• No Child Left Behind Glossary of Terms



    accountability system: state set academic standards for what every child should know and learn. Student academic achievement is measured for every child, every year. The results of these annual tests are reported to the public.
    adequate yearly progress; assessment

    achievement gap: difference between how well low-income and minority children perform on standardized tests as compared with their peers.
    disaggregated data

    adequate yearly progress (AYP): an individual state's measure of yearly progress toward achieving state academic standards. The minimum level of improvement that states, school districts and schools must achieve each year.
    accountability system; assessment

    alphabetic principle: using the printed letters of the written alphabet to represent individual speech sounds (phonemes).
    alphabetic writing system; phoneme

    alphabetic writing system: a system of symbols where individual symbols represent each consonant and vowel sound in a language.
    alphabetic principle; consonant; vowel

    assessment: another word for "test." Under No Child Left Behind, tests are aligned with academic standards. Schools must administer tests in each of three grade spans: grades 3-5, grades 6-9, and grades 10-12. Beginning in the 2005-06 school year, tests must be administered every year in grades 3 through 8 in math and reading. Beginning in the 2007-08 school year, science achievement must also be tested. accountability system; adequate yearly progresstop of page


    charter school: independent public schools designed and operated by educators, parents, community leaders, educational entrepreneurs, and others. Charter schools are sponsored by designated local or state educational organizations, who monitor their quality and effectiveness but allow them to operate outside of the traditional system of public schools.

    closed tasks: tasks that focus on a particular fact or piece of information from a text (i.e., How many legs does an octopus have?).
    open-ended tasks

    comprehension: The ability to understand and gain meaning from what has been read.
    reading fluency

    comprehensive instruction: instruction that includes the resources and tools to ensure student success in the five dimensions of reading: phonemic awarenessphonicsfluencyvocabularycomprehension.
    explicit instructionscaffolded instructionsystematic instruction

    concepts of print: basic insights about written language (i.e., printed English has a left-to-right orientation, or a printed word is preceded and followed by a space).

    consonant: a speech sound (phoneme) that is formed by obstructing the flow of air with the teeth, lips, or tongue; also called a closed sound in some instructional programs. English has twenty-five consonant phonemes.
    phonemes; vowel

    context: the language that surrounds a given word or phrase that can be helpful for determining—and sometimes contributes to—its meaning.

    corrective action: when a school or school district does not make yearly progress, the state will place it under a "Corrective Action Plan," which includes resources to improve teaching, administration, or curriculum.
    adequate yearly progress; public school choice option

    criterion referenced test: test designed to determine whether or not an individual has mastered a skill or behavior. Many skills tests are criterion referenced. For example, a phonics subtest might include 10 items assessing student mastery of the short o sound. Criterion referenced tests indicate what a passing score is. It is usually arbitrarily set at 80 or 90% correct of the test items, thus allowing for some probable test error.
    high stakes test; norm referenced test; standardized test; standards-based test

    cumulative instruction: teaching that proceeds in additive steps, building on concepts that were previously taught.top of page


    decodable texts: text in which a high proportion of words are made up of sound-symbol relationships that have already been taught in the classroom. Decodable texts are used to provide practice with specific decoding skills.
    decoding; phonics; predictable texts

    decoding: the ability to translate a word from print to speech, usually by drawing upon knowledge about sound-symbol relationships; also the act of deciphering a new word by sounding it out.
    decodable text

    direct instruction: instruction in which a teacher clearly defines and teaches a concept, guides students through its application, and arranges for extended guided practice of that concept until mastery is achieved.

    disaggregate: to separate a whole into its parts. 
    disaggregated data

    disaggregated data: test results are sorted into groups of students who are economically disadvantaged, from racial and ethnic minority groups, have disabilities, or have limited English fluency. This practice allows parents and teachers to see more than just the average score for their child's school by showing them how each student group is performing.
    achievement gap; disaggregate

    distinguished schools: Awards granted to schools when they make major gains in achievement.top of page


