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Friday, January 7, 2011

Alphabet Soup

Perhaps most professions, and nearly every workplace, has their own language to describe and explain procedures and practices. We've all been in hospitals and overheard terms broadcast on the intercom that mean nothing to us. We've been confused by legal phrases bandied about by lawyers. The sports world abounds with words and acronyms that render us senseless. Although these examples and many more like them may be the norm, education should be free of acronyms and other disturbingly confusing descriptors because schools are so public in stature, and represent an institution trafficked by a large percentage of the populace.

I recently suggested during a District Leadership Team meeting that any members guilty of using an acronym should toss a quarter into a jar for later use by the council. This is particularly vexing since we have learners and parents among our membership. I am providing a glossary in an effort to translate educational gibberish for the layperson. Much of the list has been extracted from the North Carolina Department of Education. The compilation will likely fall far short of every term you've been puzzled by, but here it is:

American College Test. An assessment taken by students as a precursor to college/university admission.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a neurobehavioral developmental disorder. It is primarily characterized by the co-existence of attentional problems and hyperactivity, with each behavior occurring infrequently alone and symptoms starting before seven years of age.
Average Daily Membership. The number of days a student is in membership at a school divided by the number of days in a school month or school year.
Academic Intervention Services. These support services are available to learners who receive a score of 1 or 2 on state mandated tests.
Advanced Placement. A program that enables high school students to complete college-level courses for college placement and/or credit.
Adaptive Physical Education is a direct service that can be provided to a special needs child, should the Committee on Preschool Special Education or the Committee on Special Education determine that the child is in need of such service. In many cases, if a child is identified as visually impaired, physically handicapped, severely multiply impaired, or other health impaired, he or she will be warranted APE services.
Adaptive Physical Education  is an adapted, or modified, physical education program designed to meet the individualized gross motor needs, or other disability-related challenges, of an identified student. The program can be provided one-on-one, in a small group, or within the general physical education setting.
Adequate Yearly Progress. All public schools must measure and report AYP as outlined in the federal No Child Left Behind law. AYP measures the yearly progress of different groups of students at the school, district and state levels against yearly targets in reading and mathematics. Target goals are set for attendance and graduation rates as well. If a school misses one target, it does not make AYP.
The Comprehensive Educational Plan process is designed to reflect requirements identified in NCLB that will assist schools to implement programs to meet the instructional needs of all students.
Students who are suspected of having a learning disability are referred to a multidisciplinary team called the Committee on Special Education. The Committee on Special Education is responsible for servicing children with disabilities from 5 to 21 years of age. Children who are identified as having a learning disability are referred for Special Education. Special Education means specially designed individualized or group instruction or special services or special programs to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities.
English Language Learner. Student whose first language is one other than English and who needs language assistance to participate fully in the regular curriculum.
Elementary and Secondary Education Act. This is the principal federal law affecting K-12 education. When the ESEA of 1965 was reauthorized and amended in 2002, it was renamed the No Child Left Behind Act.
English as a Second Language. A program model that delivers specialized instruction to students who are learning English as a new language.
Grade point average.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This federal law, reauthorized in 2004, is designed to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free and appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living.
Individualized Education Program. The IEP is a written statement for a student with a disability that is developed, at least annually, by a team of professionals knowledgeable about the student and the parent. The plan describes the strengths of the child and the concerns of the parents for enhancing the education of their child, and when, where, and how often services will be provided. The IEP is required by federal law for all exceptional children and must include specific information about how the student will be served and what goals he or she should be meeting.
The Instructional Support Team is an innovative program whose goals are to maximize individual student success in the regular classroom, while at the same time serving as a screening process for students who may be in a need of special education services. It is a positive, success-oriented program which uses specific assessment and intervention techniques to help remove educational, behavioral, or affective stumbling blocks for all students in the regular classroom.
Local Education Agency. Synonymous with a local school system or a local school district, indicating that a public board of education or other public authority maintains administrative control of the public schools in a city or county.
Limited English Proficient. Students whose first language is one other than English who need language assistance to participate fully in the regular curriculum and the statewide assessment system.
No Child Left Behind. NCLB is the 2002 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and represents a sweeping change in the federal government's role in local public education. NCLB's primary goal is for all public school children to be proficient or above in reading and mathematics by 2013-14. Title I schools that do not meet certain student achievement standards face sanctions under this law.
NovaNet is the computer based instructional program used at Heatly that diagnoses the needs of individual learners and prescribes a path of learning activities with frequent assessments to monitor progress and guide the individual to successfully recover credit in a class they had previously failed or achieved at lee than acceptable levels of performance.
Professional Development represents opportunities for educators to acquire additional skill training.
Pre-Scholastic Assessment Test. Normally taken by high school juniors as a practice test for the SAT. Some schools use the PSAT as a diagnostic tool to identify areas where students may need additional assistance or placement in more rigorous courses.
The Parent Teacher Organization is a voluntary group comprised of parents of Green Island learners who have banded together to support the school through fund raising efforts and program development.
Academic Intervention Services and Special Education services may be delivered to learners with the classroom when the teacher "pushes in" or when the learners leave the classroom for another location in a "pull out" manner.
The Race to the Top is a $4.35 billion dollar competitive grant based, federally supported, initiative that emphasizes the following reform areas: Designing and implementing rigorous standards and high-quality assessments; Attracting and keeping great teachers and leaders in America’s classrooms; Supporting data systems that inform decisions and improve instruction; Using innovation and effective approaches to turn-around struggling schools; and Demonstrating and sustaining education reform. New York state was recently awarded approximately $700 million dollars to stimulate school improvements among the districts across the state. Green Island receives $15,320 spread over a four year period to direct efforts in curriculum, instruction, and data management.
Response to Intervention seeks to prevent academic failure through early intervention, frequent progress measurement, and increasingly intensive research-based instructional interventions for children who continue to have difficulty.
The SAT is often taken by high school juniors and seniors as a precursor to college/university admission. It assesses a student's verbal, mathematical and writing skills.
Supplemental Services, external to the school itself, are made available to those learners who score a 1 or a 2 on state mandated tests and require additional support. This is an option extended to parents as a choice.
Title I
Title I is the largest federal education funding program for schools. Its aim is to help students who are behind academically or at risk of falling behind. School funding is based on the number of low-income children, generally those eligible for the free and reduced price lunch program. Many of the major requirements in the No Child Left Behind federal law are outlined in Title I – Adequate Yearly Progress, teacher and paraprofessional standards, accountability, sanctions for schools designated for improvement, standards and assessments, annual state report cards, professional development and parent involvement. Title I used to be known as Chapter I.
Title III
Title III is the section of No Child Left Behind that provides funding and addresses English language acquisition and standards and accountability requirements for limited English proficient students.
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.

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