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Chapter 9

A Glossary of Education Terms



Academic intervention services – Services required of the school district to provide extra help to students who are not yet meeting the learning standards.

Accountability – Requiring school districts and states to ensure that schools meet their goals/standards.

ACT – A testing system designed by the ACT Corporation (ACT) to assess high school students’ general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work.

Adequate yearly progress – The measurement established to determine the progress toward attaining proficiency in state assessments for all students and students in certain specified accountability groups in each public school, school district and charter school.

Alternative assessment – Any testing instrument other than standardized, multiple-choice questions, such as short-answer response and extended response, observation, individual or group performance assessment, and portfolios.

Appropriation – An authorization from the board of education or voters to make expenditures and to incur obligations for specific purposes.

Assessed valuation – The monetary worth of all property in the district as determined by the municipal assessor.

Assessment – Measuring or judging the learning and performance of students or teachers.

Average daily attendance –The aggregate days of attendance during a given reporting period divided by the number of days school is in session during that period. An important element in determining state aid.

Average daily membership – The sum of possible days attendance divided by the total days of instruction.

Average score – The mean (or average) scale score for each grade within a school or district for successive years for purposes of tracking relative academic growth from one year to the next.

Behavioral intervention plan – A behavioral intervention plan is most commonly a plan that is based on the results of a functional behavioral assessment under a student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) (it can be also be a district initiated standalone plan outside of an existing IEP) and, at a minimum, includes a description of the problem behavior, global and specific hypotheses as to why the problem behavior occurs and intervention strategies that include positive behavioral supports and services to address the behavior.

Benchmark – A detailed description of a specific level of performance expected of students at particular ages, grades or developmental levels, typically used to monitor progress toward meeting performance goals within and across grade levels.

Block grants – Federal or state funding distributed in a lump sum directly to states or localities to administer and direct programs.

Categorical aid – State or federal aid which is intended to finance or reimburse a specific category of instructional or support programs or to aid a particular target group of pupils.

Charter school – An “independent and autonomous public school” established under state charter school law, eligible for funding from both private and public local, state and federal monies. In Wisconsin, charter schools can be authorized by a local school board or specific entities authorized under state law.

Cohort – A group of students who share the same statistical or demographic characteristic, such as grade level.

Common Core Learning Standards – A set of national standards that define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers in order to graduate from high school able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce training programs.

Core curriculum – The body of knowledge that all students are expected to learn.


Data-driven (or data-based) decision-making – Analyzing varied forms of data to identify educational strengths and/or weaknesses to plan for and implement improvements in student achievement as well as monitoring trends, and using this information to make decisions about the effectiveness of continuation or changes in district practices, curriculum, programs, procedures and policies.

Deficit – The amount by which total expenditures exceed total revenues for the fiscal year.

Demographic data – Information describing the students and citizens of a school district; usually includes characteristics such as race, age, gender, income, educational level and profession.

Distance learning – A mode of delivering education and instruction via the internet without a student physically attending the class.

Educator Effectiveness – The Wisconsin Educator Effectiveness System is a performance-based continuous improvement system designed to improve the education of all students in the state of Wisconsin by supporting guided, individualized, self-determined professional growth and development of educators.

Equalized value – The equalized value is the estimated value of all taxable real and personal property in each taxation district, by class of property, as of January 1, and certified by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue on August 15 of each year.
Executive session – A portion of the school board meeting that is not open to the public, most commonly referred to under the law as a closed session.

Forward – The Forward Assessment is a statewide Wisconsin Student Assessment System standardized exam. The exam was given to students in grades 3 through 8 and 10 and measured student achievement in two subject areas: English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. This exam was given starting in school year 2015-16.

Fund balance – The reserves districts have to protect education programs and avoid property tax spikes when state aid is reduced or unexpected contingencies occur.


GASB – Governmental Accounting Standards Board, which sets the accounting rules for all governmental entities, including school districts.

Growth model – An accountability system that tracks student achievement over time.

Inclusion – Educating students with disabilities as appropriate in a regular classroom setting along with students without disabilities.

Individualized Education Program (IEP) – A written statement outlining the plan for providing an educational program for a student with disabilities based on the unique needs of that student.


Learning standards – The level of knowledge, skills and understanding that students should be able to demonstrate over time as a result of instruction or experience. There are generally two types of standards: content standards (what children should know, understand and be able to do as a result of their schooling) and performance standards (acceptable levels of student achievement).

Local revenue – Revenue category that includes resources from either property taxes or other local sources (fees, interest payments, insurance refunds, etc.).


Magnet school – A school that offers enriched curriculum in one or more subject areas; sometimes used as a means of desegregation.

Membership – Average number of resident, full-time equivalency (FTE) students on the third Friday of September and 2nd Friday of January (including part-time attendance by home-based or private school students) plus the summer school and foster group home FTE. 

Open Meetings Law – A state law that governs the conduct of school board meetings.


Parliamentary procedure – A system of organizing a meeting to ensure an orderly, democratic process; Robert’s Rules of Order is most commonly used in Wisconsin.

Performance-based assessment – Tests which measure students’ abilities to perform tasks and solve problems rather than choosing answers from a number of possibilities.

Public Records Law – A state law that gives the public access to government records, as a way to foster increased understanding of and participation in government. The law provides a list of the kinds of records that are exempted.

Rubric – Used to evaluate student or teacher performance on specific tasks that cannot be scored by machine; specific descriptions, usually three or four, of what a particular task looks like at several different levels of performance.


SAT – A suite of tests intended to determine whether a student is “college ready.”

Section 504 – Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires a school district to provide a “free and appropriate education” to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district’s jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability.

Title I – A federal aid program to provide schools with a high percentage of low-income families with additional funds to improve academic achievement.

Title IX – Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.

Value-added assessment – A type of growth model that focuses on the gains made year to year by individual students, their schools and districts.

Voucher – A way to allocate and distribute money to pay for a child’s education in a private school.

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