In education, as in most specialized professions, educators use terms that may be unfamiliar.  This list of the more commonly used terms and their meanings has been developed to help everyone involved in public schools communicate better.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #

For a complete list of terms used by Mesa Public Schools, please visit MPS's Acronym and School Terms page.


Acuity - Advanced Learning Based Assessment System Acuity is an advanced learning-based assessment system that helps teachers focus on the strategies that most effectively impact student achievement. Acuity provides the combination of valid and reliable content and flexibility. In addition to high-quality pre-built assessments, teachers or administrators can create customized tests with Acuity's state correlated online item bank. Acuity has three Predictive Benchmarks per grade for Math/Reading/Language Art. This gives teachers an idea of how their students will perform on AIMS and what areas students need remediation in. Acuity also provides instructional exercises for guided practice

ADE - Arizona Department of Education  Arizona Department of Education (ADE) is an Arizona state agency overseeing public education. It is headquartered at 1535 West Jefferson Street in Downtown Phoenix, Arizona, United States.

AIMS - Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards  It is a standards-based assessment that was developed by Arizona teachers.  It measures students proficiency of the Arizona Academic Content Standards in Writing, Reading, Mathematics and Science.  It is given to students in third through eighth grade, as well as in high school.  It is required for all schools, including private and charter schools, to give this assessment by state and federal law.  For more information, including student study guides, click here.

  • Exceeds - “Exceeds the Standard” denotes superior academic performance on challenging subject matter reflected by the content standards.
  • Meets -  “Meets the Standard” denotes solid academic performance and understanding of the content standards.
  • Approaches - “Approaches the Standard” denotes partial understanding of the skills and knowledge necessary for proficient work at grade level.
  • Falls Far Below -  “Falls Far Below the Standard” denotes insufficient understanding of the prerequisite skills; students who achieve at this level have serious gaps in knowledge and skills and may require remediation.

APE - Adapted Physical Education  APE provides developmentally appropriate physical education programming for special education students that qualify for adapted physical education service. The APE program promotes student achievement so those students have the opportunity to develop, improve and maintain gross motor as well as physical fitness skills. APE also provides the student the opportunity to find success performing lifetime physical activities.

AR - Accelerated Reader Accelerated Reader is a program that ensures reading success for every child by encouraging students to read at a reading level that is appropriate for them. It provides not only time for reading but also the motivation to want to read. The goals of Accelerated Reader are to improve reading skills, to provide an opportunity for all students to read independently, to ensure success for each student as a reader, to build students' self-confidence, and to inspire a love of reading by creating lifelong readers.

AYP - Adequate Yearly Progress All public schools, in Arizona and throughout the country, must measure and report AYP as outlined in the federal No Child Left Behind law.  AYP measures the yearly progress of different groups of students at the school, district, and state levels against yearly targets in reading and mathematics.  Target goals are set for attendance and graduation rates as well.  If a school misses one target, it does not make AYP. 

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Benchmarks A detailed description of a specific level of student achievement expected of students at particular ages, grades, or developmental levels; academic goals set for each grade level.


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Content standards Standards that describe what students should know and be able to do in core academic subjects at each grade level.

Curriculum The courses of study offered by a school or district. Arizona has developed a set of standards that are intended to guide curriculum and instruction. The final decisions about school curriculum are the responsibility of the local school board.


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DIBELS - Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills The DIBELS measures assess the 5 Big Ideas in early literacy identified by the National Reading Panel: Phonemic Awareness, Alphabetic Principle, Accuracy and Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension. The DIBELS is a reading fluency assessment tool developed at the University of Oregon. It is used in the district and is approved under the federal Reading First program

Differentiated Instruction  This is also referred to as "individualized" or "customized" instruction. The curriculum offers several different learning experiences within one lesson to meet students' varied needs or learning styles. For example, different teaching methods for students with learning disabilities.

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ECA - Extracurricular Activity Program Arizona law provides a tax credit for contributions to public schools to support extracurricular activities or character education. You can help Mesa students and possibly lower your tax bill by making a donation.The state tax credit is available to all qualifying individual Arizona state taxpayers. You do not need to have a child enrolled in a school to take advantage of this state tax credit. It is always best to consult a tax adviser to see if you qualify for the dollar-for-dollar credit

ELD - English Language Development A program model that delivers specialized instruction to students who are learning English as a new language.  This model replaces the former ESL (English as a Second Language) program.

ELL - English Language Learner A student whose first language is other than English and who needs language assistance to participate fully in the regular curriculum.

ELP - Extended Learning Program Mesa's Extended Learning Program (ELP) is designed to challenge intellectually and academically gifted students. The goal is to extend critical and creative thinking skills and self-direction. The program emphasizes research, effective communication, and collaboration. ELP students practice these skills and learn to integrate ideas across many disciplines.

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FEP - Fluent English Proficient A designation that means that a student is no longer considered as part of the school's English learner population. It refers to students who have learned English as a second Language

Formative Assessment Any form of assessment used by an educator to evaluate students' knowledge and understanding of particular content and then to adjust instructional practices accordingly toward improving student achievement in that area.

Free/reduced-price meals  A federal program that provides food for students from low-income families at free or reduced prices.

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GUS - Growing Up Successfully The GUS program is an alternative general education program. It is designed for students who exhibit severe behavioral and social difficulties in their relationships with students and staff. The intensity and/or duration of their negative behavior patterns have prevented them from responding adequately to traditional interventions and learning has therefore been seriously disrupted for them and the classroom. Students in kindergarten through 6th grade may be referred to the program. Many of these students have been diagnosed with a behavioral medical diagnosis. It is not a part of Special Education, although students with mild disabilities such as Specific Learning Disabilities and/or Speech/Language Impairments may be considered.

