Confused about the difference between “AYP” and “AP?”  Not sure what “block scheduling” is?  This glossary of education terms can help.   Glossary provided by the Virginia Department of Education.

Glossary of Education Terms
General Terms

Accountability — measurable proof, usually in the form of student results on various tests, that teachers,
schools, divisions and states are teaching students efficiently and well, usually in the form of student
success rates on various tests; Virginia’s accountability programs is known as the Standards of Learning
which includes curriculum standards approved by the Board of Education and required state tests based
on the standards.

Accreditation — a process used by the Virginia Department of Education to evaluate the educational
performance of public schools in accordance regulations

Achievement gap
— the difference between the performance of subgroups of students, especially those
defined by gender, race/ethnicity, disability and socioeconomic status

ACT — one of the two commonly used tests designed to assess high school students’ general
educational development and their ability to complete college-level work in four skill areas: English,
mathematics, reading, and science reasoning

Adequate yearly progress (AYP) — a measurement indicating whether a school, division or the state
met federally approved academic goals required by the federal Elementary and Secondary Education
Act/No Child Left Behind Act (ESEA/NCLB)

Adult/Continuing education — a program of instruction provided by an adult/continuing education
instructional organization for adults and youth beyond the age of compulsory school attendance including
basic education and English literacy, English for speakers of other languages, civics education, GED
testing services, adult secondary education and Individualized Student Alternative Education Plan
(ISAEP) programs

Advanced Placement (AP) — college-level courses available to high school students which may allow a
student to earn college credit provided through the College Board

Alignment — 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 — a method to measure student educational attainment other than the typical
multiple-choice test which may include portfolios, constructed response items and other performancemeasurement
tools

Alternative education — a school or center organized for alternative programs of instruction

Assessment — method of measuring the learning and performance of students; examples include
achievement tests, minimum competency tests, developmental screening tests, aptitude tests,
observation instruments, performance tasks, etc.
At-risk students — students who have a higher than average probability of dropping out or failing
school.

Average daily membership (ADM) — the K-12 enrollment figure used to distribute state per pupil
funding that includes students with disabilities ages 5-21, and students for whom English is a second
language who entered school for the first time after reaching their 12th birthday, and who have not
reached their 22nd birthday; preschool and post-graduate students are not included in ADM

Benchmark — a standard for judging performance

Block scheduling — a way of organizing the school day into blocks of time longer than the typical 50-
minute class period; with the 4X4 block students take four 90-minute classes each day allowing for
completion of an entire course in one semester instead of a full year; with an A/B or rotating block
students take six to eight classes for an entire year but classes in each subject meet on alternate days for
90 minutes

Charter school — a school controlled by a local school board that provides free public elementary and/or
secondary education to eligible students under a specific charter granted by the state legislature or other
appropriate authority, and designated by such authority to be a charter school

Class period — a segment of time in the school day that is approximately 1/6 of the instructional day.

Cohort — a particular group of people with something in common

College Board — the organization that administers SAT, AP and other standardized tests to high school
students planning on continuing their educations at a post-secondary level

Combined school — a public school that contains any combination of or all K-12 grade levels that are
not considered an elementary, middle or secondary school

Composite index of local ability to pay — a formula to determine the state and local government
shares of K-12 education program costs, which is expressed as a ratio, indicating the local percentage
share of the cost of education programs; for example, a locality with a composite index of 0.3000 would
pay 30 percent and the state would pay 70 percent of the costs

Confined — due to physical, medical or emotional impairments based on certification of need, a student
is restricted or limited from attendance at a regular public school during the regular school hours; this
does not apply to situations where a student is restricted for discipline or non-medically based situations

Core curriculum — the body of knowledge that all students are expected to learn in the subjects of
English, mathematics, history/social science and science

Curriculum — a plan or document that a school or school division uses to define what will be taught and
the methods that will be used to educate and assess students

Curriculum alignment — occurs when what is taught includes or exceeds the content defined by the
Standards of Learning (SOL)

Data-based decision making (also referred to as “research-based decision making”) — organizing,
analyzing and interpreting existing sources of information and other data to make decisions

Direct aid to public education — funding appropriated for the operation of public schools including
funding for school employee benefits, Standards of Quality, incentive-based programs, allotment of sales
tax and lottery revenues and specific appropriations for programs such as Governor’s Schools and adult
literacy initiatives

Disaggregated data — presentation of data broken into subgroups of students instead of the entire
student body which allows parents and teachers to measure how each student group is performing;
typical subgroups include students who are economically disadvantaged, from different racial or ethnic
groups, those who have disabilities or have limited English fluency.

