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Educational Terms Glossary

Unfamiliar with the terms your child's teacher throws around? You're not alone. There's lots of school jargon that can confuse even the most informed parent or guardian. Here's our glossary of some of the most common.

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Advanced Placement (AP) Exams

A College Board-sponsored exam designed to evaluate high school students in corresponding Advanced Placement courses. If a student receives a score of 3 or higher (the test is on a 1 to 5 scale), he or she may earn college credit.

Assertive Discipline/Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)

A program in which a plan of positive behavioral intervention is laid out for a child whose actions disrupt the learning of himself or other children.

Assistive Technology

Equipment that helps kids with special needs learn, grow and conquer their limitations in the classroom, and ranging from versatile button switches to whiteboards to spell checkers.

Block Scheduling

A type of class schedule. For example, with block scheduling, instead of having six classes in a day, students might have three or four longer class periods.

Blue Ribbon School

Established in 1982, the Michigan Blue Ribbon Exemplary School Program recognized schools that demonstrate a strong commitment to educational excellence and significant academic improvement over five years. In 2009, the program was terminated due to state funding issues. However, schools that were awarded the Blue Ribbon still bear that distinction.

Career and Technical Centers

These are schools that focus on teaching students about vocational trades, such as automotive repair, carpentry or culinary arts, for example.

Certificate of Completion (CoC)

A certificate given to students who finish high school and who had Individual Education Plans (IEPs) or were on an alternative curriculum route. A CoC is not a high school diploma, which is awarded to those who have met the Michigan Merit Curriculum requirements for graduation.

Charter Schools

Charter schools are tax-supported schools established by a charter between a granting body (such as a school board) and an outside group (such as teachers and parents), which operates the school without most local and state educational regulations so as to achieve set goals.

Cooperative Education Program

A program that results from a written, voluntary agreement between two or more local districts to provide educational programs for pupils.

Dual Enrollment

Dual enrollment is when a high school student enrolls in college classes to earn college credit while still attending high school.

English as a Second Language (ESL)

Students whose primary language is not English. These students often take courses together to improve their skills.

English-Language Learner (ELL)

Another term for a student whose primary language is not English but is learning the language. See definition for English as a Second Language.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

A federal law regarding the privacy of education records. The rights to the school records are transferred to the student when they turn 18. Parents and students who have the rights to the records can inspect records and request corrections. The school can release the records to certain individuals or groups under certain circumstances, such as a student transferring schools or a subpoena, but otherwise they need written permission to do so. This applies to traditional public schools and charter schools.

Grade Level Content Expectations (GLCEs)

Mandates the existence of a set of skills that each student should obtain throughout the course of one grade.

Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP)

An early childhood education program funded by the state of Michigan. The program is designed to serve families living in low-income households at 101-250 percent poverty level, and children over 250 percent must have other risk factors to attend. Children must be 4 years old by Nov. 1 of the current school year to be in the program.

Great Start to Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)

A rating system designed by Michigan's early childhood experts and organizations for evaluating the quality of the state's early childhood education centers and programs. The ratings range from one to five stars, and rate centers based on factors such as environment, curriculum and staff qualifications. These ratings go a step further than Michigan's licensing standards by giving programs more points based on these factors being higher quality.

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