Edu-speak, the dictionary

Why is this used?

As list member Lonnie Turbee put it:

One of the reasons educrats use language like this is because, whether they're conscious of it or not, it gives them power over us mere "lay" parents. It has actually worked to intimidate me! I never became a public school teacher (I've always taught at the university level), so I never had a professional reason to "cognitively interact" with such drivel, although I've read plenty of the nonsense that shows up in professional journal articles - may have written some of it myself. It's saddening to think of all the parents who are valiantly struggling to do their best by their kids inside the school system who are faced with educrats who use this kind of power play to keep everyone, kids and parents, under control.

This list was compiled by Amy Leinen and is being posted with her permission:

The definitions of these terms are below.


abstract thinking








broadens perspective


cause and effect


common sense





concentrated amount

cooperative learning



consensus decisions







discussion forum

enabling objective







external evaluation





fine motor skills

formative evaluation





IEP (Individual Educational Plan)


intensive interest

intensive instruction

interactive feedback

internal evaluation


keyboard skills

key concepts


large motor skills






mental math



oral language



preliminary evaluation

problem solving



progressive learning

qualitative evaluation

quantitative evaluation









self motivation


service learning

silent reading


specific goals




summative evaluation



terminal objective

thematic units

theme based




whole language approach

word recognition



The extent to which students and educators take responsibility for learning.
Alternative assessment:
(innovative assessment) non-standardized measurement, evaluation, testing.
Anecdotal records:
short accounts of observed incidents. Alternative Assessment
Coined to separate a new generation of assessment tools stressing complex tasks and thinking processes from traditional tasks that often stressed lower-order thinking skills (e.g., short answer and multiple choice).
is the process used to make sense of the data collected in the testing of hypotheses. Analyzing may include organizing and categorizing data, graphing, or computer analysis to search for patterns in the data.
Through analyzing we try to interpret the data in light of existing knowledge and evidence.
Analytical trait scoring:
a scoring procedure in which performances are judged and scored separately for separate criteria, traits or dimensions. An example is providing separate scores for important decisions of problem solving in mathematics like understanding the problem, selecting and using mathematical procedures, and communicating clearly what was done.
Analytical scoring is especially useful when the purpose of assessment is to provide students with very focused information about the strengths of their work and ideas about which traits need improvement.
refers to the use of knowledge. Sometimes knowledge is used to expand explanation or theory; sometimes it is used to revise or build new hypotheses or theory. These are examples of application within science.
Sometimes, however, knowledge or processes are used in practical ways such as building a bridge, inventing a new instrument or technique, or improving on an existing product or design. These are examples of application in technology.
The process of collecting and analyzing information about performance and/or ability, and programs' effectiveness, in order to make sound decisions about students and programs and to understand their learning and to help them continue to grow.
Authentic Assessment:
Often used synonymously with Performance Assessment, but it can also mean an assessment which uses only real-world tasks as the basis for information about how well a person can perform certain tasks. It is ways of evaluating activities that are essential, genuine and meaningful in themselves. Often involves active, collaborative participation.
examples of performances that serve as a standard against which other papers or performances may be judged.
The process of putting objects or events together on the basis of a logical rationale. There are two kinds of categorizing, grouping and classifying. When scientists group objects, they put them together on the basis of a single property. Leaves might be grouped by type of venation, size, shape, and so on. Grouping is useful in revealing similarities and differences that otherwise might go unnoticed. Classifying involves putting items together on the basis of more than a single property at a time.
to cooperate with, join together and participate; to work with each other to accomplish set goal(s).
The process of giving, sending, or exchanging thoughts, feelings, opinions, and information orally or in writing.
Community of learners:
students and teachers working together as a team to develop a sense of purpose and ability for learning.
Computational skills:
These include the ability to make mental calculations rapidly and accurately; to perform calculations using paper and pencil and calculators; and to estimate approximate answers to check on the reasonableness of other computations.
Computer skills:
Increasingly science and technology rely on effective use of computers to collect data, store and retrieve information, organize data in spreadsheets and graphs, communicate with other computers and researchers, and prepare written reports of research. Teachers should also emphasize student development of computer skills of measuring using sensors, analyzing data, storing and retrieving data in various forms, and reporting and displaying results of their investigations.
Conceptual connections:
linking general and fundamental ideas needed to reason, problem solve, and/or create new knowledge.
