A Common Language: 30 Public Education Terms Defined

graphic-notes-6-fiA Common Language: 30 Public Education Terms Defined 

by TeachThought Staff

Communication depends on a common language.

In any field, knowing what a colleague means when they use a term or phrase is the difference between talking about ideas and exchanging ideas. So the following list of public education terms is useful not so much for the definitions, but for the credibility (or at least authority) of the definitions, as they are sourced from the Department of Education itself, in this case in regards to clarify Race to the Top language and meaning.

For us, they’re informative for other reasons:

  • To see language and patterns is to see priority and thought. Put another way, you can’t discuss and likely don’t value what you haven’t identified and named.
  • To see how many factors impact a child’s education
  • To clarify your own misconceptions
  • To prioritize your own work
  • To share with colleagues

We’ve included most of the definitions they provided, but left a few out that were only narrowly useful. You can find the full list here.

A Common Language: 30 Public Education Terms Defined 

1. Achievement gap

The difference in the performance between each ESEA subgroup (as defined in this document) within a participating LEA or school and the statewide average performance of the LEA’s or tate’s highest achieving subgroups in reading/language arts and mathematics as measured by the assessments required under the ESEA.

2. College and career-ready graduation requirements

Minimum high school graduation expectations (e.g., completion of a minimum course of study, content mastery, proficiency on college- and career-ready assessments, etc.) that include rigorous, robust, and well-rounded curriculum aligned with college- and career-ready standards (as defined in this document) that cover a wide range of academic and technical knowledge and skills to ensure that students leave high school ready for college and careers.

3. College- and career-ready standards

Content standards for kindergarten through 12th grade that build towards college- and career-ready graduation requirements (as defined in this document) by the time of high school graduation. A State’s college- and career-ready standards must be either (1) standards that are common to a significant number of States; or (2) standards that are approved by a State network of institutions of higher education, which must certify that students who meet the standards will not need remedial course work at the post-secondary level.

4. College enrollment

The enrollment in college of students who graduate from high school consistent with 34 CFR 200.19(b)(1) and who enroll in an institution of higher education (as defined in section 101 of the Higher Education Act, P.L. 105-244, 20 U.S.C. 1001) within 16 months of graduation.

Core educational assurance areas:

  • Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy;
  • Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction;
  • Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and
  • Turning around our lowest-achieving schools.

5. Digital learning content

Learning materials and resources that can be displayed on a digital device and shared electronically with other users. Digital learning content includes both open and or commercial content. In order to comply with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, any digital learning content used by grantees must be accessible to individuals with disabilities, including individuals who use screen readers. For additional information regarding their application to technology, please refer to www.ed.gov/ocr/letters/colleague-201105-ese.pdf and www.ed.gov/ocr/docs/dcl-ebook-faq-201105.pdf.

6. Educators 

All education professionals and paraprofessionals working in participating schools (as defined in this document), including principals or other heads of a school, teachers, other professional instructional staff (e.g. staff involved in curriculum development, staff development, or operating library, media and computer centers), pupil support services staff (e.g. guidance counselors, nurses, speech pathologists, etc.), other administrators (e.g. assistant principals, discipline specialists.), and paraprofessionals (e.g. assistant teachers, instructional aides).

7. Graduation rate 

The four-year or extended-year adjusted cohort graduation rate as defined by 34 CFR 200.19(b)(1).

8. High-needs students 

Students at risk of educational failure or otherwise in need of special assistance and support, such as students who are living in poverty, who attend high-minority schools (as defined in the Race to the Top application), who are far below grade level, who have left school before receiving a regular high school diploma, who are at risk of not graduating with a diploma on time, who are homeless, who are in foster care, who have been incarcerated, who have disabilities, or who are English learners.

9. Interoperable data system 

System that uses common, established structure such that data can easily flow from one system to another and in which data are in a non-proprietary, open format.

10. Local educational agency 

As defined in ESEA, a public board of education or other public authority legally constituted within a State for either administrative control or direction of, or to perform a service function for, public elementary schools or secondary schools in a city, county, township, school district, or other political subdivision of a State, or for a combination of school districts or counties that is recognized in a State as an administrative agency for its public elementary schools or secondary schools.

11. Low-performing schools 

Schools that are in the bottom 10 percent of performance in the State, or who have significant achievement gaps, based on student academic performance in reading/language arts and mathematics on the assessments required under the ESEA or graduation rates (as defined in this document).

12. Metadata about content alignment 

Information about how digital learning content assesses, teaches, and depends on (requires) common content standards such as State academic standards.

13. On-track indicator 

A measure, available at a time sufficiently early to allow for intervention, of a single student characteristic (e.g., number of days absent, number of discipline referrals, number of credits earned), or a composite of multiple characteristics, that is both predictive of student success (e.g., students demonstrating the measure graduate at an 80 percent rate) and comprehensive of students who succeed (e.g., of all graduates, 90 percent demonstrated the indicator). Using multiple indicators that are collectively comprehensive but vary by student characteristics may be an appropriate alternative to a single indicator that applies to all students.

14. Participating schools 

Schools that are identified by the LEA or consortium and choose to work with the LEA to implement the LEA(s)’ Race to the Top plan, either in a specific grade span or subject area or in the entire school.

15. Participating students 

Students enrolled in a participating school (as defined in this document), grades, or subject areas and directly served by a Race to the Top District plan.

