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Rae Largura: Decoding Often-Used Education Acronyms

The world is a busy place, and sometimes you just don’t have time to say three or four words in a row to describe the idea you would like to convey. Luckily, that’s where the acronym comes into play: a string of letters, each one representing its own word, which can usually be articulated using less hot air than the original idea it represents.

Of course, every field has its own acronyms — academics certainly not excluded — and things can quickly get confusing to an outsider, especially when people start tossing them around in conjunction with one another.

We’ve compiled a few education-related acronyms that we feel are important to help you follow along at the next PTA meeting.

» 1. STAR (Standardized Testing and Reporting)

If you have children who are in school, you are probably familiar with STAR testing. The program was the center of California’s Public Schools Accountability Act in 1999, the purpose of which is to help California schools improve students’ academic achievement. Students between grades 2 and 11 are tested on a wide range of subjects, with results driving the allocation of millions of dollars in state award programs.

» 2. APR (Accountability Progress Reporting)

The APR system is a publicly accessible compilation of reports prepared by the California Department of Education (CDE) to measure the academic success of each school, school district and LEA (local education agency). The report is primarily comprised of three major components: the API report, AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) report and PI (Program Improvement) report. So many acronyms!

» 3. API (Academic Performance Index)

Wondering how a school fares academically? Every spring California schools are given an API number between 200 and 1,000. The score is based on test results across the four core subject matter areas of math, science, English/language arts and history/social studies, and are used to compare a school’s performance to other schools with similar demographics and teaching credentials. These numbers are meant to steer focus towards accountability and allow schools to set attainable growth targets.

» 4. CAHSEE (California High School Exit Exam)

The CAHSEE was created in 1999 by the CDE to improve academic performance of high school graduates. Public school students must pass the exam before they can receive their diploma. Students first take the exam — which tests skills in reading, writing and math — in their sophomore year, and have eight subsequent chances to pass before the end of their senior year.

Stumped by another education-related acronym? Feel free to email me at [email protected]. Ask a Tutor runs biweekly.

— Rae Largura is president of Leading Edge Tutors. The opinions expressed are her own.

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