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21st-Century skills : skills that “students need to succeed in today’s globally and digitally interconnected world.”  Learn more by visiting the Partnership for 21st Century Learning, which provides a framework “based on the essential skills, knowledge and dispositions that children need to succeed as citizens and workers in today’s world, as well as the necessary support systems needed to create learning environments that support that kind of learning.”


ABCs: Attendance, Behavior and Course Performance, critical indicators of student engagement and success

Academic Confidence: Students’ belief in their own ability to learn and succeed in course performance, standards testing, grade promotion, and graduation.

Academy principal : an assistant principal or another person with administrative credentials who is responsible for one academy within a high school.  He or she deals with all issues relevant to that academy, advocates for it, works with the school principal in carrying out assigned duties, and works to integrate the academy theme into all aspects of academy life, including curriculum and instruction.  In small high schools where there is just one academy theme, there may be no need for someone to be designated an academy principal.

Advisory: a class designed to provide academic and/or social supports to students (McClure et al., 2010). An advisory often consists of a small group of students and one advisor who meet at least weekly. Teachers and others advisory leaders may use the time for discussions with students, or may follow commercial or custom-made curriculum.

Advisory board: a board comprised of 10 to 15 members representing a wide variety of city-level and regional partners, including educational and community leaders, philanthropic leaders, and parent and/or student representatives, who support TDS in establishing a strong and sustained presence within a city/region and in improving the program’s impact in its partner schools.  An advisory board meets regularly to provide guidance and support to the TDS executive director, while maintaining a non-fiduciary and non-supervisory role.  Each member of the advisory board serves as an active member of at least one of the following committees: the executive committee, the resource development committee, the communications committee, or the program committee.

ALFA Lab: Accelerated Literacy for Adolescents, TDS’ extra-help lab for high school students who are four or more years behind grade level in literacy

Analyze gaps: To analyze the difference between what a student has learned and what the student was expected to learn at a certain point in his or her education. (Adapted from The Glossary of Education Reform,

Anchors: Examples of student performance that characterize each of the levels on a performance scale or rubric.

Apprenticeship: a post-secondary experience of paid on-the- job-training supplemented by related classroom instruction, designed to prepare a person, usually a high school graduate, for a career. Apprenticeship training usually requires one to five years to complete, depending on the occupation.

Assessment item analysis: A process in which student responses to individual test items (questions) are examined to assess the quality of those items and of the test as a whole. Item analysis is especially valuable in improving items which will be used again in later tests, but can also be used to eliminate ambiguous or misleading items in a single test administration. In addition, item analysis is valuable for increasing instructors’ skills in test construction, and identifying specific areas of course content which need greater emphasis or clarity. (From University of Washington, )

Automaticity: The ability to perform a task virtually without thinking, using a non-conscious control process.


BERC: Baltimore Education Research Consortium, another program of the Center for Social Organization of Schools

Brain-based learning: “the engagement of strategies [for learning] based on body/mind/brain research” (Jensen)

Brain-based teaching: “the application of a meaningful group of principles that represent our understanding of how our brain works in the context of education” (Jensen)

Brain-Targeted Teaching model: “a cohesive structure for interpreting research findings from the neuro- and cognitive sciences and applying them to [teachers’] own practices” (Hardiman, 2012).  All TDS instructional facilitators have been trained in brain-targeted teaching.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): the principal fact-finding agency for the federal government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics. This is a valuable site for information on current and projected employment opportunities.


Calibration: The act of aligning one’s judgment of what one does and does not know with objective feedback, so as to avoid the illusion of mastery and corresponding disillusionment when tested.

Career academy: in TDS, a school-within-a-school in which students and teachers focus on the application of core knowledge and skills to a specific theme, often related to a business or industry.  Examples include environmental sciences, health, arts and humanities, and business and technology.  Academy themes are determined based on student interest, faculty talent and interest, business- or industry-specific partnership opportunities, and local, regional, and national employment trends.  Academy themes can be divided further into pathways.

In each academy, teachers from different subjects work together with an administrator and counselor dedicated to that academy. Academy students may participate in required, elective, and AP courses outside the academy, as well as other activities such as clubs and sports.