16. Persistently lowest-achieving schools 

As determined by the State, consistent with the requirements of the School Improvement Grants program authorized by section 1003(g) of the ESEA,

  1. Any Title I school in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring that (a) Is among the lowest-achieving five percent of Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring or the lowest-achieving five Title I schools in improvement, corrective action, or restructuring in the State, whichever number of schools is greater; or (b) Is a high school that has had a graduation rate as defined in 34 CFR 200.19(b) that is less than 60 percent over a number of years; and
  2. Any secondary school that is eligible for, but does not receive, Title I funds that (a) Is among the lowest-achieving five percent of secondary schools or the lowest-achieving five secondary schools in the State that are eligible for, but do not receive, Title I funds, whichever number of schools is greater; or (b) Is a high school that has had a graduation rate as defined in 34 CFR 200.19(b) that is less than 60 percent over a number of years.
  3. To identify the lowest-achieving schools, a State must take into account both (i) The academic achievement of the “all students” group in a school in terms of proficiency on the State’s assessments under section 1111(b)(3) of the ESEA in reading/language arts and mathematics combined; and (ii) The school’s lack of progress on those assessments over a number of years in the “all students” group.

17. Personalized learning plan 

A formal document, available in digital and other formats both in and out of school to students, parents, and teachers, that, at a minimum: establishes student learning goals based on academic and career objectives and personal interests; sequences content and skill development to achieve those learning goals and ensure that a student can graduate on-time college- and career-ready; and is updated based on information about student performance on a variety of activities and assessments that indicate progress towards goals.

18. Principal evaluation system 

A system that: (1) will be used for continual improvement of instruction; (2) meaningfully differentiates performance using at least three performance levels; (3) uses multiple valid measures in determining performance levels, including as a significant factor data on student growth(as defined in this document) for all students (including English learners and students with disabilities), and other measures of professional practice (which may be gathered through multiple formats and sources, such as observations based on rigorous leadership performance standards, teacher evaluation data, and student and parent surveys); (4) evaluates principals on a regular basis; (5) provides clear, timely, and useful feedback, including feedback that identifies needs for and guides professional development; and (6) will be used to inform personnel decisions.

19. School board evaluation 

An assessment of the LEA school board that both evaluates performance and encourages professional growth. This evaluation system rating should reflect both (1) the feedback of many stakeholders, including but not limited to educators and parents; and (2) student outcomes performance in order to provide a detailed and accurate picture of the board’s performance.

20. School leadership team 

A team that is composed of the principal or other head of a school, teachers and other educators, and, as applicable, other school employees, parents, students, and other community members, and leads the implementation of improvement and other initiatives at the school. In cases where statute or local policy, including collective bargaining agreements, call for such a body, that body shall serve the school leadership team for the purpose of this program.

21. Student attendance 

During the regular school year, the average percentage of days that students are present for school. Students should not be considered present for excused absences, unexcused absences, or any period of time that they are out of their regularly assigned classrooms due to discipline measures (i.e., in- or out-of-school suspension).

22. Student survey 

Measures students’ perspectives on teaching, learning, and related supports in their classrooms and schools. The surveys must be research-based, valid, and reliable. Over time these results should be predictive of rates of student growth.

23. Student Growth 

The change in student achievement for an individual student between two or more points in time, defined as—

  1. For grades and subjects in which assessments are required under ESEA section 1111(b)(3): (1) a student’s score on such assessments and (2) other measures of student learning, such as those described in the second bullet, provided they are rigorous and comparable across schools within an LEA.
  2. For grades and subjects in which assessments are not required under ESEA section 1111(b)(3): alternative measures of student learning and performance, such as student results on pre-tests, end-of-course tests, and objective performance-based assessments; performance against student learning objectives; student performance on English language proficiency assessments; and other measures of student achievement that are rigorous and comparable across schools within an LEA.

24. Student-level data 

Demographic, performance, and other information that pertains to a single student but cannot be attributed to a specific student.

25. Student performance data 

Information about the academic progress of a single student, such as formative and summative assessment data, coursework, instructor observations, information about student engagement and time on task, and similar information.

26. Subgroup 

Each category of students identified under ESEA section 1111(b)(2)(C)(v)(II).

27. Superintendent evaluation 

Rigorous, transparent, and fair annual evaluation for the LEA superintendent that provides an assessment of performance and encourages professional growth. This evaluation rating should reflect (1) the feedback of many stakeholders, including but not limited to educators, principals, and parents; and (2) student outcomes performance in order to provide a detailed and accurate picture of the superintendent’s performance.

28. Teacher attendance 

During the regular school year, the average percentage of days that teachers are present when they would otherwise be expected to be teaching students in an assigned class. Teachers should not be considered present for days taken for sick leave and/or personal leave. Personal leave includes voluntary absences for reasons other than sick leave.

29. Teacher evaluation system 

System that: (1) will be used for continual improvement of instruction; (2) meaningfully differentiates performance using at least three performance levels; (3) uses multiple valid measures in determining performance levels, including as a significant factor data on student growth (as defined in this document) for all students (including English learners and students with disabilities), and other measures of professional practice (which may be gathered through multiple formats and sources, such as observations based on rigorous teacher performance standards, teacher portfolios, and student and parent surveys); (4) evaluates teachers on a regular basis; (5) provide clear, timely, and useful feedback, including feedback that identifies needs and guides professional development; and (6) will be used to inform personnel decisions.

30. Turnaround strategy 

As defined by the School Improvement Grant (SIG) regulations, published in the Federal Register on October 28, 2010 (75 FR 66363), turnaround model, restart model, school closure, or transformational model.

image attribution  data source ed.gov