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Highly Qualified Teacher According to NCLB, a teacher who has obtained full state teacher certification or has passed the state teacher licensing examination and holds a license to teach in the state; holds a minimum of a bachelor’s degree; and has demonstrated subject area competence in each of the academic subjects in which the teacher teaches.

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IDEA - 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.

IEP - Indivualized Education Plan 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. 


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K-6 Academic Skills What every student should know and be able to do.


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LEP - Limited English Proficient Students whose first language is one other than English who need language assistance to participate fully in the regular curriculum and the statewide assessment system.

LRC - Library Resource Centers This Web site features information that can help students with generating ideas, guiding investigations, developing the imagination and writing research papers.


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Mainstreaming The practice of placing students with disabilities in regular classrooms; also known as inclusion.

MEA - Mesa Education Association Is a professional association advocating for quality public schools for every child.  Their work includes advocating for better working conditions for teachers, providing professional growth opportunities, and networking and sharing the best teaching practices for the betterment of public schools.

MELP - Mesa Early Learning Program MELP classes serve four-year-old children from qualifying families. Classes are held in fourteen elementary schools and the East Mesa Early Childhood Education Center. These child-centered classes support children's development in preparation for kindergarten.

MOMD - Moderate Mental Disability This term refers to students who have been diagnosed with a Moderate Mental Disability.  It is defined as an intellectual functioning level (as measured by standard tests for intelligence quotient) that is well below average and significant limitations in daily living skills (adaptive functioning).

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NAEP - Native American Education Program The Native American Education Program is open and available to all Native American students of the Mesa Public School District. They work with the education departments of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa and Fort McDowell communities. Their goal is to encourage and provide the necessary tools to help each student reach his/her maximum potential and to help make his/her educational experience positive and rewarding.

NAEP - 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 the Mesa Public School District to that of their peers in the nation.

NCLB - No Child Left Behind NCLB is the 2002 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and represents a sweeping change in the federal government's role in local public education.  NCLB's primary goal is for all public school children to be proficient or above in reading and mathematics by 2013-13. Title I schools that do not meet certain student achievement standards face sanctions under this law. 

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Open Enrollment Arizona is an open-enrollment state. Parents may select a school outside their neighborhood attendance area or their school district. MPS welcomes open enrollment students.

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Primary Language A student's first language or the language spoken at home.

PTO - Parent Teacher Organization  The PTO Board consists of executive officers, the school principal, and three teacher representatives. Committee Chairs lead the various committees. Any parent is encouraged to serve on the Board.

Pull-out Programs Students receive instruction in small groups outside of the classroom

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Reading First - The Reading First program focuses on putting proven methods of early reading instruction in classrooms. Through Reading First, states and districts receive support to apply scientifically based reading research—and the proven instructional and assessment tools consistent with this research—to ensure that all children learn to read well by the end of third grade.

Registration This Web page features information on registration procedures, immunizations and open enrollment.

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SIAC - School Improvement Advisory Council School Improvement Advisory Council is every parent's, employee's and citizen's voice in the management of Whittier Elementary School. The principal, Mr. Starkey, is committed to improving Whittier's performance as measured by state and federal standards, and has empowered SIAC to assist him in this mission. Parents, employees, and citizens are encouraged to attend our meetings and be a part of SIAC.

Special Education - Special instruction provided for students with educational or physical disabilities, tailored to each student's needs and learning style.

Staff Development Days Days set aside in the school calendar for teacher training.

Standardized Test  A test that is in the same format for all who take it. It often relies on multiple-choice questions and the testing conditions—including instructions, time limits, and scoring rubrics—are the same for all students, though sometimes accommodations on time limits and instructions are made for disabled students.


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TAT - Teacher Assistance Team The Teacher Assistance Team addresses the challenge of helping students who are having trouble in school through a positive, success-oriented approach that uses specific assessment and intervention tactics to help remove educational and behavioral stumbling blocks for elementary children in the regular classroom. Additionally, for those students who are in need of enrichment activities, the Teacher Assistance Team functions as a resource to help those teachers support students in need of a more rigorous curriculum. The goal of the Teacher Assistance Team is to build a cooperative interdisciplinary team that works together to help students: increase academic learning, increase appropriate behaviors, increase motivation, and support teachers in instruction.

Title I Title I is the largest federal education funding program for schools.  Its aim is to help students who are behing 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.  Many of the major requirements in the No Child Left Behind federal law are outined in the Title I - Adequate Yearly Progress, teacher and paraprofessional standards, accountability, sanctions for schools designated for improvement, standards and assesements, annual state report cards, professional development and parent involvement.  Title I used to be known as Chapter I. 

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USDOE - United States Department of Education The USDOE was created in 1980 by combining offices from several federal agencies. The USDOE's mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.

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Volunteer Service Mesa Public School's Volunteer Services welcomes parent and community volunteers who are interested in assisting our schools in many ways. Visit the school office and ask how you can help.

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Web Policies and Best Practice Appropriate content and visual consistency of school and department websites are based on policies and best practices determined by Web Services, Educational Technology and Community Relations departments. Architeck is the district's Web content management system.

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504 Plan A 504 Plan refers to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which specifies that no one with a disability can be excluded from participating in federally funded programs or activities, including elementary, secondary or postsecondary schooling. "Disability" in this context refers to a "physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities." This can include physical impairments; illnesses or injuries; communicable diseases; chronic conditions like asthma, allergies and diabetes; and learning problems. A 504 Plan spells out the modifications and accommodations that will be needed for these students to have an opportunity perform at the same level as their peers, and might include such things as wheelchair ramps, blood sugar monitoring, an extra set of textbooks, home instruction, or a tape recorder for taking notes.


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