This glossary lists acronyms and technical terms that are often used by Westford staff.
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Accommodations: Changes in the way instruction and assessments are delivered to respond to the special needs of students with disabilities.
AD: Athletic Director.
Alternative Assessment: Alternative ways of measuring learning beyond the use of a pencil and paper test. Alternative assessments can include more direct ways of assessing achievement including the evaluation of work samples and portfolios.
AP: Advanced Placement. (1) A college entrance exam based on college-level courses. A student who does well on an AP exam may earn credit or advanced placement in college. (2) Westford Academy courses exam based on college-level courses.
AYP: Adequate Yearly Progress. The minimum level of yearly progress toward achieving state academic standards that school districts and schools must achieve each year under the federal No Child Left Behind (PL 107-110) law.
Benchmark: A detailed description of a specific level of student achievement expected of students at a particular grade level.
Bullying: is defined as repeated acts by a person or group of people that ridicule, humiliate, or intimidate another person or group. Bullying is also characterized by an imbalance in power between the involved parties.
Bullying may include, but is not limited to:
- Physical assaults (pushing, kicking, tripping, shoving, bumping into, etc.)
- Verbal or written threats or insults
- Threatening or obscene gestures or actions
- Name calling
- Racial/ethnic/religious slurs
- Sexual harassment
- Practical jokes
- Spreading rumors
- Inappropriate peer pressure
- False reporting
- Sub-bullying – Stalking, isolating, staring, intimidating
CBA: Common Benchmark Assessment. A test or other assessment administered across the district to evaluate student performance toward Westford curriculum benchmarks.
Collaborative model: Method of integrating technology and information skills into the curriculum in which the classroom teacher is supported by the Instructional Technology Specialist or Library Media Specialist. Units that are taught fully within the collaborative model involve co-planning, co-teaching, and co-assessment by the two educators (classroom teacher and ITS or LMS).
Criterion-referenced test: A test that measures how well a student has learned a specific body of knowledge and skills. The goal is typically to have every student attain a passing mark, not to compare students to each other.
Cyber-Bullying: is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using electronic communications such as the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones.
Differentiated Instruction: Instruction that offers several different learning experiences within one lesson to meet students' varied needs or learning styles.
DOE: Department of Education. Formerly used to refer to the Massachusetts Department of Education, now renamed as the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE). Can also refer to the federal cabinet-level department.
DRA: Developmental Reading Assessment. An assessment used to determine reading accuracy, fluency, and comprehension level of students in the primary grades.
DRP: Degrees of Reading Power. An assessment of how well students in the upper elementary grades understand the surface meaning of what they read. The DRP measures the process of reading rather than products of reading such as identifying the main idea or author purpose.
ELL: English Language Learner. A student whose first language is other than English and who is in a special program for learning English.
ESL: English as a Second Language. Classes or support programs for students whose native language is not English.
ESE: Used to refer to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Massachusetts education agency which administers state funding for education and enforces state education laws and regulations
Essential questions: Basic questions used to provide focus for a unit of study. Such questions need to be derived from vitally important themes and topics whose answers cannot be summarized concisely. Example: "What is distinctive about the American experience?"
Exemplar: Samples of student work used to show other students what they are expected to do or to help teachers (and students) evaluate student work when it is completed.
FEP: Fluent English Proficient. A designation that means that a student is no longer considered as part of the school's English learner population.
Formative assessment: Any form of assessment used by an educator to evaluate students' knowledge and understanding of particular content and then to adjust instructional practices accordingly toward improving student achievement in that area.
Frameworks: Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Documents that contain Massachusetts learning standards that define the content, skills, and content that could be taught in the public schools in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12. The framework standards are those upon which the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) is based. The seven framework documents set the standards in Arts, English Language Arts, Foreign Languages, Comprehensive Health, Mathematics, History and Social Science, Science and Engineering.
Free/Reduced-priced meals: A federal program that provides food for students from low-income families.
Highly Qualified Teacher: A licensed educator who has met additional requirements under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act.
IEP: Individual Education Plan. A written education plan for students with special needs who are in a special education program. The IEP is developed by a team of professionals and the child's parents. It is based on a multidisciplinary evaluation of the student, describes how the student is presently doing, what the student's learning needs are, and what services the student will need. They are reviewed and updated yearly. IEPs are required under Public Law 94-142, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Inclusion: The practice of placing students with disabilities in regular classrooms; also known as mainstreaming.
Information literacy: The competencies and skills students need to locate, retrieve, evaluate, analyze, and use information. These competencies are developed over time and are essential for lifelong learning. Information literacy is taught by combining the curriculum expertise of the classroom teacher and the research expertise of the school librarian.
IPDP: Individual Professional Development Plan. A written professional growth plan for Massachusetts educators who hold a professional license. An IPDP is required for license renewal purposes and must be consistent with the educational goals of the school and/or district and enhance the ability of the educator to improve student learning.
