Education Jargon

Every sector speaks its own language. Often technical, this language or jargon, can be confusing, bare of meaning or incomprehensible to people who are not familiar with the topic under discussion. To help alleviate the confusion, the Alberta School Boards Association has created a helpful glossary of terms, abbreviations, and acronyms that might be unfamiliar to parents. We have also included some terms specific to Rocky View Schools, its 2011-2014 Three Year Plan, and the education system as a whole.

21st Century Competencies - the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to be competitive in the 21st Century workforce.

Accountability - a process designed to determine whether those responsible for certain tasks or activities have discharged them in the manner intended and have achieved the desired results.

Accountability Pillar - a framework for assessing how the province’s education system is performing using a broad range of measures. The information is used by schools, school jurisdictions and the province to determine if learning goals are being met, to develop and implement strategies to improve results, and to report to parents and communities.

Accountability Pillar Online Reporting Initiative (APORI) - mandate from Alberta Education that all school boards publish the results achieved through the government's Accountability Pillars. APORI results are published annually, and report on outcomes and performance measures; this data is then used for informed decision-making for the purpose of improving programs and student results in subsequent years.

Accumulated Operating Surplus (AOS) - the sum of the unrestricted net assets and operating reserves. Represents funds available to cover future deficits. The AOS, together with capital surplus and capital reserves, would form what is called “retained earnings” in the private sector.

Activities: Co-Curricular - learning activities which complement learning objectives and are conducted outside the classroom.

Activities: Extracurricular - activities usually outside of the classroom and outside of normal school hours designed to provide opportunities for students to pursue athletic, vocational or avocational interests.

Ad Hoc (typically describes a committee) - established for a specific purpose, issue, or concern and usually operational for a short period of time.

Administrative Allowance - a sum of money, determined in collective bargaining, usually paid to administrators and supervisors in addition to their regular salary.

Administrative Procedure - methods and processes before an administrative board (i.e. school board) as distinguished from judicial procedure which applies to court. Administrative procedure can be found in school board policy.

ADS - Automated dispatch system for substitute teachers.

Alberta Assessment Consortium (AAC) - a recognized education partner in the province of Alberta. An independent voice, the AAC provides informed responses to assessment topics that impact student learning. A membership entails access to a variety of assessment-related resources and professional learning opportunities.

Alberta Initiative for School Improvement (AISI) - a bold approach to improving student learning by encouraging teachers, parents, and the community to work collaboratively to introduce innovative projects that address local needs. AISI supports projects that focus on student engagement, inquiry, critical thinking, 21st Century learning, assessment, differentiated instruction, literacy, personalized learning, and much more. Initiated in 1999 by the Alberta Government and its partners, AISI provides targeted funding to school authorities to improve student learning and enhance student engagement and performance.

Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) - an association of all school boards in the province. Organized into five Zones representing different geographic regions of the province, each school board is a member of one of the Zones. The ASBA facilitates information sharing, lobbying, advocacy, and professional development between school boards across the Province.

Alberta School Councils Association (ASCA) – a non-profit society that promotes and supports effective school council practices, and demonstrates how parental engagement can enhance school improvement strategies. The ASCA is governed by an elected, volunteer board of directors comprised of parents on school councils from across Alberta.

Alberta School Foundation Fund (ASFF) - a regulated fund into which all money raised through education property taxes is pooled and then distributed to school boards. Separate school boards may opt out of the ASFF and continue to directly tax their local residential and corporate ratepayers.

Alberta Teachers Association (ATA) - the professional organization that oversees both the professional conduct and the competence of teachers employed by school boards in Alberta. All teachers employed by a school board in Alberta are required to become active members of the Association.

Alternative Program - an education program that emphasizes a particular language, culture, religion or subject matter or uses a particular teaching philosophy (i.e. an outreach program). Special education programs, programs for children who are guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to receive instruction in French, or programs of religious education offered by a separate school board are not alternative programs.

Annual Education Results Report (AERR) - highlights the accomplishments and progress made toward meeting goals and objectives established by the jurisdiction in its Three Year Plan. Results of mandatory and optional measures gathered through the year from activities such as ongoing reviews, evaluations, surveys, planning sessions and workshops also will be communicated. The AERR can be found on  RVS' corporate website.

