In every profession there are terms, phrases, and abbreviations that are common knowledge only to insiders. For the rest of us, the lingo can be very confusing. This glossary is intended to offer simple explanations of what are sometimes complex issues in education. It is far from complete but may help you better understand important trends and topics. Bear in mind that the meaning of many of these terms may vary, even from school district to school district.
IEP (Individual Education Plan)
Individual Education Plans are usually written for the "at-risk" child or the child enrolled in an exceptional or special education class. Whether the student is gifted or in need of remediation, the individual education plan is a written plan that the child's teachers and parents agree to follow to assure the child makes academic progress. The IEP can do any or all of the following: explain the type of classroom setting and special teacher, spell out the amount of time per week the child will receive special instruction, specify the materials he will be expected to use, clarify the types of homework he will have, and list the types of assessment that will be given and list specific goals that will be met over a definite time period. IEPs are usually reviewed at least two times a year in a meeting with various members of the school staff and the parent.
IQ (Intelligence Quotient)
The Intelligence Quotient is a measure of an individual's ability to learn. It has been used for years, and its validity has been a source of controversy from its inception. This measure is derived from a series of tests designed to indicate the individual's potential for learning new material. The average IQ is 100. A child with an IQ over 130 is considered "gifted" in most districts; a child with an IQ below 70 is considered "Educationally Mentally Handicapped," or a "slow learner."
In the past, schools created special classes for students with special needs. Thus deaf children, physically handicapped children, and children with Down syndrome have all been housed in classes of children with similar problems. "Inclusion" is the broad term used to mean "mainstreaming" exceptional (or special) education students back into the regular classroom. It is now the trend to try to place students in the "least restrictive environment," which usually means placing these students in the regular classroom with "regular" education students.
This is the one area of all standardized testing where children consistently get the lowest scores. To infer means to draw a conclusion from the information presented. Because children have such difficulty in doing this, teachers often hear the refrain, "But it doesn't say that in here!" An example of an inference: the story of Cinderella does not say her age or size, but you can infer that Cinderella was young and petite because hers was the only foot that would fit in the tiny glass slipper.