Education Acronyms

In education, as in most specialized professions, educators use terms that may be unfamiliar to the public. It’s not surprising that parents and others new to public schools often feel confused. This list of the more commonly used acronyms or abbreviations and their meanings has been developed to assist everyone in public schools communicate more effectively.

Tab/Accordion Items

American College Test. An assessment taken by students as a precursor to college/university admission.

Average Daily Membership. The number of days a student is in membership at a school divided by the number of days in a school month or school year.

Advanced Placement. A program that enables high school students to complete college-level courses for college placement and/or credit.

Beginning of Grade 3. Test taken in English language arts/reading by third grade students starting on the 11th day of the school year and continuing through the 15th day.

Comprehensive Exceptional Children Accountability System. A secure web-based student information system for exceptional children that supports online case management, compliance monitoring, data analysis, and federal and state reporting requirements.

Common Education Data Analysis & Reporting System. CEDARS is North Carolina's PreK-13 State Longitudinal Data System. CEDARS enables state, local and federal policymakers and service providers to make data-driven decisions based on analysis of trends and relationships between various educational factors and student performance over time.

Career and Technical Education. CTE provides high school students the opportunity to take courses in eight program areas so that they can explore interests and careers while building and strengthening their career-specific knowledge and skills. The eight education program areas are: Agricultural; Business, Finance and Information Technology; Career Development; Family and Consumer Sciences; Health Science; Marketing and Entrepreneurship; Technology Engineering and Design; and Trade and Industrial.

Exceptional Children Accountability Tracking System. A secure web-based student information system for exceptional children that supports online case management, compliance monitoring, data analysis, and federal and state reporting requirements.

The Every Child Accountability and Tracking system MTSS module, a secure web-based solution offered by Public Consulting Group (PCG) that provides North Carolina LEAs and charters with a PK-13 integrated solution for MTSS Planning and Implementation. The ECATS MTSS Module provides an early warning system for identifying students at risk, captures all general education interventions and facilitates the analysis of that data/reporting to make efficient and effective decisions.

Educational Directory & Demographical Information Exchange. EDDIE is the authoritative source for North Carolina public school information including LEA numbers, school numbers, administrative contacts, school types, grade levels, calendar types, program types and addresses. Information contained in EDDIE is populated by local districts and feeds multiple NCDPI systems including Accountability, PowerSchool, and NC School Report Cards, and is used to meet federal reporting requirements. EDDIE replaced the School, Name and Address (SNA) file in April 2010.

An individual whose native language is a language other than English or who comes from an environment where a language other than English has had a significant impact on the individual's level of English language proficiency and who requires a specialized language support program to participate fully in the curriculum and state-wide assessment program.

English Language Arts. Part of the Common Core curriculum in the NC Standard Course of Study, ELA refers to reading, literature, reading, writing and speaking and listening.

End-of-Course tests designed to access the competencies defined by the Standard Course of Study for three mandated courses: NC Math I, English II and Biology. Tests are taken during the last two weeks of school for students on a traditional calendar and the last week of the course for students on a block schedule.

End-of-Grade tests in English language arts/reading and mathematics (grades 3-8) and science (grades 5 and 8) that are taken by students during the last ten days of the school year.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act. This is the principal federal law affecting K-12 education with its longstanding commitment to equal opportunity for all students. The ESEA of 1965 was later amended and reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. In December of 2015, the ESEA was again amended and reauthorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

English as a Second Language. A program model that delivers specialized instruction to students who are learning English as a new language.

Every Student Succeeds Act. This is the name of the latest reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. See ESEA above. The ESSA was signed into law in 2015 and requires each state to create a plan to meet the components of the law.

Education Value Added Assessment System. SAS® EVAAS™ for K-12 is a customized software system available to all NC school districts that provides diagnostic reports quickly to district and school staff. EVAAS tools provide a precise measurement of student progress over time and a reliable diagnosis of opportunities for growth that help to identify which students are at risk for under-achievement. By viewing easy-to-understand charts and graphs accessed via the Web, users can produce reports that predict student success, show the effects of instruction at particular schools, or reveal patterns in subgroup performance.

Free and Reduced Priced Lunch. Children qualify, based upon parent or guardian financial status, to receive either free or reduced priced lunch through a federal governmental program.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This federal law, reauthorized in 2004, is designed to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free and appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living.