Arbitration - the determination of a dispute by an arbitrator; a procedure to determine an interest dispute.

Attendance Board - body established by the minister of education to review matters respecting the failure of a student to attend school.

Audited Financial Statement - formal financial statements audited by an independent firm of accountants.

Authentic Assessment - a form of assessment in which students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills.

Authentic Learning - lessons and activities framed around "real life" contexts.

Balanced Assessment (BA) - a process that allows for a variety of different assessment techniques to be utilized, including student self-reflection, peer assessment, and goal setting. BA involves the day to day gathering of evidence by both teachers and students about where they are in relation to the desired outcomes of the learning. This information is used to guide instruction and next steps.

Bargaining Agent - the organization authorized by law that acts on behalf of employees in collective bargaining or as a party to a collective agreement with an employer or employer’s organization, whether or not the bargaining agent is a certified bargaining agent.

Bargaining Unit - a defined group of employees with similar, general job characteristics on whose behalf the bargaining agent negotiates with their employer (i.e. ATA Local, CUPE Local).

Basic Literacy - language proficiency and numeracy at levels necessary to function on the job and in society.

Bill - draft legislation which is introduced into the legislature or Parliament. Once it’s approved a bill becomes an act.

Blended Program - an educational program consisting of two distinct parts: a school provided program where a) school board is responsible for the delivery and evaluation of achievement and b) a Home Education Program that meets the requirements of the Home Education Regulations, pursuant to the School Act.

Budget Report Form - a form supplied by the provincial government wherein school boards identify their estimated revenues and expenditures for the school year.

Bylaws - the set of rules adopted by an organization to regulate its proceedings.

Capital Expenditure - spending money on something relatively permanent like a building or a school bus. The item must be worth more than $5,000.

Career and Technology Studies (CTS) - courses that help students move through school towards further education and work. Course options can include everything from digital design to mechanics or cosmetology.

College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS) - the professional voice of system education leaders. CASS provides leadership, expertise and advocacy to improve, promote and champion public education.

Certificated - employees, who as a condition of employment, must possess a valid teacher’s certificate.

Charter - a charter is an agreement to establish and administer a charter school. The charter describes the unique educational service the charter school will provide, how it will operate and the student outcomes it intends to achieve.

Class Size - the number of students scheduled to receive instruction at one time by one teacher. Note: Class size is usually larger than the pupil-teacher ratio because all certificated staff (principals, teacher librarians, etc.) are included in calculating the ratio.

Cohort - the total group of students registered in a particular grade, including students who may be enrolled in a modified program. These students are all counted in the provincial achievement test results. Syn. full cohort

Collective Agreement - a written agreement between an employer and a bargaining agent of employees, acting on behalf of a unit of employees (i.e. the school jurisdiction and the ATA) containing provisions respecting the terms and conditions of employment and related matters. This agreement is negotiated at bargaining tables and is enforceable through arbitration.

Collective Bargaining - negotiating with a view to concluding or renewing a collective agreement.  Computer Adaptive Assessment (CAA) A school-based computer assessment tool that tailors a test’s difficulty to each student.

Community Learning Hubs - places were people can come see, learn and participate in intellectually rich, future-oriented activities.

Communities of Practice - groups of people with a common area of interest who come together to share, create, and learn from one another.

Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) - supplementing instruction by having students engage in learning activities with a computer.

Contracts: Continuing - a contract of employment between a board and a teacher that remains in force from year to year.

Interim - a contract of employment between a board and a teacher, for not more than 360 teaching days, but may be less than a complete school year.

Probationary - a contract of employment between a board and teacher for a complete school year, during which the teacher is on probation.

Temporary - a contract of employment between a board and a teacher for the purpose of replacing a teacher who is absent from his/her duties for a period of 20 or more consecutive teaching days.

Council of Ministers of Education of Canada (CMEC) - the Council of Ministers of Education of Canada (CMEC) is an intergovernmental body founded in 1967 by ministers of education to serve as:
• a forum to discuss policy issues
• a mechanism through which to undertake activities, projects, and initiatives in areas of mutual interest
• a means by which to consult and cooperate with national education organizations and the federal      government
• an instrument to represent the education interests of the provinces and territories internationally All provinces and territories are members. 

