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Translating Educational Jargon

    Note: For a more serious and detailed look at the phrases used by the education industry, go to this section of this website: Learning the Lingo.


    Translating Educational Jargon
    by Phillip Paeltz
    Headmaster, Governor French Academy


    AYP: Adequate yearly progress
    The annual academic performance targets in reading and math that the state, school districts and schools must reach to be considered on track, under the requirements of No Child Left Behind, a federal law.
    Translation: The name for the rate of improvement that the Federal government believes that schools can achieve that the State believes they cannot.

    DOL: Daily oral language
    Exercises that help students recognize common mistakes in writing.
    Translation: Exercises that highlight the difference between the language the students speak and the language of tests.

    ESL: English as a Second Language
    Classes or support programs for students whose native language is not English.
    Translation: The astounding recognition that, in the land of immigrants, not everyone speaks English.

    IEP
    A written plan created for a student with learning disabilities by his or her teacher, parents, and the school administrator. The plan is tailored to the student's needs and abilities and outlines goals for the students.
    Translation: The greatest collection known to mankind of words that have no relation to action.

    Media center
    A library that also uses computer technology, usually for research.
    Translation: The best place on a contemporary school campus to hide.

    ISAT: Illinois Standards Achievement Test
    The name of the annual standardized test taken by Illinois students.
    Translation: The test that changes each year to protect the guilty in Illinois.

    LEP: Limited English Proficient
    Children who are learning English.
    Translation: The label used to denote the teachers who teach LEP students in urban areas.

    NAEP: National Assessment of Educational Progress
    A standardized test administered to a sampling of students nationwide.
    Translation: A documented, standardized test that everyone calls tragically flawed.

    PSAE: Prairie State Achievement Examination
    The name of the standardized test given to Illinois 11th-graders.
    Translation: Politically Sensitive Acronym for an Exam that is really the ACT.

    Resource specialists
    Teachers with special credentials who work with special-education students by assisting them in regular classes or pulling them out of class for extra help.
    Translation: Certified personnel who say they "only do it for the students" and then spend all their time with paper.

    Rubric
    A guideline for evaluating performance on tests or other measures of learning.
    Translation: The current buzz word in schools for "checklist".

    Team teaching
    A teaching method in which two or more teachers teach the same subjects or theme. The teachers may alternate teaching the entire group or divide the group into sections or classes that rotate.
    Translation: A scheduling paradigm that allows at least one teacher to always be on break.


    Sources for "official" definitions:

    • Illinois State Board of Education
    • School Wise Press

    "Translations" by Phillip Paeltz, Governor French Academy






    For a more serious and detailed look at the phrases used by the education industry, go to this section of this website: Learning the Lingo.

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