary hearing is first held to determine if the student's action is related to his or her disability.

    Expulsion: Disciplinary action resulting in a student losing the opportunity to attend school or after- school activities and events for a period of time, not to exceed a calendar year.

    FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act): Deals with access to student records and define what information is considered public and what information is available to parents regarding their children. Information deemed public includes the name, address, telephone number, date of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance for students.

    Fluency: The capacity to read text accurately and quickly.

    HSAP (High School Assessment Program): HSAP meets both federal and state accountability requirements. Students first take HSAP their second year of high school and may retake the test during following years if necessary. Passage of the HSAP, also known as the Exit Exam, is required to receive a state high school diploma. It measures student achievement in the areas of English language arts and mathematics.

    Honors: The middle school instructional program for students identified for gifted services. 

    Gifted and Talented: Students may be identified for supplemental educational services when

    identified as "gifted" by state-established criteria.

    Grievance: An official complaint of wrongdoing, or a breach in policy or due process, that warrants administrative review.

    Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): This federal act requires all states to develop alternate assessments for students with disabilities for whom the standard statewide assessment program is not appropriate.

    Individualized Education Program (IEP): An IEP is a written plan for a student with a disability that is developed, at least annually, by a team of professionals knowledgeable about the student.

    IB (International Baccalaureate): A rigorous international program of study, in which the students take a unique course of study based on international standards.

    Intersession: Students on a year-round schedule attend school for 45-day sessions before having a three-week break, or intersession.

    Lawful Absence: An absence from school for a reason that is determined excused. Examples of a lawful absence are, but are not limited to, bereavement, judicial appointments, personal illness, etc.

    Lexile: A Lexile measure is a reading ability or text difficulty score. Limited English Proficient (LEP): LEP is the identification of students whose first language is one other than English. These students receive language assistance to participate fully in the regular curriculum.

    Measures of Academic Progress (MAP): MAP testing allows teachers to measure a student's academic growth from year to year in the areas of mathematics, reading, and language usage through a computerized testing system.

    Mentor: A mentor's main role is to be a caring adult and to provide support for a student's academic, social, and development progress. Mentors are generally multi-year commitments to enable a healthy and trusting relationship to develop between the mentor and the mentee.

    Mill: A unit of taxation known as "millage" used to set property taxes. National Board Certification: A voluntary system of professional development that certifies that recipients meet professional standards for accomplished teaching.

    NCLB (No Child Left Behind): NCLB represents a sweeping change in the federal government's role in local public education. NCLB has a variety of goals, but the most dominant ones are for every school to be at 100 percent proficiency by 2014.

    Online Courses: Classes that are delivered to students via the Internet.

    Phonics: The relationship between the letters of written language and the sounds of spoken


    Policy Governance: A system of oversight that defines the roles and responsibilities of the governing school board and the superintendent.

    Probation: A disciplinary action that may allow a student to continue to attend school, provided he/she complies with certain conditions.

    RIT Score: A level of performance indicated on a developmental scale to monitor student academic growth. RIT scales are unique to each subject area.

    Referendum: A public vote on a particular issue, usually a request to increase taxes for a specific building or other capital needs of a district.

    School Psychologists: School psychologists are highly trained in both psychology and education. They help children and youth succeed academically, socially, and emotionally.

    Service Learning: Service-learning combines school curriculum and service to the community. Students learn and develop through thoughtfully organized service that meets the needs of their school and/or community.

    Smart Board: A large white board, an approximately 5X6 foot in dimension, that is interactive to the instructor's or student's commands. A Smartboard is linked to a computer. The teacher creates classroom presentations, which allow touch technology, remote interaction, and handwriting.

    SASI: A student information system which provides administrators and teachers with a wide array of flexible, yet easy-to-use tools for monitoring and tracking individual student information, attendance, discipline, medical information, and academic progress.

    Student Study Team (SST): A team of educators who work to provide
    early assessment of students who are experiencing academic and/social difficulties. This SST examines evidence and the environment to determine appropriate interventions.

    Supplemental Services: Students from low-income families who attend schools that have been identified as in need of improvement for two years are be eligible to receive tutoring or academic assistance.

    Suspension: A penalty that may be given when a student commits a behavioral infraction. The results could be in-school suspension (served at the school) or out-of-school suspension (attendance at school and school activities is denied).

    Title I: A federal funding program for schools to help students who are behind academically or at risk of falling behind. Funding is based on the number of low-income children in a school, generally those eligible for the free lunch program. Title I money supplements state and district funds.

    Title IX: Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 bans sex discrimination in schools receiving federal funds, whether it is in academics or athletics.

    Truant: A student, under the age of 17, who is excessively absent from school. This is a violation of state law.

    Unlawful Absence: An unexcused absence occurs when a student misses school without an authorized reason.

    WRAP Services: A system of support services and interventions designed to help students deal with behavioral issues as they attend school.