theory of learning that focuses on allowing students to make meaning for themselves through active learning experiences.
the key characteristics or qualities of fine work. They are used in rubrics and scoring guides to describe or as the basis for making informed judgments about the quality of student responses, products and performances. Other terms that are sometimes used are dimensions or traits.
Criterion-referenced assessment:
an assessment designed to show what a student knows, understands, or can do in relation to specific performance objectives. Criterion-referenced assessments are used to identify student strengths and weaknesses. For example, "She typed 55 words per minute without errors." Criterion-referenced assessments focus on what each child has learned and assume that most students can achieve the objectives of the curriculum.
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving:
Concepts that have been rethought recently, since industry reports that many incoming workers are "not able to think or solve problems." Methods devised to correct this include considering all the elements of thinking (purpose, question, data, interpretation, concepts, assumptions, implications, point of view) and applying to them universal intellectual standards (clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, etc.). A good critical thinker can solve problems efficiently.
Decision-making skills
:These thinking skills enable students to arrive at appropriate solutions to problem situations, to judge assertions, to separate facts from opinions. These skills include identifying problems, seeking alternative solutions, applying knowledge, evaluating alternatives, and selecting a course of action.
indicates mastery of content as well as exploratory procedures. Often included in an exhibition or 'conference'.
branch of learning/knowledge; field of study.
all the ways of representing, thinking, talking, agreeing, and disagreeing that students and teachers engage in. Discourse may take a variety of forms: oral, written, pictorial, symbolic, and graphic.
Dyadic learning:
paired partner approach to promoting problem solving. Based on research results of quicker and more thorough understanding of material.
making judgments about the quality of student work using information about learning gathered through assessments. Good evaluations of learning are generally based on multiple sources of assessment information.
Exit outcomes:
what students should know and be able to do after completing a unit, a program, a grade, or a school.
person who plans and leads instructional activities, yet lets the students still be responsible for their own learning.
Feed forward:
the process of using criteria to communicate about student work in progress so that it can be improved as it is developing. When a teacher or student gives feed forward, they describe the strengths of current work and raise questions or make suggestions based on the criteria. Feed forward takes place in the midst of learning rather than at the end.
Fishbowl format:
A circular audience observing a central group of role-players or discussants.
A grade is a symbol (traditionally a number or letter) that summarizes the level of student work.
Habits of mind:
Values, attitudes, and skills that indicate a person's outlook on learning.
Holistic scoring:
a scoring procedure that results in a single summary score for the whole or a piece of student work. Holistic scores are based on an overall impression of a student product or performance. Criteria are used in holistic scoring but result in a single score or description that reflects the single level of performance.
Home assessments:
the assessments that take place in the midst of instruction and are an integral part of students' learning.
Imaginative skills:
Much of science and technology relies on the human capacity to create new ideas and solutions. Imagining, inventing, modeling, and creative thinking all play an important part in furthering our understanding in science and technology.
An inference is reasoning based on observation and experience. To infer is to arrive at a decision or opinion by reasoning from known facts. For example, I can see that someone is smiling. From this, I can infer from my experience that he is happy. It is particularly easy to think that an inference is a fact. It takes critical thinking to distinguish between the two. In the example of the smiling student, I do not know that the student is happy. He may be smiling for some other reason.
Information literacy:
the internalization of the research process to the point of successful, flexible application. The ability to refine data to information and use it to solve needs. Such application, combining judgment, decision-making, and common sense can be used functionally, aesthetically, academically, or scientifically.
Instructional Strategy:
Refers to the method of instruction selected to maximize student learning. The best instructional technique is determined by the objective(s) to be learned. There are many choices available to the educator. For example, class lecture (i.e., one-way communication), interactive lecture (i.e., tendency toward more two-way exchange of information), laboratory assignments, poster displays, multimedia presentations, printed materials (e.g., handouts, books, journals), small group sessions (e.g., discussion, problem-solving, problem-based learning), consultations (e.g., friends, family), and projects.
Interpersonal skills:
These are related to communication skills, but are more specific about individual behaviors. They include cooperating, sharing, listening, participating, and leading. They also include respecting others. Interpersonal skills enable students to work well with others to get a job done.
investigation and search for information and knowledge.