Integrated curriculum: The practice of using a single theme to teach a variety of subjects or of combining several subjects in one learning activity.
ITS: Instructional Technology Specialist. Educator licensed in the application of educational technology. ITS collaborate with teachers in integrating technology into the curriculum to deepen understanding in academic areas and to help students attain the state's technology standards.
Learning Center: Place in the school where special education students receive individual tutoring or small group instruction under the supervision of a special educator.
LMC: Library-Media Center. The school library.
LMS: Library Media Specialist. A school's licensed school librarian who collaborates with teachers in integrating information literacy ("research") skills and reading appreciation. The LMS also manages the school library.
MA: Multiage. In Westford, a classroom containing a mixture of 5 to 8 year-old students where all students study unites in the first and second grade curriculum together, each at their own level.
Mainstreaming: The practice of placing students with disabilities in regular classrooms; also known as inclusion.
Manipulatives: Three-dimensional teaching aids and visuals that teachers use to help students with math concepts. Typical tools include counting beads or bars, base ten blocks, shapes, fraction parts, and rulers.
MCAS: Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System. State-required tests intended to assess students' knowledge in knowledge in Reading/English/Language Arts, Mathematics, History/Social Science and Science/Technology/Engineering. The questions are a mixture of multiple choice and open-ended (written) answers.
MRF: Mathematics Resource Facilitator. A teaching assistant who provides intervention to students in need of mathematics support.
NCLB: No Child Left Behind Law. Name given to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Act, the principal federal law affecting K-12 education. The law (PL 107-110) requires that all children be assessed each year in order to show adequate yearly progress in reading and mathematics.
Norm-referenced assessment: An assessment in which an individual or group's performance is compared with a larger group. Usually the larger group is representative of a cross-section of all US students.
504 Plan: A plan of instructional services to assist students with special needs who are in a regular education setting.
PD: Professional Development.
Pedagogy: The art of teaching—especially the conscious use of particular instructional methods.
Percentile rank: One way to compare a given child, class, school, or district to a national norm.
PLC: Professional Learning Community.
Portfolio: A collection of various samples of a student’s work throughout the school year that can include writing samples, examples of math problems, and results of science experiments.
Professional Development: Process by which a teacher learns and keeps up-to-date in her/his area of expertise and licensure. Professional development can take a variety of forms including formal or informal workshops and courses, independent study, research, or curriculum development.
Professional Learning Community: A collegial group of educators (teachers and administrators) who work together to improve student learning through a variety of activities that may include sharing a vision, working and learning corroboratively, visiting and observing other classrooms, and participating in shared decision making. Each of Westford's schools are committed to building and strengthening a school-wide Professional Learning Community.
Reading Recovery: A specific early intervention program for use with children at risk in reading progress after one year of schooling.
Resource Room: Place in the school where special education students receive individual tutoring or small group instruction under the supervision of a special educator.
RR: Acronym that may be used to refer to (1) Reading Recovery or (2) the Resource Room.
RRF: Reading Resource Facilitator--a teaching assistant who provides intervention to students in need of literacy support.
Rubric: A grading or scoring system. A rubric is a scoring tool that lists the criteria to be met in a piece of work. A rubric also describes levels of quality for each of the criteria.
SAC: School Advisory Council (see below).
Scaffolding: The way a teacher provides support to make sure students succeed at complex tasks they couldn't do otherwise. Most teaching is done as the students go about the task, rather than before they start.
School Advisory Council: A school building-based committee composed of the principal, parents, teachers, community members and, at the secondary level, students to plan and set goals for school improvement.
School Improvement Plan: Annually revised plan for improving the school prepared by the principal with the assistance of the School Council.
SIP: School Improvement Plan.
Sister Schools: Geographic-based parings of a K-2 and 3-5 elementary school in Westford. In most cases, when students finish grade 2, they enter grade 3 in the sister school. The sister schools are Miller-Day, Nabnasset-Abbot, and Robinson-Crisafulli.
SNT: Special Needs Teacher. A licensed Special Educator who provides services to students in the Special Education program.
Special Education: Programs designed to serve students whose needs cannot be met in the regular education program. Special education services are provided in accordance with Public Law 94-142, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
SPED: Special Education.
Spiraling curriculum: An approach to curriculum design that provides for periodic revisiting of key topics over a period of time, presenting them in greater depth each time.
TA: Teaching Assistant. A paraprofessional who assists and works under the supervision of a licensed educator.
Title I: A section of the federal education act that addresses closing the achievement gap between low-income and other students. Schools that qualify for Title I funding may use the funding to establish programs aimed at raising student achievement.
TLC: Technology Learning Center. The school's technology center, often referred to as the "computer lab."
TPD: Technology Professional Development. Professional development related to the use of learning technology in teaching the curriculum.
WA: Westford Academy. Westford's public high school, founded in 1794.
WPS: Westford Public Schools.
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