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The glossary below is written in Alabama-based meaning whenever needed.
For a fabulous, broad-based glossary of education-related terms, see the Education Reform Glossary produced by the Great Schools Partnership.
The terms below are in alphabetical order. If any term is unclear, or if you would like a term added to this list, let us know!
The ALSDE’s distance learning program, in place since 2006, provides high quality online content, courses, and teachers to Alabama’s students in grades 9 – 12 by means of video-conference and Web-based instruction.
The system used at the state level to gather various data points, including achievement, learning gains, attendance, remediation rates, etc., in order to set goals for schools and school districts to improve public education.
The difference between one subgroup’s achievement test scores and another subgroup’s scores.
Replaced the Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test (ARMT) for grades 3-8. Given in the spring. Results are released in the fall.
All 10th graders take the PLAN. It is used for federal accountability.
The broad term used to describe the system or series of tests that the state board of education adopted as summative assessments for grades 3-8 and 10 through 12.
All 11th graders take the ACT with writing, paid for with state funds.
All 12th graders take WorkKeys beginning in the fall of 2014. It is an assessment of soft skills and basic workforce skills. Students can earn credentials to use for employment if they choose to go straight to work after graduating high school.
The total average daily enrollment during the first twenty days after Labor Day as reported by school officials. This number is used to calculate state funding for schools and districts. Note that the current year’s state funding is calculated for the previous year’s ADM. There are additional mechanisms to add funding for school districts who are growing quickly.
The state agency authorized to oversee distribution of state and federal funds and implement state and federal mandates and programs. The ALSDE is also charged with monitoring local school districts for compliance with state and federal mandates.
The Alabama Workforce Council was created by the legislature in 2014. Members were appointed by the Governor. Their purpose, according to their web site: The Alabama Workforce Council (AWC) serves as an advisory body in reviewing potential policies, recommending structure and alignment, developing innovative educational workforce programming, and discussing issues critical to the workforce development needs in Alabama. They issued a series of recommendations to the Governor in early 2015.
A school where students spend some amount of time in a brick-and-mortar school or other building with a teacher. Also, some portion of learning is online.
Public schools funded with public money that run parallel to traditional public schools. The governance is different depending upon how the law is written.
As used in reference to graduation rates, these are the students who graduate high school four years after entering the 9th grade (the 4-year cohort). A 5-year cohort graduation rate will be calculated and will measure the percentage of students who graduate 4- or 5-years after entering the 9th grade.
A broad term used to describe students who graduate high school ready to go to college (without remediation) or enter the workforce. In accountability measures, the terms are carefully defined and include measures of test results, courses passed, and industry credentials earned. In Alabama, a student is deemed to be college- or career-ready if the student has achieved one of the following:
1) a benchmark score on any sections of the ACT test,
2) a qualifying score on an AP or IB exam,
3) approved college or postsecondary credit while in high school,
4) a benchmark level on the ACT WorkKeys,
5) an approved industry credential, OR
6) acceptance into the military.
An initiative of the Council of Chief State School Officers to create common standards across state lines to allow for better alignment of K-20 and workforce expectations.
In relation to data collection and use, this has to do with whether a parent has granted consent (permission) for a child’s personal information to be used or shared with a third-party other than the government.
The written plan for the study of a particular subject, e.g., science, social studies, math. The state board of education approves a minimum, and local boards are allowed to embellish. A state-level committee is chosen to review the current course of study and recommend changes. The process generally takes one year. Public input is invited before the state board approves the COS. Textbooks are approved after the COS is approved.
The way the standards and the course of study are implemented.
This term has to do with who has been permitted access to a child’s personally identifiable information through the use of ed tech.
This has to do with how secure a child’s and school’s electronic records are. Schools with fewer technology resources sometimes struggle.
A list of disabilities for which special education services and supports are made available can be found here. If a student’s disability impacts their access to the general education curriculum, schools must provide supports and/or services to ensure the child has access to an adequate education. Disabilities can be visible and invisible.
This series of numbers is dictated by the Alabama legislature by grade level and is used to determine how many teacher units will be funded by state funding. The divisors for FY16 are:
The broad term used to describe efforts to change the way public education is structured, managed, and delivered. It generally includes efforts like tax credit scholarships, school choice, charter schools, removing tenure privileges for teachers, privatizing elements of schooling (busing, cafeteria services). It also includes a heightened focus on achievement test results and then linking those test results to teacher evaluations.
We don’t have these in Alabama. A designated amount of money is deposited into the account in the name of a school-aged child, and parents are free to use that money in any manner for a child’s education. Legislation to enact ESAs was introduced in the 2015 Regular Session but was not acted upon.
The broad term used to describe hardware, software, and the network through which teachers teach and students learn. Referred to as “ed tech”.
The state pool of money from which public education is funded.
The system used to replace No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Each state told the U.S. Department of Education how it would hold school officials and teachers accountable to ensure students achieved in school. Congress is in the process of reauthorizing NCLB which will replace the ESEA waivers.
Used throughout the year to assess children’s learning. Think Pop Quiz, chapter tests. Instruction is adjusted based on results of formative assessments.
The state of Alabama’s minimum funding program for public education.
A state legislative initiative to give a grade on a public school in order for parents to understand the type of education the child is likely to receive. Also done in order for the community to understand the struggles of their neighborhood school.