Individualized Education Program. The IEP is a written statement for a student with a disability that is developed, at least annually, by a team of professionals knowledgeable about the student and the parent. The plan describes the strengths of the child and the concerns of the parents for enhancing the education of their child, and when, where, and how often services will be provided. The IEP is required by federal law for all exceptional children and must include specific information about how the student will be served and what goals he or she should be meeting.

Institute of Higher Education. A college or university offering education beyond grade 12.

Instructional Improvement System. The IIS provides portals for students, teachers, parents, and school and district administrators to access data and resources to inform decision-making related to instruction, assessment and students’ career and college goals.

Local Education Agency. Synonymous with a local school system or a local school district, indicating that a public board of education or other public authority maintains administrative control of the public schools in a city or county.

Limited English Proficient. In the ESEA, as amended by the ESSA, the term, 'English learner' replaces the term 'Limited English Proficient' used in section 9101 of the ESEA, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

Learning Management System. A software application that is used to administer, document, track, report and deliver educational courses or training programs.

Learner Object Repository. A storage site for digital content or "digital library." An LOR lets educators share, manage and use educational resources.

Math Course Rigor. MCR is the percent of students who take and pass the NC Math 3 course prior to graduation. It is a part of the school accountability model.

Monitored former English Learners. Students who have exited English Learner (EL) status, but remain in the EL subgroup for four years after the year they exit EL status. MFELs are monitored at the school level to ensure continued adequate English proficiency.

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support. NC MTSS is a school improvement framework that encompasses academic, behavioral, social, and emotional instruction and support. NC MTSS employs a systems approach using data-driven problem-solving to maximize growth for all.

National Assessment of Educational Progress. Also known as the “Nation’s Report Card,” NAEP assesses the educational achievement of elementary and secondary students in various subject areas. It provides data for comparing the performance of students in North Carolina to that of their peers nationwide.

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. The NCDPI is led by the State Superintendent and administers the policies adopted by the State Board of Education. It offers instructional, financial, technological and personnel support to all public school systems in the state.

The North Carolina Educator Evaluation System. A system used to evaluate the performance of all teachers, principals, assistant principals, instructional central office administrators and superintendents to promote effective leadership, quality teaching and student learning while enhancing professional practice that leads to improved instruction.

The North Carolina EXTEND1 is an alternate assessment designed to measure the performance of students with significant cognitive disabilities using alternate achievement standards.

The North Carolina Final Exams. NCFEs are considered standardized artifacts reflective of student growth for participants in the teacher evaluation process.

Open Educational Resources. Teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.

Online Learning Exchange. The exchange resides, as the title suggests, online to connect teachers to libraries of subject-specific media assets, editable content, and user-generated materials.

Positive Behavior Intervention and Support. Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is an evidence-based, tiered framework for supporting students' behavioral, academic, social, emotional, and mental health.Positive Behavior Intervention and Support programs are a way to impact school learning environments by establishing and reinforcing clear behavioral expectations to support high student performance and to reduce behavioral problems. PBIS site schools work to integrate their Safe Schools Plans, character education efforts and strategies, and discipline efforts to make the schools caring and safe communities for learning. 

Professional Development. The term refers to skills and knowledge attained for both personal development and career advancement such as continuous courses, workshops, activities and learning objectives aimed at helping professional educators and staff members improve their skills in their fields.

Professional Learning Communities. PLCs are defined by collaborative inquiry, shared decision-making and joint planning of instruction among teachers. Teachers are provided structured time to work together in planning instruction, observing each other's classrooms, and sharing feedback.

Pre-Scholastic Assessment Test. Normally taken by high school juniors as a practice test for the SAT. Some schools use the PSAT as a diagnostic tool to identify areas where students may need additional assistance or placement in more rigorous courses.

The READY initiative, which is being implemented in public schools in the 2012-13 school year, focuses not only on student proficiency in foundational subjects but on ensuring students are career and college ready when they graduate high school. The initiative is characterized by a new Standard Course of Study, assessments and accountability model.