Council On Alberta Teaching Standards(COATS) - this council advises the minister of education on programs for the preparation of teachers and the requirements for Alberta teaching certificates; conditions under which suspension or cancellation of certificates are justified and policy, practice and outcomes in the area of teacher evaluation.

Count Date - refers to the date on which student enrolment is counted for the purpose of calculating funding. If the count date is Sept. 30, only those enrolled on that date can be included in the count. If the count date of Sept. 30 falls on a weekend, the last school day in September is used as the count date. Kindergarten to Grade 9 students are counted.

Credit Enrolment Units (CEUs) - a conditional grant allocated to school boards for senior high school courses that are based on the Alberta Program of Study and delivered through appropriate access to instruction. Funding is ongoing and is distributed at several points during the school year.

Cumulative Record Card - this form contains information about a student such as vital statistics, test results and student attendance.

Daily Physical Activity (DPA) - the goal of Daily Physical Activity (DPA) is to increase students’ physical activity levels. DPA is based on the belief that healthy students are better able to learn and that school communities provide supportive environments for students to develop positive habits needed for a healthy, active lifestyle.

Debenture - similar to a bond (a long-term debt) but usually secured by assets.

Early Childhood Services (ECS) - the umbrella term for programs provided to children between the ages of two and a half and six years of age. This includes programs for young children with severe or mild/moderate special needs, English as a Second Language or Francisation programs and kindergarten.

Ecological Intelligence - the act of comprehending systems in their complexity, as well as the interplay between natural and man-made worlds.

Edulink - software designed to assist schools, district offices, and Alberta Education to electronically exchange student Student Information (SIS) Registration, Course Mark and Diploma Exam Registration, as well as other types of data.

English as a Second Language (ESL) - programs designed for students whose mother tongue is not English.

First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Education (FNMI) – strategies developed by  the Ministry of Education to improve achievement among FNMI students, and to close the gap between FNMI and non-FNMI students in the areas of literacy and numeracy, retention of students in school, graduation rates, and advancement to post-secondary studies. As a jurisdiction, we work together with FNMI communities, Elders, parents, teachers and other education stakeholders throughout the province to learn from each other to best meet the needs of FNMI learners.

Francisation - program that helps students attending Francophone schools who do not have sufficient French language skills.

Francophone - education program offered for students with rights under Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to receive school instruction in French.

Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP) - this legislation sets out rules regarding the collection, use and disclosure of personal information.

Funding Framework - formula for distributing funds to school boards.

General Equivalency Diploma (GED) - method of obtaining a high school equivalency diploma that requires a registered individual complete and pass five subject tests.

Generative Governance - a model that promotes greater community involvement in the development of youth. Generative governance also encourages board members to rise above their fiduciary role of exercising legal responsibilities of oversight and stewardship, and to delve deeper into inquiry, exploring root causes, values, optional courses, and new ideas.

Grade Level of Achievement (GLA) - teachers providing Alberta Education with their judgment of their student’s achievement in meeting the program of studies outcomes in Grades 1 to 9 language arts and mathematics. 54

“Grandfather” - a Clause To continue an existing service or benefit for identified individuals or groups of people when that service or benefit is being phased out or eliminated.

Grievance - a disagreement between the parties to a collective agreement about the meaning or application of the collective agreement or any violation of the collective agreement.

Impasse - in negotiations, the point at which bargaining cannot proceed because no agreement can be reached on the remaining issues in dispute.

In Camera Meeting -  private meeting which is not open to the public. Syn. Committee of the whole, meeting in committee; executive session; conference committee

Increment - salary increases for employees, usually for each additional year of experience, to a maximum amount.

Individualized Instruction - a teaching method which sees the teacher modify his/her instruction according to the abilities or interests of the individual student.