Career Academy National Standards of Practice (NSOP): The National Standards of Practice for career academies were developed by an informal consortium of organizations that actively support career academies, including TDS. The standards include ten key elements of successful implementation.

Career and college readiness: Preparedness and skills to be able to enter into the world of work and to qualify for and succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing college courses, without remedial coursework, at two- and four-year postsecondary institutions or training programs leading to a credential (i.e. a certificate, license, Associate’s, or Bachelor’s degree).  Students who are college and career ready have the skills to embark on any of these paths and awareness to choose an appropriate one.

Career council: a group of volunteers, primarily industry, postsecondary, education, government, and community representatives, who work with one or more partner schools with a given academy theme, participate in career education and academic activities, and make connections to local businesses.  A career council, which may also include parent and student representatives, meets regularly to provide advice and support to an academy or pathway.  In schools with several academies, each academy should have a career council.  In schools that have career pathways only (no academies), one council for the entire school may include members representing each pathway.  Career councils build the foundations for strong and lasting partnerships.

Career pathway: See pathway.

Career-ready: (of high school graduates) having the knowledge and skills needed to qualify for and succeed in the postsecondary job training and/or education necessary for one’s chosen career.

Career Technical Education (CTE) course sequence: a multiyear sequence of courses emphasizing technical skills and work-based knowledge while integrating the academic skills and knowledge necessary to prepare students for the workplace and/or post-secondary education in an industry sector. The sequence typically includes beginning, intermediate, and capstone courses, as well as work-based learning (WBL) experiences. (“Glossary of Terms Related to College and Career Academies, Linked Learning Pathways, Small Learning Communities and High School,” College and Career Academy Support Network)

CATAMA lab: TDS’ extra-help math labs for middle and high school students two or more years below grade level (originally Computer- and Teacher-Assisted Math Acceleration lab)

CCSS: see Common Core State Standards

CIS: see Communities In Schools

City Year: a partner in the Diplomas Now collaboration that provides cohorts of young adult near-peer mentors (corps members) to support and encourage all students in a school but particularly those identified as being at risk of disengagement or dropping out

Chunking: Grouping items in an organized way to facilitate memorization.

Coaching cycle: A three-stage cycle for helping teachers critically think about their classroom practices make instructional changes to improve student learning and achievement. The cycle includes three essential processes (planning, implementing, and debriefing), and is continually reiterated to provide ongoing support at increasingly sophisticated levels of practice.

College and Career Academy Support Network (CCASN): “The College & Career Academy Support Network (CCASN, previously called CASN), was founded in 1998 in the Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley by a group of practitioners and researchers interested in career academies and their potential for improving high school education…the group has supported development and improvement of career academies, while assembling information and resources to help schools and districts plan, implement, or enhance academies. This work resulted in a series of guides now available on the CCASN website, along with other tools, templates, a curriculum database, videos, and more.”

College-ready: prepared to qualify for and succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing college courses, without remedial coursework, at two- and four-year postsecondary institutions or training programs leading to a credential (i.e. a certificate, license, Associate’s, or Bachelor’s degree)

Communications committee: a subcommittee of an advisory board whose members are connected to the education and funding venues and individuals within their city and are able to help TDS shape its message and share information and school highlights with a wide-ranging group of individuals

Communities In Schools: a partner in the Diplomas Now collaboration, linking students with the greatest academic, behavioral-emotional,  or socio-economic needs to community-based resources

Community partnerships: Partnerships between schools or school improvement providers and family and community resources. These play a major role in the college and career awareness and preparation, as well as in creating learning experiences tied to a student’s career interests. Partnerships with non-profit organizations or local businesses may also provide a second shift of adults to mentor the most at-risk students via group or individualized interventions and/or to offer tutoring assistance.

Common Core State Standards (CCSS): “a set of clear college- and career-ready standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts/literacy and mathematics”

Cooperative learning: Active, engaged learning within small student teams, for example, to construct meaning from a variety of texts, to explore different approaches to a math problem, to apply learned information to a new situation, or to synthesize aspects of a topic for better understanding. Cooperative learning activities are provided in all TDS courses, and teachers are taught how to team students effectively in initial TDS course trainings.