    Early Reading First: a nationwide effort to provide funds to school districts and other public or private organizations that serve children from low-income families. The Department of Education will make competitive 6-year grants to local education agencies to support early language, literacy, and pre-reading development of preschool-age children, particularly those from low-income families.
    Elementary and Secondary Education Act; Reading First; No Child Left Behind Act

    Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA): first enacted in 1965, ESEA is the principal federal law affecting K-12 education. No Child Left Behind is the most recent reauthorization of ESEA.
    Early Reading First; No Child Left Behind Act


    encoding: producing written symbols for spoken language; also, spelling by sounding out words.

    emerging literacy: the idea that children are constantly developing skills that will emerge into literacy, or allow them to become literate.

    explicit instruction: offers a clear, direct explanation of the skill or concept to be learned.
    comprehensive instruction; scaffolded instruction; systematic instruction

    expository text: text that reports factual information and relationships among ideas.
    narrativetop of page


    fluency: (see reading fluency)top of page


    grapheme: the smallest part of written language that represents a speech (phoneme) sound in the spelling of a word. A grapheme can be one, two, three or four letters (i.e., b, th, igh).
    phonemestop of page


    high stakes test: test that carries serious consequences for a student, a school, a school district, or even a state. For example, a student who fails a high stakes test could be retained; a school that performs poorly on a high stakes test could be forced into mandatory restructuring; a state could lose federal funding as a result of low test scores.
    criterion referenced test; norm referenced test; standardized test; standards-based testtop of page


    lexicon: name for the mental dictionary in every person's linguistic (language) processing system.

    Local Education Agency (LEA): a public board of education or other public authority within a state which maintains administrative control of public elementary or secondary schools in a city, county, township, school district, or other political subdivision of a state.
    State Educational Agencytop of page


    morpheme: the smallest meaningful unit of a language; may be a word or part of a word; it may be one or more syllables, as in un-in-ter-rupt-i-ble.
    grapheme; phonemes; syllabletop of page


    narrative: text that tells about a sequence of events, usually within the structure of a fiction or nonfiction story; often contrasted with expository text that reports factual information and relationships among ideas.
    expository text

    National Assessment of Educational Progress: a nationally representative and continuous assessment of what American students know and can do in various subject areas. Since 1969, The National Center for Education Statistics has conducted NAEP assessments in reading, mathematics, science, writing, U.S. history, geography, civics, and the arts.

    No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB): enacted in 2001, NCLB is designed to improve student achievement and change the culture of America's schools. With passage of NCLB, Congress reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). In amending ESEA, the new law is an overhaul of federal efforts to support elementary and secondary education in the United States. It is built on four pillars: accountability for results; an emphasis on doing what works based on scientific research; expanded parental options; and expanded local control and flexibility.
    Elementary and Secondary Education Act; Early Reading First

    norm referenced test: test that yields a score or scores that can be compared with the scores of a specified group of people who are representative of a larger group (norming group). Test scores can then be judged as high, average, or low compared to the scores of the norming group.
    criterion referenced test; high stakes test; standardized test; standards-based testtop of page


    onset: the initial consonant sound of a syllable (i.e., the onset of ball is b; of chalk, ch).
    rime; syllable

    open-ended tasks: instead of searching for hard facts, open-ended questions or assignments allow children to explore texts by making inferences and drawing conclusions (i.e., What is the moral, or lesson, of this story?).
    closed tasks

    oral language: spoken (as opposed to written) words.

