Elementary School Terminology

Your Guide to Education Lingo

It can be difficult to understand educational terminology with all the acronyms and buzzwords. We’ve compiled a list of essential education terminology for your convenience.

1:1: Each student has one laptop or device. 8 Strategies for Managing the 21st Century Classroom has more information.

21st Century Skills: A broad term that refers to the skills of tomorrow. According to Education Week, “21st-century skills” is used to describe core competencies like collaboration, digital literacy, and problem-solving. Advocates believe that schools must teach these core competencies to ensure students succeed in today’s world.”

504 Plan A plan to provide services, accommodations, access, and support for students with disabilities. An IEP is a 504 Plan. This allows students to receive special education services. Students who have a 504 can’t also have an IEP. A 504 plan is transferable to college.

ADD/ADHD: Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Psychology Today’s article explains them both in detail.


  • Formative Evaluates student learning at the start or during a unit. This information provides information to the learner and teacher about what needs adjustment. You can use many useful formative assessment tools to assess your students’ understanding and modify your teaching to help them learn.
  • Summative: Evaluate students’ learning at the end of a unit. It could be an essay or final exam, but there are many advantages to offering alternative summative assessments.

Backward Design: Designing curriculum in reverse by starting with the goals, assessments, and outcomes first. Making Student Assessments Useful, Productive, and Effective.

BYOD Bring your device with pros.

CCLS Common Core Learning Standards. Used in more than 41 states

Charter school: A school that is run privately and does not receive public funding. This interview features three charter experts to provide more details about the charter school debate.

Classroom Management: How educators manage their classrooms concerning routines and behavior. 5 Tips for Better Classroom Management

Co-Teaching/Collaborative Teaching/Team Teaching: When teams work together either in content teams or as co-teachers in the same classroom.

Design Thinking From Stanford University, the Design Thinking process involves five steps: empathize. Students can use the same process that the world’s greatest thinkers and inventors do to solve problems and invent solutions in classrooms.

ELL: English Language Learner. There are many strategies to use and best practices for teaching ELLs.

ESL/ESOL English as a Second Language/English For Speakers of Other Languages. This student group can be taught effectively using ESOL instructional strategies.

FERPA The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a federal law, protects student education records.

Flipped Class: Vanderbilt University describes flipped classroom learning as “students get a first exposure to new material outside the class, usually via lecture videos or readings, and then use the class time to do the hard work of assimilating it, possibly through problem-solving or debates.”

Dr. Growth Mindset: Dr. Carol Dweck created the terms “fixed mindset”, and “growth mindset” to describe the beliefs people hold about their ability to learn. A growth mindset is a belief that students can learn through hard work and thrive on challenges, and that failures are an opportunity to improve. There are many ways teachers can develop a growth mindset.

G&T/GT: Gifted and Talented. Here is a brief history of Gifted or Talented education.

IDEA Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 1975

IEP Individualized Educational Plan – A personalized document created for a student who requires special education services.

ISTE International Society for Technology in Education

IT instructional Technology. Technology is used often to address diverse issues and meet educational needs.

LMS Learning Management System — Software used by schools to track grades and deliver the curriculum.


LOTE Languages Other than English Learn more about inclusion within the LOTE classroom.

Makerspaces – Makespaces encourage students to try, fail and then try again, just like the world’s greatest innovators do every day in their studios and labs. There are many Makerspaces, from large fabrication shops to tiny carts filled with craft supplies. Learn more about Makerspaces.

MetacognitionThinking about thought, or reflecting on one’s learning experiences. This technique of self-awareness helps students reflect on their learning experiences. Metacognition can take place through reflection exercises, writing, vlogging, meditation, and even through writing.

MOOC Massive Online Courses Are online courses that are open to all.

NAEP The National Assessment of Educational Progress measures American students’ progress across a variety of subjects. The NAEP, also known as The Nation’s Report Card is a measurement of American students’ progress in different subjects. It has existed since 1969.

NCLB The No Child Left Behind Act was passed in 2001. President George W. Bush signed it in 2002. It strengthened the federal government’s role to ensure that schools make academic progress. It required schools to improve performance for underrepresented groups such as ELLs, special educators students, and minorities. States/schools could lose Title 1 funding if they didn’t participate.

NEA National Education Association

NGSS Next Generation Science Standards is essentially the science arm to the Common Core Learning Standards.

Open Source A movement to make educational materials available online for free. This resource roundup is worth a look.

PARCC Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers consists of states and other organizations that use a set of K-12 standards and CCLS aligned standardized tests (owned by Pearson) for English and math.

PBL Project-Based Learning where students learn through a lengthy project. Or Problem-Based Learning where students solve a problem or answer.

PD/PLProfessional development or professional learning

PISA Program for International Student Assessment. Students aged 15 years old in OECD countries are tested on their ability to solve problems collaboratively and in mathematics. The PISA test was first administered in 2000. It is retaken every three years.

PLN/PLC A Personal Learning Network (or Professional Learning Community) is a group of people you have made connections with through social media, or through an organization.

Race to the Top/RTTT/R2TA Race to the Top Fund of $4.35 billion is the largest federally competitive investment in school reform. According to the U.S., it will reward states for their past achievements, provide incentives for future improvement, and challenge states with comprehensive strategies to address the four key areas of reform that will lead to school improvement. Department of Education.

Scaffolding is A method of teaching where the teacher provides support and then steps back so that students can try it themselves. The training wheels are one example of a scaffold that can be used to teach a child how to ride a bicycle. As an adult, the child can ride alongside him. According to Guided instruction by Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, this means that the adult will temporarily handle the more difficult parts while the child can try the simpler ones.

SEL Social Emotional Learning — According to the Collaborative to Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) “Social and Emotional Learning (SEL)” is “the process by which children and adults obtain and effectively use the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary for understanding and managing emotions, setting and achieving positive goals, feeling and showing empathy, establishing and maintaining positive relationships and making responsible decisions.

Standards-Based Grading: A system that breaks down a subject into smaller goals, and where learning is assessed through each target. Example: “I can locate the central idea within a piece of fiction.”

STEAM Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math. Learn more about the significance of art and humanities within the STEAM.

STEM: Science Technology Engineering and Math. Learn more about the history and evolution of STEM.

TESOL/TESLTeaching English in Other Languages and English as a Second Language.

Title 1: Federal funding for schools with high numbers of low-income students to support learners and meet educational standards.

UDL Universal Design for Learning ( Method for Learning and Teaching) is a method that combines brain science to offer flexibility and remove obstacles, so all learners can succeed.