CPRW: College Prep Reading and Writing, TDS’ 11th-grade ELA course

Credit and course recovery: Strategies that enable students who have failed courses or who are not on track to graduate to make up courses and fill credit gaps, including Saturday school, summer school, and after-school tutoring sessions, as well more drastic remedies such as Twilight School or Twilight Academy for students who, for various reasons, cannot attend during the regular school day.

CRESPAR: the Center for Research on Students Placed at Risk (1994-2004)

CSOSCenter for Social Organization of Schools, the “parent” center in which TDS is housed

Cultural competence: A teacher’s ability to situate academic knowledge and skills in relations to students’ life experiences and frames of reference.

Cultural congruence: A teacher’s respect for students’ cultural background, including cultural traditions, language, and socioeconomic background; awareness of how these factors influence school performance; and sense of his/her own ethnic and cultural identity and possible cultural biases.

Culture of success: A nurturing school environment that fosters student success, both academic and behavioral, through initiatives that build school identity and enthusiasm for learning, celebrate and encourage positive behaviors and attitudes, and support students whose attendance, behavior, or achievement indicates a need for improvement.

Culturally responsive: Relating teaching and learning to the cultural backgrounds of students.

CY: see City Year


Decentralized/Distributed leadership: (also sometimes called shared, democratic, team, dispersed, participatory, broad-based or inclusive leadership) “the practice of governing a school by expanding the number of people involved in making important decisions related to the school’s organization, operation, and academics” (Great Schools Partnership). In Talent Development Secondary’s approach to decentralization of leadership, there is one Central Administration Principal, and each academy, including a Ninth Grade Academy, has its own principal and dedicated staff.

Discussion protocols: Sets of guidelines to structure discussions (whole class, small group, or paired) that help participants remain focused on goals, build communication skills, encourage active and respectful listening, nurture trust and collegiality, and provide “safe space” to share thoughts and ideas. (Adapted from The Glossary of Education Reform, )

Diverse learner: A student whose life experiences, background, and aptitudes create specific challenges for learning and school performance. Learner differences that schools and teachers can consider and seek to support include social resource access, family relationships, neighborhood, age, race, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental abilities, linguistic identity and experience, life experiences, and values.

DN: Diplomas Now, the collaboration of TDS, City Year, and Communities In Schools to provide students in high-poverty schools with the tiered and targeted academic and social-emotional supports they need to stay on track to graduate college- or career-ready

DNIST: Diplomas Now Implementation and Support Team

DNSI: the Diplomas Now Summer Institute, held every year in July

DM: division manager; e.g., math, English language arts, or school & student support services (S4)

Double-dose English and math: Research-based, structured curricula to increase reading and math learning for students who need additional support in grades 6-11. At the middle school level, double-dose ELA or math elective courses take the form of extra-help labs, in which students enroll concurrently with required core courses. In high schools, students build core academic skills in blocked acceleration courses during the first semester before taking required core courses in the second semester.

Dual enrollment: A plan in which students are enrolled in two separate institutions. Typically, high school students enroll in college courses, either on the high school or college campus, for which they may earn college credit as well as credit toward their high school diplomas.


EBR: East Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Early Warning Indicators (EWIs): factors indicating possible student disengagement and eventual drop-out: Attendance, Behavior, and Course passing (the ABCs)

Early Warning Indicator System (EWIS): See Early Warning System.

Early Warning System (EWS): A coordination of student data systems to identify students likely to disengage with school and link them to tiered student response systems.  Built on the findings of the importance of keeping students on-track in Attendance, Behavior, and Course performance, an EWS helps school staff organize information and respond in supportive and efficient ways.

EGC: Everyone Graduates Center, another program of the Center for Social Organization of Schools

ELA: English language arts

Elaboration: The process of giving new material meaning by stating it in one’s own words and connecting it with prior knowledge. The more one can explain about the way new learning relates to prior knowledge, the stronger one’s grasp of the new learning will be, and the more connections will be created to aid in subsequent retrieval. (Adapted from Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, Brown, Rodiger, and McDaniel, p. 5)

Emotional and physical climate for learning: Characteristics of the physical learning environment (deliberately planned to provide novelty order, and beauty) and the emotional climate (including a sense of acceptance, safety, and support) that help students develop positive emotional connections within the framework of a specific unit of study. Brain-Targeted Teaching® encourages teachers to deliberately plan the physical learning environment as well as specific activities that foster positive emotional connections.

