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Federal Education Law Glossary


This usually means grades and tests. A student's academic achievement is compared to a norm or to an average of all students' performance.


(Adequate Yearly Progress) The minimum level of improvement that states, school districts, and schools must achieve each year as they progress toward being 100 percent proficient by 2014.

Basic skills

Reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Criterion-referenced assessments

These are meant to show what a student knows, understands, or can do in relation to specific performance objective. They are used to identify student strengths and weaknesses. They focus on what each child has learned and assume that most students can achieve the objectives of the curriculum.


(Elementary and Secondary Education Act) The main federal law affecting pre-K—12 education in the United States. It was first enacted in 1965.


A grade is a symbol, traditionally a number or letter, that summarizes the level of a student's work.


(Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) The federal law designed to provide special education for specific categories of disability. For qualifying disabled students, school districts must provide free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment as specified in a child's annual individual education plan.


(Local Education Agency) The public board of education or other governing body that oversees public elementary or secondary schools within a city, township, county, school district, or other political subdivision.

Norm-referenced assessments

These are meant to show how a student's performance or test results rank when compared to the work of his peers. These assessments assume that some students will do very well, some will do very poorly, and most will fall somewhere in the middle. They focus on providing information about which child knows most and which knows least and how to rank the work of everyone in between.


(State Education Agency) The public board of education or other governing body that oversees state administration of public education programs.

Standardized test

A test taken by many students under identical conditions that are meant to allow results to be compared statistically to a standard such as a norm or an average.


Academic guidelines for what all students should know and be able to do in a variety of subjects such as math, science, or language arts.

Title I

The first section and flagship program of the ESEA; it refers to teaching and learning assistance to the nation's high-poverty schools. It serves 12.5 million children.