Individualized Program Plan (IPP) - a plan of action designed to address a student’s special needs, based on diagnostic information which provides the basis for intervention strategies. All students with exceptional needs, from severely disabled to the gifted and talented, require an IPP. Syn. Individualized Education Plan (IEP)

In Loco Parentis - a Latin phrase meaning “in place of the parent.” It is a common law element that establishes the role of school board personnel as being that of reasonable and prudent parents in relationship to students.

Inquiry-Based Learning - seeking for truth, information, or knowledge through posing and solving problems.

Instructional Materials Centre (IMC) - a centrally-located facility for the storage, distribution, and production of audio/visual aids and instructional materials. Syn. Media centre, LRSC

Integration - placing children irrespective of ability, intelligence, or handicap into a regular classroom. Syn. Mainstreaming.

ISTE Net Standards - the roadmap to learning, teaching, and growing professionally in an increasingly digital world.

Learners - all members of a community, including, students, parents, teachers, support staff, administrators, trustees, and community members.

Learning Commons - a physical space that allows people to connect, collaborate and access workstations equipped with software supporting a variety of networks and uses.

Learning Disability - an inability to learn due to a physical, mental, or emotional affliction, which may be corrected. Categorized as mild, moderate or severe.

Leave of Absence - a period of time granted to an employee to be absent from work, with or without pay.

Mainstreaming - placing children irrespective of ability, intelligence, or handicap into a regular classroom. Syn. Integration

Mean - the average of a group of scores.

Median - the middle score in a list arranged from highest to lowest. Example: two, six, seven, 15, 21, 30, 39. The median is 15.

Mediation - the process by which a third party attempts to facilitate a resolution to a dispute between two parties.

Memorandum of Agreement - the document signed by the parties involved in negotiating a collective agreement. The memorandum is subject to ratification by the school board and the union membership.

Middle School - a form of school organization providing instructional services to children aged 10 to 14 (Grades 5 to 8).

Mild/Moderate - one of the terms given to the group of specific categories that allow school jurisdictions to identify those children and students who require special education. This includes students with learning disabilities, emotional/behavioural disabilities, mild or moderate cognitive disabilities, hearing disabilities, visual disabilities, communication disabilities or delays, gifted and talented, physical and medical disabilities or multiple disabilities.

Mill - unit of measurement used for calculating taxes on property. One mill is 1/1000 of the assessed property value. i.e. If the assessed property value is $1,000, one mill yields $1.

Mutil-Modal Professional Learning - a journey involving the use of multiples modes of professional learning, i.e., online, symposiums, etc.

Multiple Learning Pathways - selecting from several teaching strategies so that material is presented to facilitate effective learning for each learner.

Non-Resident Student - a student whose parents reside in a school jurisdiction other than the one in which the student is enrolled.

Organizational Meeting - the first meeting of the school board after a general election or on the anniversary of a general election. The chair and vice-chair are elected at this meeting.

Pedagogy - strategies or style of instruction.

Personalized Learning Environments - the tailoring of pedagogy, curriculum, and learning methods to meet the unique needs and aspirations of individual learners, often with extensive use of technology in the process.

Professional Learning - within the context of Rocky View's Three Year Plan, refers to inservices and professional development activities.

Program Unit Funding (PUF) - funding available to ECS program operators to provide individual programs for children with severe disabilities. This funding is available for a maximum of three years and is designed to provide continuous support up to Grade 1.

Programs of Study - identify what students are expected to learn and be able to do in all subjects and grades.

Provincial Achievement Tests (PAT) – tests that are administered annually in French and English Language Arts and Mathematics in Grade 3, and English and French Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies in Grades 6 and 9. PAT’s are administered to determine if students are learning what they are expected to learn, as well as to provide a report to the province as to how well students have achieved provincial standards at given points in their schooling. PAT’s assist schools, authorities, and the province in monitoring and improving student learning.

Public Private Partnership (P3s) - concept for providing schools through, but not limited to:

• financing options such as developer build/lease back
• partnerships to provide new schools in new subdivisions
• partnerships involving school boards, private sector developers, municipal government and community organizations
• re-use excess school space • sharing facilities with post-secondary educational institutions and business organizations.