EWIs: see Early Warning Indicators

EWI&I: Early Warning Indicators and Interventions; see EWI meetings

EWI meetings: interdisciplinary team meetings to identify students at risk of disengaging; plan and coordinate tiered interventions to help them succeed; and closely monitor student progress and the impact of interventions

Evidence-based skills, strategies, and practices: Educational skills, strategies, and practices that show evidence of success, including those based in TDS’ recent research (such as early warning systems to help students stay on track for grade promotion and graduation) as well as those deriving from current educational best practices and relevant other studies, such as cognitive coaching and neuroscience.

Executive committee: a subcommittee of an advisory board that helps the TDS executive director make decisions between Advisory Board meetings and helps keep the committee structure on task.  The executive committee is often comprised of the chairs of the other committees.  These members should be the primary ambassadors for TDS within the community and should be alert for other potential advisory board members who can make important contributions.

Executive director: a TDS staff member who oversees and coordinates a regional instructional team in a location where TDS serves several schools, as well as developing local outreach and resource development

Executive functions: The basic cognitive processes that underlie on-going, goal-directed behaviors and higher-order thinking skills. These basic functions, which are often associated with neural processing in the frontal lobe, include holding information in working memory, initiating as well as inhibiting an action, and shifting perspective or the focus of attention; together allow us to carry out more complex action such as planning future events, organizing processes, self-monitoring, and regulating emotional response. Executive function is especially critical for effective learning as it requires being able to draw novel associations and flexibly use information in different contexts. (Adapted from The Brain-Targeted Teaching Model for 21st Century Schools, Mariale Hardiman, p.  13)

Exemplar: An example that show what top performance looks like for a given requirement.

Externships: experiences in which teachers spend time in a workplace to learn through direct experience about trends, skill requirements and opportunities in industries related to their subjects.  These experiences provide a peer to peer learning environment, strengthen teaching skills, and bring relevance to student learning. Externships range from a day of job shadowing to experiences that are usually project-based and can last as long as a full summer.


FM: field manager, a TDS staff member who oversees and coordinates the work in a specific geographic location where TDS serves two or more schools

Folkways: Ways that a group develops of living, thinking, and acting that are not consciously planned yet have a compelling influence on members of the group

Formative assessment: A range of assessment procedures conducted during the learning process to provide the teacher and students with information about students’ progress toward learning goals in order to improve student achievement. Insights from formative assessments help teachers to adjust the pace and form of instruction and provide special help as needed. Types of formative assessments include checklists, quizzes, activity sheets, journal entries, exit passes, informal presentations, etc.

Freshman Seminar: a course for ninth-grade students that focuses on study, social, and life (non-cognitive) skills needed to successfully meet the academic and social challenges of high school, along with career exploration to help students identify possible career interests and goals and select a career academy for grades ten through twelve
Generation: Any process in which students produce information themselves in response to some kind of prompt. Examples include trying to answer a question, solve a problem, or develop a project rather than being presented with the information or solution.


GF: Geometry Foundations, the TDS first semester 10th-grade math course

Guided practice: A process in which students take responsibility for completing a task or exercising a skill while benefitting from the teacher’s ongoing, explicit guidance and feedback. Guided practice is the step in skill mastery that occurs after teacher modeling and prior to independent practice.


