Edu-speak: Schools’ alphabet soup

By Joshua Benton
Staff Writer

Page 10H

Confused by the alphabet soup of acronyms educators throw around? Don’t know your M&O from your I&S, your TAAS from your TAKS from your TEKS? We’re here to clear up your confusion (well, some of it):

ADD, ADHD: Attention deficit disorder, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The conditions that often make parents consider putting children on Ritalin.

AEIS: Academic Excellence Indicator System. AEIS reports (available online) pull together all sorts of data on schools and school districts. They mostly include test scores, but AEIS reports give parents a way to figure out how their school is doing.

AP, IB: Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate programs. Both offer high-level academic work for motivated high school students. In Texas, AP courses are more common.

ARD: Admission, Review and Dismissal. An ARD committee is the body that determines what sort of educational environment a special education student will be placed in.

ATPE, TCTA, TFT, TSTA: The four major statewide teacher organizations. The Texas Federation of Teachers and the Texas State Teachers Association are affiliated with national teachers unions; the Association of Texas Professional Educators and the Texas Classroom Teachers Association aren’t.

EOC: The End-of-Course Exams, state tests given to students taking algebra, U.S. history, English II and biology. But 2002 was the last year for the EOCs; their material will be covered in the new TAKS (see below).

ESC: Education Service Centers, the 20 offices around the state that link the TEA to school districts.

ESEA, a.k.a. NCLB: The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the main federal education law. It’s renewed about once a decade. President Bush signed the latest version into law in January; his office calls it “No Child Left Behind.”

ExCET: Examination for the Certification of Educators in Texas, the state test new teachers must pass to become certified. This fall, it’s being replaced by a new test called the Texas Examination of Educator Standards (TExES).

FERPA: The Family Education Rights & Privacy Act, the federal legislation that keeps most student records private.

GED: The General Educational Development exam. The alternative to a standard high school diploma.

IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the main federal legislation dealing with special education. Its major goal is to put as many special-ed kids in regular schools as possible.

IEP: Individual Educational Plan. It’s the plan put forth by teachers, parents and counselors to educate a special-education student.

LEP, ESL: LEP students have low English proficiency. They’re often put into English as a Second Language classes.

M&O, I&S: The two parts of the property tax you pay for schools: one for maintenance and operations and one for the interest and sinking fund, which goes to pay off school bonds and other debt.

NAEP: The National Assessment of Educational Progress, a battery of federal standardized tests in eight subject areas.

PEG: The Public Education Grant, Texas’ limited public school choice program, which allows students in bad schools to transfer to a neighboring district. But those neighboring districts aren’t required to accept them.

PEIMS: Public Education Information Management System, the massive data collection system the state uses to track students and schools.

PPE: Per-pupil expenditure, how much your school district spends on each of its kids.

SAT, ACT: The two major exams that high school students take to be admitted into the colleges of their choice.

SBOE: State Board of Education. Its members are elected from 15 districts across the state.

SES: Socio-economic status.

SSI: The Student Success Initiative, also known as the end of social promotion. Starting in 2003, third-graders will have to pass the TAKS reading test to advance to the fourth grade. Some exceptions apply. In 2005, fifth-graders will also have to pass the reading and math TAKS to go to sixth grade. In 2008, the same will be true of eighth-graders.

TAAS: Texas Assessment of Academic Skills. The state’s late, great standardized test. (R.I.P) It’s being replaced next year by the TAKS (see below).

TABS, TEAMS: The easier predecessors to the TAAS, given in the 1980s.

TAG: Talented and gifted. Some call it GT instead, for “gifted/talented.”

TAKS: Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. The new, more difficult TAAS.

TEA: The Texas Education Agency is the central bureaucracy that runs education at the state level.

TEKS: Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. The state curriculum standards, which outline what Texas schools must teach. The similarly named TAKS test will judge how much of the TEKS students know.

UIL: University Interscholastic League, the state body that regulates high school extracurricular competitions.

WADA: Weighted average daily attendance. An adjusted count of how many students a school has. Used for some state funding formulas.