Distance learning — method of instruction in locations other than the classroom or places where
teachers present the lessons, which uses various forms of technology to provide educational materials
and experiences to students

Dropouts — students who leave high school before receiving a diploma.

Early childhood education — the education of young children, especially under the age of 5

Economically disadvantaged — a student who is a member of a household that meets the income
eligibility guidelines for free or reduced-price school meals (less than or equal to 185% of Federal Poverty
Guidelines)

Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA) — the primary federal law affecting K-12 education;
the most recent reauthorization of the law is also known as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB)

Elementary school — a public school with grades kindergarten through five

Eligible students — the total number of students of school age enrolled in the school at a grade or
course with a Standards of Learning test; does not include students who are allowed an exclusion such
as limited English proficient (LEP) students or some students with disabilities

English as a second language (ESL) — a program of instruction and services for non-English-speaking
or limited-English-proficient students to help them learn and succeed in schools

English-language learners (ELL) — a student whose first language is other than English and who is in a
special program for learning English

Enrollment — the act of complying with state and local requirements for registration or admission of a
child for attendance in a school within a local school division; also refers to registration for courses within
the student’s home school or within related schools or programs

Even Start — a federally funded program that provides family-centered education projects to help
parents become full partners in the education of their children

First time — the student has not been enrolled in the school at any time during the current school year

Four core subject/academic areas — English, mathematics, science and history/social science for
purposes of SOL testing

Free and appropriate public education (FAPE) — requirement through the federal Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that education of students with disabilities (between the ages of 3 and
22) must be provided at public expense, under public supervision, at no charge to the parents and based
on the child’s unique needs and not on the child’s disability

General education — K-12 instruction that meets the commonwealth’s Standards of Learning and
prepares children for elementary, secondary and postsecondary success

Gifted — programs that provide advanced educational opportunities including accelerated promotion
through grades and classes and an enriched curriculum for students who are endowed with a high degree
of mental ability

Governor’s school — a school serving gifted high school students who meet specific admissions criteria
for advanced educational opportunities in areas including the arts, government and international studies,
mathematics, science, and technology; both academic-year and summer governor’s schools are offered

Graduate — a student who has earned a Board of Education recognized diploma: advanced studies,
advanced technical, standard, standard technical, modified standard, special or general achievement.

Head Start — a federally funded child-development program that provides health, educational, nutritional,
social and other services to pre-school children from economically disadvantaged families

Home-based instruction — non-reimbursable educational services provided in the home setting (or
other agreed upon setting) in accordance with the student’s individual education program who were
removed from school for disciplinary or other reasons, but not the result of a medical referral

Homebound instruction — academic instruction provided to students who are confined at home or in a
health-care facility for periods that would prevent normal school attendance based upon certification of
need by a licensed physician or licensed clinical psychologist. For a student with a disability, the

Individual Education Program (IEP) team must determine the delivery of services, including the number of
hours of services.

Home instruction (also referred to as “home schooling”) — instruction of a student or students by a
parent or parents, guardian or other person having control or charge of such student or students as an
alternative to attendance in a public or private school in accordance with the provisions of the Code of
Virginia provisions (§22.1-254.1)

Home tutoring — instruction by a tutor or teacher with qualifications prescribed by the Virginia Board of
Education, as an alternative to attendance in a public or private school and approved by the division
superintendent in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Virginia §22.1-254; often used as an
alternative form of home schooling

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) — federal law guiding the delivery of special
education services for students with disabilities which includes the guarantee of “free and appropriate
public education” for every school-age child with a disability and allows parental involvement in the
educational planning process, encourages access to the general curriculum and delineates how school
disciplinary rules and the obligation to provide a free appropriate public education for disabled children
mesh

Individualized education program (IEP) — a written plan created for a student with disabilities by the

student’s teachers, parents or guardians, the school administrator, and other interested parties. The plan
is tailored to the student’s specific needs and abilities, and outlines attainable goals.

Individualized education program team (IEP Team) — team charged with developing, reviewing and
revising a student’s IEP and consisting of the parent(s), the child (if appropriate), a regular education
teacher, a special education teacher, an administrator qualified to supervise the provision of services and
an individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results

Individualized family service plan (IFSP) — a written plan outlining the procedure necessary to
transition a child with disabilities to preschool or other appropriate services

International Baccalaureate (IB) — a program established to provide an internationally recognized;
interdisciplinary; pre-collegiate course of study offered through the International Baccalaureate
Organization, headquartered in Switzerland, and examination results are accepted by more than 100
countries for university admission.