Habits of mind: Ways of thinking and coping when one does not know the answer to challenging problems. Costa and Kallick identify 16 effective habits of mind: persisting; thinking and communicating with clarity and precision; managing impulsivity; gathering data through all senses; listening with understanding and empathy; creating, imagining, and innovating; thinking flexibly; responding with wonderment and awe; thinking about thinking (metacognition); taking responsible risks; striving for accuracy; finding humor; questioning and posing problems; thinking interdependently; applying past knowledge to new situations; and remaining open to continuous learning. (Adapted from The Art Costa Centre for Thinking, )

HBP: the vendor that currently prints and distributes TDS’ curricula and other materials

HOFUS: A History of US, the acclaimed U.S. history books by Joy Hakim, for which TDS has prepared an extensive series of instructional support materials

Holland Code: a system of categorizing career interests and ability levels devised by John Holland, psychologist and Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University.  In the Holland Model, individuals complete Interest Inventories that result in the assignment of a code related to a cluster of career choices. Holland inventories suitable for middle grades students through to adults are available.


I3: Investing In Innovation, a three-year federal grant program that enabled the nationwide expansion of the Diplomas Now program in 2011-2014

IEP: individualized education program, a statement of individual yearly educational goals, supports, and accommodations for a student with special needs

IF: instructional facilitator

Imagery: Mental images, particularly as used in retaining information.

Independent practice: A process in which students attempt to complete a task, exercise a skill, or apply a strategy on their own. Students receive regular feedback from the teacher and other students. Typically, students engage in independent practice after teacher modeling and guided practice have occurred.

Industry certification and credentialing: Certification from a recognized professional body relating to specific work or industry skills. Industry certification is particularly valuable for teachers working in high school career academies and may be acquired through summer internships of training. Examples include certification for Microsoft Office, Project Management Professional (PMP), First Aid and CPR, USA Track & Field, home inspection, HVAC, National Fire Protection Association, plumbing, etc.

Instructional approach: A view or philosophy of instruction, resulting in specific teaching practices.

Integrated curriculum: a series of conscious and informed strategies used to connect the content of two or more academic and CTE courses (or two or more academic courses) so that what is learned in one discipline is combined with and reinforced in the other disciplines over an extended period of time

Interdisciplinary teaming: collaboration among two to five teachers from different subject areas to teach a shared group of students, most commonly a team of math, English, science, and social studies teachers who share 90-150 students. Teachers have common planning time to coordinate and evaluate curriculum and instruction across academic subject areas, as well as discuss and address student needs. The four components of Linked Learning are: rigorous academics, real-world technical skills, work-based learning, and personalized support (see Glossary of Terms, College and Career Academy Support Network).

Interleaving: The process of intentionally ordering learning tasks to that the same task is repeated at intervals. In contrast to blocked structures (aaa, bbb, ccc), interleaved structure involves interspersing practice of different skills or performance of different tasks in varied order (abc, bca, cab).

Internship: paid and unpaid career preparation activities in which youth and young adults are placed in a business for a defined period of time to participate in and observe work firsthand within a given industry. Internships are highly structured, time-limited experiences that occur at a workplace. Unlike work experience, internships often allow for a rotation through a number of departments and job functions.

Intervention and lab courses: Courses designed to help students fill in learning gaps and get back on track academically. Providing appropriate acceleration courses for students who are significantly below grade level can improve student behavior as well as academic standing.

Individualized multi-year plan: a plan that each student completes with the assistance of an advisor, beginning in the ninth grade year in Freshman Seminar, and updates as he or she moves through to graduation, including career interests, possible job shadowing opportunities and internships, and post-secondary options

Interest inventory/survey: in the context of TDS/DN, a questionnaire that helps students determine career fields they might find satisfying.  The Holland Inventory is an example.


Labor market analysis: an examination of the current and future jobs that are available within a city of region.  In addition to formal reports on job statistics, this includes large, medium-sized, and small businesses as well as post-secondary institutions within a city or region.

LEA: local education agency, a frequently-used synonym for a local school district

Learner: Anyone involved in the process of exploring, investigating, and acquiring knowledge, including students, teachers, and other adults. Teacher-planned assessments and lessons usually include goals that address the student as the learner, and may identify specific goals for specific learners (students). Within a PLC or in the context of coaching, teachers may be considered the learners as they seek to broaden professional knowledge and improve instructional practices.

Learning goals: Statements of what students should know or be able to do after completing a unit or segment of study.

Learning sciences: Sciences that provide insights into how people learn, including neuroscience and the cognitive and behavioral sciences. TDS seeks to provide students and teachers with evidence-based practices that are informed by current research in the learning sciences.

