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5 Education Buzzwords That Parents Should Know

5 Education Buzzwords That Parents Should Know

Navigating your state education agency’s website or staying up to date on the latest education news can feel like a daunting task with education terms and trends that you may be unfamiliar with. We wanted to help you stay in the know by breaking down the important points of these terms and definitions so that you can know what’s going on in your child’s classroom. Let’s get started.

Personalized Learning (also known as Individualized Learning)

Personalized learning emphasizes more personal instruction per student. Contrary to the traditional model of a teacher lecturing the same lesson to a group of students, which caters content to the “average” student, the personalized learning model seeks to give content catered to each student based on his or her individual level. The goal is to raise achievement and achieve equity by helping each student at his or her level attain success. This has only been possible with technological advances that give students a chance to develop personal learning paths. More and more teachers are implementing personalized learning methods in their classrooms. Consult with your child’s teacher to see if this is the method he or she is using in the classroom and how you as a parent can help your child’s academic growth within this model as well.

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State Accountability

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) mandates that states come up with their own accountability plans for schools. Before ESSA, the federal government set strict guidelines for schools to meet through the No Child Left Behind Act implemented in 2001. Now, with states taking the helm at developing their own accountability plans for schools to follow, the hope is for more realistic goals for schools to achieve and maintain. States need to have their accountability plans approved by the U.S. Department of Education before implementing, and many states are still in the process of having their accountability plans reviewed and approved. Approved state accountability plans should be posted on your state education agency’s site. Reviewing these accountability plans will help understand the state’s requirements for your children’s schools.

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School Choice

This term has come up a lot lately thanks to the Trump administration’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. School choice is essentially the right of parents to choose which school their child goes to using government-issued funds. The goal is to give parents a greater choice in deciding where their children go for their education. These government-issued funds can take the form of tax deductions or tax credits or vouchers to pay for school choices. It is up to each state to determine how to use these funds and how much to give to each student. Check to see what form of school choice your state chooses.

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Benchmark Assessments

You may hear from your child or your child’s teacher about benchmark assessments being administered either at the beginning of the year or at various points throughout the year. These tests help determine where students are academically and how they are progressing throughout the year. Beginning-of-the-year assessments are usually not for a grade; they are merely given to assess what a student knows. They help teachers know how to teach the material in a way that meets students where they are. Knowing this, you can talk to your child’s teacher about your child’s performance and how he or she is progressing throughout the year based on these assessments.

Interested in Learning More? Check out these Resources

CTE: Career Technical Education

Formerly known as vocational education, these classes help students with career readiness by teaching skills applicable for the workforce. These courses are not necessarily options for low-performing students, and they can also improve graduation rates in some cases. These types of classes are getting more of a focus lately is because of the recent bill passed in Congress that allots more decision-making and funding authority to states on offering CTE courses. The hope is to address a skills gap in the current workforce by promoting CTE classes in high schools and community colleges. Ask your child if he or she is interested in any CTE courses that are available in his or her high school, and begin the conversation about career readiness.

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Elaine Ho
Elaine Ho studied Political Science and Education at the University of California, Berkeley and previously served in Americorps teaching and mentoring high school students. She is interested in connecting parents with the resources and information they need to help their children succeed. She also curates a free weekly newsletter called Beyond the Classroom, which collects the top need-to-know education news for parents.