We’ve started this glossary of education terms. We’ll be updating this page and adding new terms periodically.

Curriculum & Instruction

Differentiated Instruction

Differentiation is a way of teaching; it’s not a program or package of worksheets. It asks teachers to know their students well so they can provide each one with experiences and tasks that will improve learning. Differentiating instruction means that you observe and understand the differences and similarities among students and use this information to plan instruction.

Source: www.scholastic.com


Vertical Alignment

When a curriculum is vertically aligned or vertically coherent, what students learn in one lesson, course, or grade level prepares them for the next lesson, course, or grade level. Teaching is purposefully structured and logically sequenced so that students are learning the knowledge and skills that will progressively prepare them for more challenging, higher-level work.

Source: www.edglossary.org


Horizontal Alignment

When a curriculum is horizontally aligned or horizontally coherent, what students are learning in one ninth-grade biology course, for example, mirrors what other students are learning in a different ninth-grade biology course. In addition, the assessments, tests, and other methods teachers use to evaluate learning achievement and progress are based on what has actually been taught to students and on the learning standards that the students are expected to meet in a particular course, subject area, or grade level.

Source: www.edglossary.org

Teacher-student ratio

The amount of students in a class assigned to one teacher.  It is the intent of this paragraph to provide a clear expectation to parents and guardians as to the maximum number of students that may be in their child’s classroom in kindergarten through eighth grade. Beginning with the 2006-2007 school year, for the following regular education programs, the maximum individual class size for mathematics, science, social studies, and language arts classes shall be:
(A) Kindergarten program (without full-time aide)……………….18
(B) Kindergarten program (with full-time aide)………………….20
(C) Primary grades program (1-3)………………………………21
(D) Upper elementary grades program (4-5)………………………28
(E) Middle school program (6-8) =lf 28

Source: Georgia Code 20-2-182


The International Baccalaureate (IB) Program is a non-profit foundation whose mission is to help students “develop the intellectual, personal, emotional, and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world.” It was founded in 1968, and runs in over 3000 schools in 141 countries. Its Diploma Program is designed for high school juniors and seniors, and offers classes in the same areas as traditional schools: math, science, English, foreign language, social studies, and the arts. Additionally, students have three extra requirements: a class about the theory of knowledge, a community service obligation, and an extended essay on a research topic of their choice. Along the way, students complete assessments that help them prepare for the final written exams, which are graded by external examiners. Upon graduation, students earn a diploma that is respected worldwide.


Source: www.education.com

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics)

A common definition is STEM education is an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with real-world lessons as students apply science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in contexts that make connections between school, community, work, and the global enterprise enabling the development of STEM literacy and with it the ability to compete in the new economy. (Tsupros, 2009)

Source: http://www.nsta.org/publications/news/story.aspx?id=59305


STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Mathematics)

An educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking.  The end results are students who take thoughtful risks, engage in experiential learning, persist in problem-solving, embrace collaboration, and work through the creative process.  These are the innovators, educators, leaders, and learners of the 21st century.

Source: http://educationcloset.com/steam/what-is-steam/


The STEM to STEAM movement has been taking root over the past several years and is surging forward as a positive mode of action to truly meet the needs of a 21st century economy.  STEM alone misses several key components that many employers, educators, and parents have voiced as critical for our children to thrive in the present and rapidly approaching future.  Much has been proclaimed about the need for more STEM “programs” in our schools.  The logic is simple: the wave of future economic prosperity lies in a workforce that is well-versed in rising job markets like science, technology, engineering and math.

Source: http://educationcloset.com/steam/what-is-steam/

College readiness

College readiness means that a student can enter a college classroom, without remediation, and successfully complete entry-level college requirements.

Source: http://collegeready.rice.edu/what-college-readiness


The intent is that the Georgia School Performance Standards will serve as a tool for all schools in Georgia. The Georgia Department of Education (Department) encourages the use the Georgia School Performance Standards by teams of professional educators at schools, districts, and Regional Educational Service Agencies as a tool to assist in measuring, guiding, and facilitating constant growth as schools strive for continuous improvement. The Georgia School Performance Standards are divided into eight broad strands: Curriculum, Assessment, Instruction, Professional Learning, Leadership, Planning and Organization, Family and Community Engagement, and School Culture. The eight strands have been further developed and defined into 48 performance standards and rubrics with four performance levels. A clear understanding of the four performance levels is essential to effectively use the Georgia School Performance Standards.

Not Evident (Level 1): The specific standard has not been implemented, or the implementation has generated little or no evidence of progress.

Emerging (Level 2): Initial steps to implement the specific standard have occurred, or the implementation has generated some early evidence of progress.

Operational (Level 3):  The specific standard has been implemented, the implementation has generated considerable evidence of progress, and the school has met the standard (this is indicated in the document by a lack of shading in each of the Operational levels).

Exemplary (Level 4): The specific standard has been implemented to a very high level, and the school can serve as a model for this standard for other schools.

Source: http://www.gadoe.org/School-Improvement/School-Improvement-Services/Documents/School%20and%20District%20Effectiveness/GA%20School%20Performance%20Standards.pdf


4 x 4 schedule

A method called 4×4 block scheduling splits the academic year into quarters, and uses a four-period day.[2] This leaves eight slots available for classes during a semester (four classes in each of two quarters). The 4×4 method is somewhat more flexible in that students can take two sequential classes (such as Algebra 1 and 2) in the same semester (in different quarters), which would not be possible on a traditional schedule. This also allows students in their final year to fail a third-quarter class but repeat it in the fourth quarter in order to graduate.

Source: www.wikipedia