Learning targets: Specific, lesson-sized chunks of information, skills, and reasoning processes that guide students’ progress toward broader learning goals. Learning targets written from the students’ point of view are shared with them so that students can use them to guide their own learning. Learning targets can also be short descriptive phrases of students’ knowledge and skills, used in performance scales to help educators set goals and provide a common focus for school leaders’ decisions.

Linked Learning: “an approach to education that [brings] together strong academics, a demanding technical education, and real-world experience to help students gain an advantage in high school, postsecondary education, and careers. Students can choose among industry-themed pathways in fields such as engineering, arts and media, and biomedicine and health.” (ConnectEd California) The components of Linked Learning are: rigorous academics, real-world technical skills, work-based learning, and personalized support.

Long-term memory: Retention of information without active rehearsal for a significant amount of time, for example, years or a life-time.


MDRC: “a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization dedicated to learning what works to improve programs and policies that affect the poor.” MDRC published three important papers in 2004-2006 validating the Talent Development model in middle and high schools, and has been executing a major third-party evaluation of the Diplomas Now program since 2011.

Mentor: a business or community person who offers his or her time without remuneration to talk with and encourage a student. The mentor helps the student achieve educational and career goals and enhances his/her self-confidence and self-awareness.

Mentorship: Individual support provided by a more experienced partner to a less experiences one through coaching, collaborating, or consulting. In the context of TDS instructional facilitation, mentorship occurs from an instructional facilitator to a coach, from a coach to a teacher, or from a more experiences teacher to a less experienced one in the context of the coaching cycle. Typically, a mentor takes a mentee through a process of reflection to help the mentee come up his or her own solutions; additionally, or a mentor might model teaching a lesson while the mentee observes.

Metacognition: Monitoring one’s own thinking and learning; “thinking about thinking.”

Metacognitive learning behaviors: Behaviors in which students take control of their own learning by defining their learning goals and monitoring their progress in achieving them.

Mindfulness: The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.

MMG: Mastering the Middle Grades, TDS’ middle (6th, 7th, and 8th) grades life and study skills curriculum, providing interactive lessons that help students develop both the academic and non-cognitive skills they need to be engaged and successful in the middle grades, and prepare for a successful transition to high school

Mnemonics: Memory techniques and systems used to aid in retention of information.

Modeling: The practice in which teachers perform a skill to show students how it is done. Teacher modeling should include “thinking aloud” so that students understand what they are doing and why they are doing it. Modelling is a critical element in explicit instruction and is infused throughout TDS curricula, in every content area and at every level.

Modifications and accommodations: Adaptations are supports that help students meet grade-level expectations; modifications shift the expectations of a learning target, making it easier or more difficult. (Adapted from Marzano: )

Mores: Unquestioned, assumed, fundamental moral views and values of a group.

MOU: memorandum of understanding, a statement of commitment to a particular collaboration between two parties that is less formal and less binding than a contract. An MOU is sometimes necessary as evidence of the relationship, for example, when seeking outside funding to support a joint project.


National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS): A network of schools, districts, states, and organizations using research-based approaches to create and sustain programs of family and community involvement to increase student success in school. Established at Johns Hopkins University in 1996, NNPS uses a framework for successful partnerships based on six types of involvement: parenting, communicating, volunteering, learning at home, decision making, and collaborating with the community.

Ninth grade academy: a school-within-a-school for high school freshmen that occupies its own space in a school building and is organized in interdisciplinary teams (typically, English, math, science, and social studies teachers).  The goal of the ninth grade academy is to provide a strong introduction to high school and get all ninth grade students to tenth grade on time and on track.


Pathway/pathway course of study: a series of elective courses that focuses on a specific theme.  For example, in an environmental science academy pathway themes might include: water conservation; air pollution; soil conservation; recycling; environmental policy, planning, and management; environmental law; oceanography; meteorology; and many more.  Students enrolled in pathways take a series of electives within these themes.  Some pathway sequences can lead to accreditation or certification.

PBIS: Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports

PD: professional development

Performance criteria: Standards by which student products and performance are evaluated.