Licensed clinical psychologist — a psychologist licensed by the Virginia Board of Psychology who
must either be in a treatment relationship or establishing a treatment relationship with the student to meet
eligibility requirements for requesting homebound services

Licensed physician — an individual who has been licensed by the Virginia Board of Medicine to practice
medicine who can certify medical conditions for requesting homebound services

Licensed teacher — an individual who has met all the current requirements for a teacher in the Virginia
and holds a license from the Virginia State Board of Education, or, if teaching on-line, a license from
Virginia or another state

Limited-English proficient (LEP) —see English-language learners

Linear weighted average — a calculation, approximating what most school divisions spend to operate
their schools, used to establish the funded cost of many components of the Standards of Quality (SOQ),
such as instructional salaries.

Literary fund — established in the Constitution of Virginia (Article VIII, § 8) as a permanent and
perpetual school fund that provides low-interest loans to school divisions for capital expenditures, such as
construction of new buildings or remodeling of existing buildings.

Locally awarded verified credit — a verified unit of credit awarded by a local school board in
accordance with the SOA

Magnet school/center (also referred to as “specialty school/center”) — a public school that focuses
on a particular area of study, such as performing arts or science and technology but also offer regular
school subjects

Middle school — a public school with grades 6 through 8

Migrant Education — a program of instruction and services for children who move periodically with their
families from one school to another in a different geographical area to secure seasonal employment

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) (also referred to as “the Nation’s Report
Card”) — the only nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know
and can do in various subject areas including mathematics, reading, science, writing, U.S. history,
geography, civics and the arts; the federally funded program (currently contracted to Educational Testing
Service in Princeton, N.J.) tests a representative sample of students in grades 4, 8 and 12 and provides
information about the achievement of students nationally and state-by-state

National Blue Ribbon Award — honors public and private K-12 schools that are either academically
superior in their states or that demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement; awarded annually by
the U.S. Department of Education through the Blue Ribbon Schools Program

Nation’s Report Card — see “National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)”

No Child Left behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) — see “Elementary & Secondary Education Act”

Norm-referenced tests — standardized tests designed to measure how a student’s performance
compares with that of other students

Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) — state-provided K-3 screening tool to help
reduce the number of children with reading problems by detecting those problems early and providing
research-based, small-group intervention

Pedagogy — the art of teaching

Planning period — one class period per day (or the equivalent) unencumbered of any teaching or
supervisory duties

Portfolio — a collection of student work chosen to exemplify and document a student’s learning progress
over time

Pre-school child care — a school-operated program that provides custodial care of pre-school students
enrolled in a school or system before school day starts and/or after a school day ends.

Proficient — test results indicating that the student demonstrated the skills and knowledge outlined in the
Standards of Learning (SOL)

Professional/staff development — training for teachers, principals, superintendents, administrative
staff, local school board members and Board of Education members designed to enhance student
achievement and is required by the Standards of Quality (SOQ)

Psychiatrist — an medical doctor who has been licensed by the Virginia Board of Medicine and trained
to practice in the science of treating mental diseases

Reading First — federal program focuses on putting proven methods of early reading instruction into
classrooms to ensure all children learn to read well by the end of third grade

Recess — a segment of free time during the standard school day in which students are given a break
from instruction

Reconstitution — for a school rated accreditation denied, it is a process to initiate a range of
accountability actions to improve pupil performance and to address deficiencies in curriculum and
instruction; may include, but is not limited to, restructuring a school’s governance, instructional program
staff or student population

Regular school year — the period of time between the opening day of school in the fall and the closing
day of school for that school term that is at minimum 180 teaching days or 990 teaching hours

Remedial program — a program designed to remedy, strengthen and improve the academic
achievement of students who demonstrate substandard performance

Research-based decision making — see “data-based decision making”

Response to intervention (RTI) — a method designed to identify and provide early, effective assistance
to children who are having difficulty learning: Tier 1 students need extra help understanding the core
curriculum, Tier 2 students consistently showing a discrepancy between their current level of performance
and the expected level of performance, and Tier 3 students need even more support

Restructuring — the implementation of a new organizational pattern or style of leadership and
management to bring about renewed, more effective schools. It can mean reorganizing the school day or
year and changing conventional practices, such as grouping students by age for an entire school year or
giving competitive grades. Or it may refer to changing the roles of teachers and administrators, allocating
more decision-making power to teachers, and involving parents in decisions

Sampling — a way of estimating how a whole group would perform on a test by testing representative
members of the group or giving different portions of the test to various subgroups

SAT — one of the two commonly used tests designed to assess high school students’ general
educational development and required for college entrance by many institutions of higher education;
administered by The College Board

School — a publicly funded institution where students are enrolled for all or a majority of the instructional
day; those students are reported in fall membership at the institution and the institution, at minimum,
meets requirements adopted by the Board of Education.