Regional Education Service Alliance. These regional alliances (sometimes called consortium) provide staff development, leadership development, technical assistance and help in spreading information related to state initiatives to member public school systems in each of the state's nine geographic regions: Northeast, Southeast, Central Carolina, Sandhills, Piedmont-Triad, Southwest, Northwest, Western and Roanoke River Valley.

Read to Achieve. NC state law to ensure every student reads at or above grade level by the end of third grade and progresses in reading proficiency so that he or she can read, comprehend, integrate, and apply complex texts needed for secondary education and career success.

Race to the Top. RttT was a federal grant program that supported the efforts of the NCDPI, local school districts and many charter schools to carry out the state’s Career & College: Ready, Set, Go! initiative. This bold education reform effort focused on college- and career-ready standards and assessments, data systems, great teachers and leaders, and school turnarounds. North Carolina was one of 12 recipients of RttT grant awards. Approximately half of the $400 million in RttT funding was distributed to districts for their own initiatives that support North Carolina’s Race to the Top plan through 2014.

The SAT is often taken by high school juniors and seniors as a precursor to college/university admission. It assesses a student’s verbal, mathematical and writing skills.

State Board of Education. The State Board of Education is charged with supervising and administering “the free public school system and the educational funds provided for its support.” The Board consists of the Lieutenant Governor, the Treasurer, and eleven members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the General Assembly in Joint Session.

(North Carolina) Standard Course of Study. The SCOS is the guiding document outlining what should be taught in North Carolina public school classrooms.

State Education Agency. Federal term for each state education department. SEA is another name for the NCDPI.

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is an integral part of education and human development. SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions. (CASEL, 2020)

School Improvement Plan. A plan that includes strategies for improving student performance, how and when improvements will be implemented, use of state funds, requests for waivers, etc. Plans are in effect for no more than three years.

Student Information System. SIS is a software application educational institutions use to manage student data such as enrollment. Sometimes called a student information management system (SIMS).

[North Carolina] Student Learning Conditions [Survey]. This survey provides middle and high school students with the opportunity to express their perceptions regarding the learning environment in their schools. Similar to the NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey, student responses will be utilized for school and district improvement efforts.

School Performance Grades. School Performance Grades are awarded to schools as defined by G.S.§115C-83.15. A-F letter grades are calculated using achievement, growth, and performance measures.

Single sign-on. This term refers to users logging into several technology tools using one sign-on name and password.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. STEM curriculum emphasizes connections within and between the fields of mathematics and science; integrates technology; introduces and engages students in the engineering design process; cultivates creativity; and develops skills that drive innovation.

Transportation Information Management System. The computer system used by North Carolina school districts for routing and scheduling school buses to ensure safe and efficient bus routes.

Team Initiated Problem Solving is a model created out of the University of Oregon and University of NC at Charlotte for using data for problem solving and decision making that includes a systematic team process generalize-able across data sets.

Title I
Title I is the largest federal education funding program for schools. Its aim is to help students who are behind academically or at risk of falling behind. School funding is based on the number of low-income children, generally those eligible for the free and reduced price lunch program. Title I used to be known as Chapter I.

Title III
Title III is the section of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that provides funding and addresses English language acquisition and standards and accountability requirements for English learners.

Title IX
Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 bans sex discrimination in schools receiving federal funds, whether it is in academics or athletics.

[North Carolina] Teacher Working Conditions [Survey]. A biennial survey of all North Carolina public schools’ licensed staff, the TWC survey provides educators with an opportunity to express their perceptions about working conditions at their schools. Information gathered from the survey is shared with school staff, district administrators, parents and the community for school improvement planning purposes. Survey results are available online at In addition, the new evaluation instruments for superintendents, principals and teachers use TWC responses to reflect on the presence of working conditions in the school.

United States Education Department. The USED provides federal assistance to state and local agencies primarily responsible for education and works to ensure both equal access (e.g., disadvantaged, disabled, at-risk students) and educational excellence. The department engages in four major types of activities: establishes policies related to federal education funds, administers distribution of funds and monitors their use; collects data and oversees research on America’s schools; identifies major issues in education and focuses national attention on them; and enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination in programs that receive federal funds (USED website).

The WIDA Consortium is an educational consortium of state departments of education that supports academic language development for students who are English Learners. The WIDA suite of assessments are what North Carolina uses to assess and monitor English language proficiency.