As used for accountability purposes, the graduation rate is the percentage of students who graduate after completing their fourth year after entering school in the 9th grade.
A test where results are used as a gateway to some consequence or opportunity. For example, the ACT college entrance exam determines to which college students can be admitted and what level of scholarship offer the student will receive.
The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act – The federal law delineating the set of responsibilities for school officials when a student has a disability listed in the law.
Individualized Education Program; A set of formally structured goals for students with special needs that delineates expected progress in school. Serves as a legally-enforceable contract between school officials and parents of student with IEP.
A school that has received approval from the state board of education to exempt themselves from some accountability requirement in exchange for being accountable for some other measurement. Budgetary and programmatic flexibility is allowed.
When the legislature dictates to the state board of education the parameters within which it must work.
Either elected or appointed. Sometimes paid, sometimes not. Should serve as liaison between the community and the superintendent. Role is to set policy, approve budget, and if superintendent is not elected, then to hire the superintendent.
The governmental term used to identify a school district or other authorized independent agency that delivers public education services to students.
A school that uses an application process and offers a specialized curriculum around an initiative such as the Alabama School of Fine Arts.
The 2002 federal law that introduced accountability measures for schools. It is part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The accountability measures were replaced by the ESEA waiver system in 2011. NCLB is currently being reauthorized in Congress. It was supposed to be reauthorized in 2007. But Congress took no action until this year.
The national movement trying to eliminate state-level standardized high-stakes testing.
A term to describe a database that includes specified achievement-based data points from a student’s experience in pre-Kindergarten through elementary, middle, and high school and on through college and into the workforce. These are interconnected systems typically combined from existing databases.
The local board of education/curriculum director’s timing for teaching the COS.
The state board of education’s strategic plan.
Typically refers to the percentage of students eligible for free- or reduced-price meals. The current determining factor for eligibility is 185% of the federal poverty level (reduced price eligibility) or 130% (free meal eligibility). The number of children in this program is used to calculate school or district eligibility for grants and other funding aimed at helping lower-income students.
Formally organized body of parents and teachers that is school-based. Bylaws typically allow parents and teachers a path for shared decision-making in school actions by administrators.
Formally organized body of parents and teachers that is school-based. Generally organized to support school fundraising and events at school. Typically do not allow for parents or teachers to have any authority to share in decision-making by administration.
Typically refers to the percentage of high school graduates who are required to take developmental or remedial coursework in college due to an alleged lack of skills in math or English.
An organization authorized under the Alabama Accountability Act of 2013 to collect contributions to aggregate and award scholarships to students to attend private schools. Students whose family income is below 185% of the federal poverty level are eligible for these scholarships. The contributions made to SGOs are eligible for dollar-for-dollar tax credits.
A database that tracks student achievement and sometimes behavior, depending on the state, for a student over a specified period of time while the student is in school.
The term used to describe the additional supports students with special needs will receive to ensure an adequate public education.
Eight-member elected body. Meets at the Alabama State Department of Education. Also governs the two-year college system.
The basis of what students will be expected to learn.
A defined racial, ethnic, or ability-based group of students typically used in accountability measures.
The highest-ranking governing official in a school district. Always accountable to the board, but in an elected position, cannot be fired.
Used at points through the year to assess the sum total of children’s learning. Think semester exams, annual standardized tests.
Under the 2013 Alabama Accountability Act, scholarships for tuition to private schools are made available to students whose family income is below a certain level (185% of federal poverty level). They are called “tax credit scholarships” due to the ability for those who donate the money used for the scholarships to take a dollar-for-dollar tax credit up to limits imposed by the law. The tax credit reduces the amount of taxes payable to the state of Alabama.
An accounting-based term that includes funding for a teacher, typically based on class size divisors set by the Alabama legislature.
The committees that meet to approve textbooks. First the state-level committee approves a list of acceptable textbooks and a list of rejected textbooks. Local boards of education then approve their own textbooks. Local boards can go off the list, but they must be approved at the state level.
When an authority mandates a new program or project be implemented or otherwise demands funds be expended without actually providing the funds to pay for the initiative. In 2014, Alabama voters approved a Constitutional amendment to prohibit unfunded mandates from the Alabama state legislature to boards of education.
A totally online school. Differs from blended learning in that students are not required to spend any time in a brick-and-mortar building.
A term used broadly to describe the need for students to graduate from high school or college (2- or 4-year) ready to work without the need for extraordinary training (except in highly specialized jobs).
July 24, 3:12 p.m. – Changed definition of ACCESS to reflect current method of instruction.
August 29 to September 25, 2016
July 25 to August 28, 2016
June 24 to July 24, 2016
May 23 to June 23, 2016
May 2 to May 22, 2016
April 18 to May 1, 2016
March 16 to April 17, 2016
February 23 to March 15, 2016
February 1 to February 22, 2016
January 11 to January 31, 2016
December 21, 2015, thru January 10, 2016
November 30 thru December 20
November 11 thru November 30
October 21 thru November 10
October 6 thru October 20
September 14 thru October 5
August 24 thru September 13
August 3 thru August 23
July 16 thru August 2
June 18 thru July 13
May 19 thru June 17, 2015
May 18, 2015
April 27, 2015
March 30, 2015
March 11, 2015
February 2, 2015
January 5, 2015
December 16, 2014
All past editions available on Storify at https://storify.com/ALSchoolConnect