(also log, daily log, learning log, notebook, daybook, diary, progress sheet) From accurate records of daily accomplishments to reflective comments on the research process, including associative thinking and strategic decisions and plans.
Manipulative skills:
These include working with the hands. To work, operated or treat with or as with the hand or hands.
providing the observer with a walk-through sample of a process or a level of expectation. Especially helpful in making concepts or strategies or standards less abstract.
Multiple intelligences:
theory formulated by Howard Gardner to describe the broad range of capabilities used by humans in solving problems and creating things and ideas.
Norm-referenced assessment:
An assessment designed to show how a student's performance or test results rank when compared to the work of an appropriate peer group. Norm-referenced assessments assume that some students will do very well, some will do very poorly, and most will fall somewhere in the middle. Norm-referenced assessments focus on providing information about which child knows most and which knows least and how to rank the work of everyone in between.
We use our senses to gather information about the world around us. observing is the most fundamental scientific thinking process. Only through observing are we able to acquire information about the world around us. Given objects to play with the young student will look, touch, smell, taste, and listen to them. These sensory actions enable the learner to construct a view of the world and how it works. By observing, humans gather information as raw material for constructing fundamental knowledge.
a task or inquiry without a single answer. The student is not seeking what the teacher has decided is the 'right' answer, but a justifiable one within the assignments purview. Open-ended questions usually require higher order thinking, such as comparison, analysis, synthesis, evaluation.
arrange, coordinate, or manipulate parts and elements to achieve an objective or goal.
is the process of putting objects or events into a linear format. There are two kinds of ordering, serration and sequencing. Serration is organizing objects along a continuum­from rough to smooth, dim to light, sharp to dull, light to heavy, soft to loud, and so on.
Organizational skills:
Organizational skills enable people to plan and carry on activities effectively. To put order to a situation, objects, or people.
Outcome-based education (OBE):
school curriculum and instructional methods based on planning backwards - beginning by deriving "exit outcomes" that are assessed by "performance indicators". Premised on belief that all students can be successful learners. Most states have or are developing mandated "frameworks" based on this concept. Since the phrase has become the target of some groups, other nomenclature is sometimes used.
Paper and pencil assessment
: an assessment that generally uses questions or test items that require students to select a response from choices that are given. Paper and pencil assessments use formats such as multiple choice, true/false, and matching. Another paper and pencil format which requires students to create a response is the short answer or fill in item.
the work of a teacher; the art and science of teaching; instructional methods and strategies.
Performance assessment:
an assessment based on direct observation of students' performances or products and involves using performance criteria to make judgments about the performance or product created by students. It uses assessment activities that require students to construct a response, create a product, or apply their knowledge and capabilities. Most performance assessments do not have a single correct answer and students can use more than one approach to complete the task. Good performance assessments consist of a learning task that students respond to and a set of criteria that guide scoring and feed forward.
Performance-based education:
Defining what students should be able to do, planning ways for them to learn to do it, teaching them, and assessing their performance.
Performance indicators:
a component of Learning Results which defines the stages of achievement towards meeting the content standard for each of the four grade spans.
Performance Task:
A project, exhibit, portfolio, or other demonstration which shows an individual's ability to handle complex material and apply his or her knowledge to processes which have "real-world" applications.
Personal communication:
a form of assessment that uses oral questions and student responses as opportunities for assessment. It also includes interviews, student questions, and informal conversations.
A collection of work used to determine proficiency in one or more areas over a specified amount of time. Criteria for selection of work in a portfolio may be student- or teacher-generated. Portfolios can be used for information or assessment purposes. Formal folders/files/disks/videotapes containing specific samplings of student work. Assembled over time, it documents a student's efforts. Student selection of work requires self-assessment. Informal portfolios may include all student work over a time period. A working portfolio is a storage place for works-in-progress. The working portfolio is an excellent vehicle for process assessment.
the method a student employs in her work, usually involving a number of steps or operations. A systematic series of actions directed toward some end. Students should be able to articulate how they utilized the research process.
Process skills:
children use their senses to collect information about the world around them, observing its characteristics as objectively as possible. They test what they know against what they don't know by comparing features and behaviors for similarities and differences. They organize their understandings by ordering and categorizing them into broader, more general groupings. They study interactions among objects and describe the events, relating factors that reveal deeper understanding about causes and effects. Children hypothesize and predict what will happen based on their accumulated knowledge and upon the events they expect to take place, inferring something that they have not yet observed.
