California Department of Education
Taking Center Stage – Act II


academic enrichment center An academic enrichment center is usually an after-hours academic program serving students with a broad spectrum of interests and abilities. It serves as an extension of the regular school program.
academic excellence The term “academic excellence” is one of the four criteria developed by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform to indicate high performance middle grades practices. It is used in the Schools to Watch program to indicate school programs that (1) hold high expectations for all students; (2) align instruction and curriculum to state standards; (3) provide depth and real-world, connected learning; (4) provide a variety of challenging and engaging learning activities; (5) employ a variety of assessments; (6) provide time and flexible scheduling to ensure mastery; (7) provide supports for students; and (8) conduct regular professional development based on student learning needs.
academic literacy Academic literacy is an advanced level of literacy that enables students to learn in depth the more complex knowledge and skills embedded in and defined by grade-level content standards.
Academic Performance Index The Academic Performance Index (API) is the cornerstone of California’s Public Schools Accountability Act of 1999. The purpose of the API is to measure the academic performance and growth of schools. It is a numeric index (or scale) that ranges from a low of 200 to a high of 1000. A school’s score on the API is an indicator of a school’s performance level, based on the percentage of students scoring at a given performance level on statewide testing. APIs are included as an element of California’s accountability requirements under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001.
Academic Program Survey The Academic Program Survey (APS) is a tool designed to help a school determine how well it is implementing the nine Essential Program Components considered crucial to an effective academic program.
acceptable-use policy As defined in the California Department of Education’s Education Technology Planning Guide, an acceptable-use policy is a policy that contains provisions for students’ use of the Internet and network in a school district and is written as a contract between the parent and the school.
accountability The Public School Accountability Act (PSAA) authorized the creation of an educational accountability system for California public schools. Its primary goal is to help schools improve and to measure the academic achievement of all students.
accountability progress reporting Accountability progress reporting (APR) is California's integrated accountability system that reports on results from the state Academic Performance Index (API), the federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) program, and Program Improvement (PI).
achievement gap The achievement gap refers to the observed disparity on a number of educational measures between the performance of groups of students, especially groups defined by language fluency, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.
active learning Active learning refers to learning that occurs through instructional strategies that engage students intellectually and physically as they pursue given classroom assignments. Active learning is the opposite of passive learning, in which one-way communication from teachers to students is the norm. Active learning involves substantive changes in the ways students and teachers work together, shifting the focus of classroom instruction from teaching to learning. In such classrooms, students are engaged in learning activities such as gathering data, defining issues, stating problems, generating and testing hypotheses, drawing conclusions, and reporting and defending their work. The aim is to create independent learners. Active learning is directly responsive to the developmental characteristics associated with early adolescence.
Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) Adequate yearly progress (AYP) refers to a nationwide accountability system mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Under No Child Left Behind, adequate yearly progress (AYP) refers to the annual progress each school and each subgroup within the school must make toward grade-level proficiency. Student proficiency in English-language arts and mathematics must increase each year, reaching 100 percent proficiency in the 2013-14 school year.
adolescent characteristics Throughout TCSII, the phrase “adolescent characteristics” refers to descriptions of typical behaviors, attitudes, and physical attributes of young adolescents from age 10 until 14.
adolescent development In both TCSII and in middle grades philosophy, the phrase “adolescent development” refers to the typical process of maturation that occurs from ages 10 to 14. It includes social, emotional, physical, and cognitive changes that typically occur during this age span.
adoptions/state-adopted instructional materials The State Board of Education adopts criteria for instructional materials to ensure that the materials align with state content standards and frameworks. Publishers submit their materials to the SBE for adoption (confirmation that they meet the standards.) School districts may then use their funds to purchase state-adopted instructional materials. The California Department of Education Web site lists both adopted and rejected instructional materials lists.
adults as mentors Middle-grades students benefit from close, personal connections with adults who can serve as mentors and guides. At some schools, each adult staff member is assigned a group of students with whom to develop special connections. At other schools, mentoring is less formal. The key element of a mentoring program is the availability of caring adults who are willing to listen and share.
advisory program The term “advisory program” typically refers to a special type of group guidance experience in which students meet together in small groups with the same teacher or counselor over an extended period, often for two or more years. (See also “teacher-based adviser/advisee program.”)
align/alignment See “curriculum alignment .”
alternative education Alternative education — also know as “Educational Options” — refers to school and program alternatives that provide students with the environment, curriculum, and support systems needed to ensure that they achieve their full academic potential.
analytic scoring Analytic scoring is evaluation of student work across several dimensions of performance rather than on the overall quality of student work. In analytic scoring, the crucial elements of response are identified and scored separately. For example, analytic scoring of a historical essay might include scores of the following dimensions: use of prior knowledge, application of principles, use of original source material to support a point of view, accuracy, and composition. An overall impression of quality may be included in analytic scoring. (Also see “holistic scoring .”)
anchor papers Anchor papers are sample essays for each score point on a writing rubric. Raters use the anchor papers as guides to achieve consistent scoring between each rubric point (usually from one to four). (See “exemplar .”)