    orthography: a writing system for representing language.top of page


    phoneme: the smallest part of spoken language that contributes to the meaning of a word. English has 40 to 44 phonemes according to various linguists. (i.e., the word if has two phonemes— /i/ and /f/)
    phoneme awareness

    phoneme awareness (also phonemic awareness): the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate the individual sounds in a spoken word.
    phoneme; phonics; phonological awareness; phonology

    phonics: the understanding that there is a predictable relationship between phonemes (speech sounds) and graphemes (letters that represent those sounds).
    graphemes; phoneme; phoneme awareness

    phonological awareness: the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate rimes, words, syllables, and onsets and rimes. Phoneme awareness is one piece of phonological awareness.
    onset; phoneme; phoneme awareness; phonics; phonology; rime; syllable

    phonology: the rule system within a language which determines how speech sounds (phonemes) can be sequenced, combined, and pronounced to make words.
    phoneme; phoneme awareness; phonological awareness

    predictable text: text that use rimes or repetition to help children learn to read.
    decodable text

    prefix: a word part (morpheme) that comes before a root of a word and contributes to or modifies its meaning.
    morpheme; root

    public school choice: students in schools identified as in need of improvement have the option to transfer to better public schools in their districts. The school districts will be required to provide transportation to the students. Priority will be given to low-income students.
    corrective actiontop of page


    Reading First: a national initiative aimed at helping every child in every state become a successful reader.
    Elementary and Secondary Education Act; No Child Left Behind Act; Early Reading First

    reading fluency: the speed of reading; the ability to read text quickly and accurately enough to support comprehension.
    comprehension; word recognition

    rime (rhyme): the part of a syllable that contains the vowel and all that follows it (i.e., the rime of ball is all; of chalk, alk).
    onset; syllable; vowel

    root: a bound word part, usually of Latin origin, that means nothing on its own but is used to form a family of words with related meanings.
    morphemetop of page


    scaffolded instruction: includes a strong teacher model that gradually guides students toward independence. The steps of scaffolded instruction include:

    • teacher coaches student by modeling or demonstrating the skill
    • teacher and student practice the skill together
    • student demonstrates the skill independently through a practice application
    comprehensive instruction; explicit instruction; systematic instruction

    scientifically-based research: as required by NCLB, is:

    • research that has been conducted by an independent, third party
    • longitudinal research (over several years) that spans several sequential grade levels
    • research that uses a clinical model with experimental control groups
    • research that has been replicated

    semantics: the study of word and phrase meanings and relationships.

    skills: discrete units of learning. Skills are generally less complex than strategies.

    standardized test: test that has specific procedures for administration and scoring so that scores are reliable and replicable. In almost all cases standardized tests are norm referenced.
    criterion referenced test; high stakes test; norm referenced test; standards-based test

    standards based assessment: as with criterion-referenced tests, an individual's score is based on a level of expectation for a specific age group or grade level.
    criterion referenced test; high stakes test; norm referenced test; standardized test

    State Educational Agency (SEA): the agency primarily responsible for the state supervision of public elementary and secondary schools.
    Local Education Agency

    strategies: plans for using skills to accomplish a larger task.

    suffix: a word part (morpheme) that is added to the end of a root or base, often changing the word's part of speech and modifying its meaning.
    morpheme; root

    supplemental services: students from low-income families who are attending schools that have been identified as in need of improvement for two years will be eligible to receive outside tutoring or academic assistance.

    syllable: a word part that contains a vowel or, in spoken language, a vowel sound (e-vent; news-pa-per).
    consonant; vowel

    systematic instruction: contains an instructional plan with an intentional, purposeful sequence. It may move from simple to more complex, such as in phonics instruction where learning begins with short vowels rather than with the more difficult vowel pairs.
    comprehensive instruction; explicit instruction; scaffolded instructiontop of page


    vocabulary: words students must know to read effectively.
    comprehension; reading fluency

    vowel: A speech sound created by the relatively free passage of breath through the larynx and oral cavity, usually forming the most prominent and central sound of a syllable. Also, a letter in the English alphabet such as a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y that represents a vowel.
    phonemes; syllabletop of page


    whole language: a philosophy of reading instruction that de-emphasizes the importance of phonics and phonology and emphasizes the importance of learning to recognize words as wholes by reading them in meaningful contexts.
    phonics; phonology

    word recognition: the instant recognition of a whole word in print.
    reading fluency