a measure of how a student is faring over time toward a well-defined goal: at this rate, will the student reach the goal within an expected time-frame?
a complex assignment requiring broad competencies, usually interdisciplinary, and significant student initiative. Can be comprised of performance, competition, collaborative activities. Contrasted with activities that require less planning, decision-making. Often used as both part of curriculum and as a basis for formal or informal performance assessment in lieu of a test.
(pump-primer) a scenario, a focus, a beginning sentence, a what-if, to stimulate or structure student effort. Prompts can serve as models as students begin developing their own topics. Some prompts are extensive, and include information on the purpose of and audience for the student's response. Can be over-used, resulting in chronic student expectation of teacher directives instead of employment of intrinsic motivation and inspiration.
taking a step backward to reconnoiter and confirm or reset research direction. A formative approach to solving an information problem. When used consistently, creates a spiral effect.
Reflective learning or reflective teaching:
looking back at or reflecting on teaching/learning practices for the purpose of analyzing, evaluating, and strengthening the quality of learning experiences; reflecting on teaching/learning practices with a spirit of inquiry, continually seeking to understand which plans, decisions, and actions are effective in the learning process and which are not.
an indication of the consistency of scores across evaluators over time or across different versions of a test. For example, a test is reliable when different teachers or other evaluators give student responses the same or similar scores no matter when the assessment takes place or who does the scoring.
a process for communicating about student learning; preparing and presenting detailed accounts or statements about student learning. Grades are often used in reporting, but more recent trends in assessment have expanded reporting to include portfolio conferences, student self-assessment, exhibitions of mastery, narrative descriptions of learning, and developmental continua that show where students current performance is in relation to common expectations.
Resource-based teaching:
The use of a variety of resources in a variety of formats as content for a topic. May supplement a textbook or stand alone. Much of the content may be gathered and shared by students.
a guide for scoring student performances and products. Rubrics are built from criteria that describe the characteristics of products or performances using a scale­descriptions or numbers that indicate levels of performance. A rubric may also be holistic - a rule grading a whole piece with one score, or analytic - scoring specific aspects of the piece separately.)
Self-assessment and self-reflection:
the process of having students look at their own work and apply agreed-upon criteria to judge the quality of their work. When students self-reflect, they think about their own learning and use both their thoughts and collections of their work as a mirror to look at their own strengths, weaknesses and overall achievement.
a self-directed student is an intrinsically motivated learner who independently seeks methods to arrive at goals.
Sensory skills:
These include seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting; all the ways that we take in information about the world around us.
a statement about what is valued that can be used for making a judgment or quality.
Student-centered curriculum:
a curriculum that takes into account what students already know to build and refine their understanding of new concepts.
is the process of connecting existing knowledge with new discoveries to develop a new or deeper understanding of phenomena. It is through synthesizing that we build our own personal knowledge as well as build the body of knowledge known as life education.
application of knowledge to develop tools, materials, techniques, and systems to help people meet and fulfill their needs.
is the process of designing and carrying out experiments to determine if our hypotheses, predictions, and inferences are true. The test usually consists of asking questions of nature, questions that are implied in the hypotheses. The theory and hypotheses we are dealing with also guide the kinds of observations we will make to determine if our ideas are correct.
A theory is a logical explanation or model based on observation, facts hypotheses, experimentation, and reasoning that attempts to explain a range of natural phenomena. Theories are constantly subject to testing, modification, and refutation as new evidence and ideas emerge. Theories also have predictive capabilities that guide further investigation.
refers to whether an assessment measures what it is supposed to measure. For example, a valid assessment of mathematics problem solving would focus on the student's ability to solve problems and not on the ability to read the problem.
Qualitative and Quantitative Research:
Used to describe two research methods. The differences between the two are philosophical. One formulation is that "quantitative methods have developed largely to confirm or verify theory, whereas qualitative methods have been developed to discover theory." What that means practically is that quantitative research may use more "objective" measurements to test hypotheses which give means for controlling and predicting behavior, while qualitative research may use more "subjective" observations of behavior.
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