Welcome to ICW's Educationary. As you take on education reform in your local communities, you may need some help along the way. Here you will find key acronyms and terms you need to know, as well as a comprehensive list of national education organizations that will aid you as an education reformer. At the top of each page, you will see a clickable index that will take you to the appropriate page. You may also download this glossary in PDF format.

List of national education organizations 

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List of Acronyms

AACTE American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
AAC&U Association of American Colleges & Universities
AASA American Association of School Administrators
AAU Association of American Universities  
ACA American Counseling Association
ACE American Council on Education
ACT American College Testing
ACTA American Council of Trustees and Alumni
ADA Americans with Disabilities Act  
ADD Attention Deficit Disorder  
ADHD Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder  
AECT Association for Educational Communications and Technology
AERA American Educational Research Association
AFT American Federation of Teachers
AGB Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges
AMO Annual Measurable Objective  
AP Advanced Placement  
APLU Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
APSCU Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities
ARRA American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (also known as “the stimulus”)  
ASCA American School Counselor Association
ASCD Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
ASL American Sign Language  
ASP After School Program  
AYP Adequate Yearly Progress  


Ability Grouping: A strategy for organizing instruction by placing students of similar academic abilities together for instruction. Sometimes referred to as tracking.

Acceleration: In education, a strategy that enables a student to complete a course in less than the traditional time. Often referred to in conjunction with Carnegie Units.

Accommodations: Changes in the way tests are designed or administered to respond to the special needs of students with disabilities and English language learners (ELL).

Accountability: Holding key individuals and groups responsible for student achievement through the systematic collection, analysis, use, and reporting of valid and reliable information. Accountability systems assume that educators, policymakers, and others know how to act on the information to improve education.

Accreditation: Official recognition that an individual or institution meets required standards. In education, the goal of accreditation is to ensure that education providers and personnel meet acceptable levels of quality. Accreditation of teachers is usually referred to as licensing or certification and is carried out by a state licensing board. Schools are typically accredited in two ways: by voluntary regional accrediting associations (such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) and by state governments, which are legally responsible for public education.

Achievement Gap: Persistent differences in achievement among different types of students as indicated by scores on standardized tests, teacher grades, and other data. The gaps most frequently referred to in education are those separating economically disadvantaged students and students of color from less disadvantaged students.

Achievement Test: A standardized test that measures a student’s knowledge in specific academic areas such as reading, language, mathematics, social studies, and/or science.

Adequacy: An approach to school funding based on the provision of sufficient funds for schools to teach all students to state and district proficiency standards.

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP): A set of annual academic performance benchmarks that states, school districts, schools, and subpopulations of students must achieve. Adequate yearly progress is the minimum level of improvement that states, school districts, and schools must achieve each year, according to federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation.

Adequate Yearly Progress Workbook: A document that is officially known as the Consolidated State Application Accountability Workbook. Each state must annually submit to the United States Department of Education its workbook describing how AYP determinations will be calculated and how the state will comply with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

Advanced Placement (AP): An academic program administered by The College Board through which college-level courses are offered by trained high school teachers in the regular high school setting. Students enrolling in AP courses may take a nationally standardized exam and, based on their performance, earn college credit. The program currently includes 37 courses and exams across 22 subject areas.

After School Programs: Programs established by schools and community organizations to provide safe places and constructive activities for students whose parents cannot be at home after school.

Alignment: The degree to which assessments, curriculum, instruction, textbooks and other instructional materials, teacher preparation and professional development, and systems of accountability all reflect and reinforce the educational program’s objectives and standards.

Alternative Certification: Refers to every avenue to becoming licensed to teach, from emergency certification to very sophisticated and well-designed programs that address the professional preparation needs of the growing population of individuals who already have at least a bachelor’s degree and considerable life experience and want to become teachers.

Alternative Education: Educational programs historically serving diverse populations of students, including those whose academic, social, political, or religious values diverge from the mainstream, as well as those who were unsuccessful within the regular public school system. Alternative educational settings typically serve two groups of students: those who would be considered “at risk” or who simply have not flourished in a traditional setting; and those with disciplinary problems or disruptive behavior.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA): Also referred to as “the stimulus,” this 2009 law provides one-time funding for a variety of issues, including education. ARRA funding for education has been distributed via the U.S. Department of Education.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): A wide ranging federal law passed in 1990 that prohibits the discrimination against an individual based on disability.

Annual Measurable Objective (AMO): A measurement used to determine compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act. States must develop annual measurable objectives (AMOs) that will determine if a school, district, or the state as a whole is making adequate yearly progress toward the goal of having all students proficient in English language arts and mathematics by 2013-14.

Articulation Agreements
: A compact between two institutions that allows students to transfer credits earned freely and without penalty. Articulation agreements are typically formed either between community colleges and four-year institutions or between high schools and either 2- or 4-year colleges. Some states have pursued statewide articulation agreements, allowing any student that completes an approved education program to transfer that credit to any public institution of higher education within the same state. Articulation agreements are often found within career and technical education programs of study.

Assessment: An exercise that seeks to measure an individual’s skills or knowledge in a subject area. Different assessment instruments include achievement tests, minimum competency tests, developmental screening tests, aptitude tests, observation instruments, performance tasks, and authentic assessments.

Asynchronous Learning: A student-centered teaching method that uses online learning resources to facilitate information sharing outside the constraints of time and place among a network of people.

At-Risk Student: A term applied to students who have not been adequately served by social service or educational systems and who are at risk of educational failure due to lack of services, negative life events, or physical or mental challenges, among others.

Authentic Assessment: A type of evaluation that requires an individual to perform a task rather than select an answer from a ready-made list. Also referred to as performance assessment.

Download a PDF version of the Educationary.