Registered Apprenticeship Program - experiential learning undertaken by a senior high school student: 1. as an integral part of a planned school program; 2. which is under the co-operative supervision of a teacher co-ordinator and the employer; 3. where a student is a registered apprentice; 4. where the program meets the acts and regulations of Alberta Advanced Education and Technology relating to apprenticeship training; and 5. which constitutes a separate course based on 25 hours per credit.

Regulation - a rule or order having the force of law issued by the executive branch of a government. In school systems, a regulation derives from board policy and is viewed as a directive for action.

Resident Student - a student of the school jurisdiction in which his or her parents reside and who is a student for which a board receives funding.

Rubric - an assessment tool for communicating expectations of quality.

School Annual Results Report (SARR) – each school is required to submit an annual results report, which is reviewed by the Superintendent of Schools, the Associate Superintendent of Schools and the Director of Schools. The SAAR contains results from the Alberta Education and RVS Accountability Pillar, the Satisfaction Survey, PAT results, as well as an analysis of results derived from s school-specific surveys and other school-specific information.

School Councils - a group of parents of students attending the school that provide functions set out in section 17 of the School Act. According to the School Act, each school council shall be established in accordance with the regulations for each school operated by the board.

School Education Plan (SEP) – each school is required to submit an annual School Education Plan (SEP) to the Superintendent of Schools for approval. This plan is developed in consultation with staff, and with advice from the School Council, and according to parameters, guidelines, and expectations outlined in RVS’ SEP Manual and other Superintendent directives and procedures. The plan details the school’s mission and vision statements, recent achievements, expected challenges, and outlines goals, outcomes, performance measures, and outlines strategies developed to meet said goals.

Severe Disabilities - this term refers to students who have severe emotional/behavioural disabilities, severe cognitive disabilities, severe delays involving language, deafness, blindness, severe physical and medical disabilities or severe multiple disabilities.

Site-Based Management - involves principals, staff members and school councils in making decisions about instructional programs and services at the school level and how funds are allocated to them. Syn. site-based decision-making

Special Education - special education refers to the education of students and ECS children identified with mild, moderate, or severe disabilities or as gifted and talented.

Standardized Tests - a test administered according to standardized procedures which assesses a student’s performance by comparison to standards. In the case of provincial achievement tests, the standards are acceptable standard and standard of excellence.

Strike - Includes: 1. cessation of work; 2. refusal to work; 3. refusal to continue to work by two or more employees acting together for the purpose of compelling their employer to agree to terms or conditions of employment.

Student Information System (SIS) - a software application used by the jurisdiction to manage student data. An SIS provides capabilities for entering student test and other assessment scores through an electronic grade book, building student schedules, tracking student attendance, and managing many other student-related data needs.

SuperNet - the Alberta SuperNet was built to connect public institutions across the province – schools, hospitals, colleges, universities, libraries, and municipal offices – to a broadband network for high-speed Internet access, video conferencing, and other services.

Suspension: Student - when a principal or teacher suspends a student from attending school.

Teacher - in Alberta, an individual employed by a school board who, as a condition of employment, must possess a valid Alberta teaching certificate.

Three Year Plan (3YP) – As mandated by Alberta Education, all jurisdictions are required to develop a rolling three year plan that outlines jurisdictional goals and objectives.

Trans-Disciplinary Practices - lesson plans that cross two or more disciplinary boundaries (i.e., subjects) to create a holistic approach to learning.

Understanding by Design (UbD) - a framework for improving student achievement. Emphasizing the teacher's critical role as a designer of student learning, UbD works within the standards-driven curriculum to help teachers clarify learning goals, devise revealing assessments of student understanding, and craft effective and engaging learning activities.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) - an approach calls for teachers to develop individual learning plans for students and helps meet the challenge of diversity by suggesting flexible instructional materials, techniques, and strategies that empower educators to meet these varied needs.

Utilization Factor - the formula established by the provincial government to how full a school is. It is expressed as a percentage.

Wrap-Around Services - a team of individuals from different organizations who tend to the well-being of a child or youth by collaboratively developing, implementing and evaluating an individualized plan of care.

Year: Fiscal - the year within which an organization collects and spends money.

Year: School - in Alberta, a board establishes the opening and closing dates of all schools under its jurisdiction for the following 12-month period. 

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