School age — a child who is age 5 on or before September 30 and has not reached age 20; compulsory
attendance school age is 5-18

Secondary school — a public school with any grades 9 through 12

Special education (SPED) — a service especially designed and at no cost to the parent/guardian that
adapts the curriculum, materials or instruction for students identified as having educational or physical
disabilities and tailored to each student’s needs and learning style and provided in a general education or
special education classroom, home, hospital, separate school or other setting

Specialty school — see “magnet school/center”

Standardized testing — tests administered and scored under uniform (standardized) conditions.
Because most machine-scored, multiple-choice tests are standardized, the term is sometimes used to
refer to such tests, but other tests may also be standardized.

Standard school day — a calendar day that averages at least five and one-half instructional hours for
students in grades 1-12, excluding breaks for meals and recess, and a minimum of three instructional
hours for students in kindergarten

Standard school year — a school year of at least 180 teaching days or a total of at least 990 teaching
hours per year.

Standard unit of credit — earned credit based on a minimum of 140-clock hours of instruction and
successful completion of the requirements of the course

Standards of Accreditation (SOA) — the Board of Education’s regulations establishing criteria for
approving public schools in Virginia as authorized in the Standards of Quality (SOQ)

Standards of Learning (SOL) — the minimum grade level and subject matter educational objectives,
described as the knowledge and skills “necessary for success in school and for preparation for life,” that
students are expected to meet in Virginia public schools and specified by the Standards of Quality (SOQ)

SOL curriculum frameworks — teacher resource guides for mathematics, science, English and
history/social sciences delineating essential knowledge, skills and processes required by the Standards of
Learning (SOL)

Standards of Quality (SOQ) — the minimum program that every public school division in Virginia must
meet; a major portion of state funding for direct air to public education is based on the SOQ; the
standards are established in the Constitution of Virginia, defined in the Code of Virginia and prescribed by
the Board of Education, subject to revision only by the General Assembly

Student — a child age 5 on or before September 30 up to age 18; a child with disabilities age 2-21; a
child of limited English proficiency who entered a Virginia school after age 12 but not age 22

Student periods — means the number of students a teacher instructs per class period multiplied by the
number of class periods taught

Substitute tests — tests approved by the Board of Education as substitutes for SOL end-of-course tests
for awarding verified credit for high school; examples include Advanced Placement (AP), International
Baccalaureate (IB), SAT II, as well as a number of certifications and licensing examinations in career and
technical fields

Title I — federal funding program authorized by Title I of ESEA/NCLB to support instructional needs of
students from low-income families to ensure that all children have a fair and equal opportunity to obtain a
high-quality education and reach (at a minimum) proficiency on state academic achievement standards
and assessments

Title 1 school — a school with a high rate of disadvantaged students making it eligible for participation in
federal Title I programs

Title 1 school-wide assistance — Title 1 schools with 40 percent or greater high-poverty, student
population may use federal funding to meet the needs of all students at the school

Title 1 targeted assistance — federal funding is used to meet the needs of the educationally
disadvantaged students only and the poverty percentages must be at least 35% or above the district wide
average

Transition plan — plan provided by the licensed physician or licensed clinical psychologist to explain the
need for extended homebound instruction which includes the name of the student, justification for the
extension of homebound instruction, additional time homebound instruction is anticipated and specific
steps planned to return the student to classroom instruction

Verified unit of credit — earned credit based on a standard unit of credit, plus a passing score on the
end-of-course SOL test or substitute test approved by the Board of Education

Virginia assessment program — means a system used to evaluate student achievement that includes
SOL tests and additional tests which may be approved from time to time by the Board of Education.
Virginia preschool initiative — program providing state funds to schools and community organizations
for quality preschool programs for at-risk four-year olds not served by federal programs such as Head
Start or Title 1

Virginia’s Foundation Blocks for Early Learning — a measurable range of skills and knowledge
essential for four-year-olds to be successful in kindergarten.

Vocational — a school or center organized for a program that offers a sequence of courses that are
directly related to the preparation of individuals for paid or unpaid employment in current or emerging
occupations requiring other than a baccalaureate or advanced diploma