Planning year: a year during which Talent Development Secondary teams work with schools to prepare to implement the TDS model.  Planning focuses on completion of labor market analyses, student interest inventories, and faculty surveys to determine a school’s academies and/or pathways.  Plans for deployment of faculty and staff throughout the school and decisions regarding the use of space are also made during a school’s planning year.

Post-secondary educational institutions: educational opportunities available to students upon high school graduation.  These include two- and four-year colleges and trade schools.

PPA: program participation agreement; essentially, a contract between JHU/TDS and a school or school district

Professional learning community (PLC) or Professional learning team (PLT): a group of educators united in their vision and commitment to student learning who work and learn collaboratively, visit and review each other’s classrooms, and make decisions together. Such communities reduce teacher isolation, help teachers be better informed and more committed, and result in students’ academic gains. A professional learning community is a powerful strategy for staff development and school improvement. Typically, PLCs/PLTs focus on data, apply research and best practices, share and reflect on classroom practices, and improve teamwork and collaboration skills.

Program committee: a subcommittee of an advisory board that has the most direct impact on the work that TDS does in the schools in a given city or region.  The committee’s goal is to examine progress at partner schools and identify/broker opportunities for school-to-career connections, including but not limited to, progress report card conferences, guest speakers, industry visits that support/reinforce in-class lessons, industry mentors and unpaid and paid internships both after school and in the summer. Members of this committee are often leaders of TDS career councils that support a school in integrating career themes and providing exposure opportunities for students.

Program of study: a prescribed curriculum sequence which ensures that students complete graduation requirements and an identified curriculum. Programs of study can be three or four years in duration.

Progress report card conference: (previously referred to as report card conference) a structured intervention for students to engage with adults in meaningful discussions about their academic progress

Project-based learning/teaching: a systematic teaching methodology that engages students by focusing on a complex question or problem and having them investigate answers to that problem over an extended period of time, often resulting in presentations and products


RD: regional director

Reflective practices: Activities and discussions in which practitioners develop self-awareness and collective awareness of personal and shared work so as to modify thinking, perceptions, beliefs, and assumptions, in a process of self-directed learning in order to improve proficiency. Reflective practice for teachers occurs in the context of the coaching cycle, through interaction with the coach or instructional facilitator, and in professional learning communities, where reflective dialog is often the catalyst for learning.

RFP: request for proposal, the formal announcement whereby an LEA, state Board of Education, or other entity publicizes an opportunity to submit a proposal to provide specific services

Resource development committee: a subcommittee of an advisory board whose members have a deep understanding of the funding community within a region and how it can be approached and accessed. They should increasingly set the standard and the example for giving by making personal and institutional annual contributions and should be called on to approach other colleagues on the board and community peers for the same.

RTI: Response to Intervention, “a proactive approach to measuring students’ skills and using this data to decide which types of targeted teaching to use”

RWYC: Reading and Writing in Your Career,  TDS’10th-grade ELA course


S4: School and Student Support Services, the TDS instructional division that deals with school climate, classroom management, EWIs, and supporting students at risk

Savvy Readers’ Lab: TDS’ extra-help literacy lab for middle grades students two or more years below grade level

Schema: A basic unit by which knowledge is structured, organized, and incorporated into a “big picture” understanding of the world; a framework used to make sense out of otherwise isolated ideas and facts.

School-within-a-school: a ninth-grade or career academy embedded in a high school

Self-quizzing/testing: The practice retrieval of learning from memory. Self-quizzing is an important practice to verify what one really knows as compared to what one thinks one knows.

Short-term memory: The temporary storage of information just received for up to about 20 seconds; this time span can be increased through active mental rehearsal.

SIG: School Improvement Grant, a federal grant for schools performing in the bottom 5% of their state’s achievement rankings; each state has its own policies and guidelines for administrating SIGs

Smaller learning community (SLC): “An environment in which a core group of teachers and other adults within the school know the needs, interests, and aspirations of each student well, closely monitors each student’s progress, and provides the academic and other support each student needs to succeed” (U.S. Dept. of Education). In TDS, SLCs include middle grades “vertical houses” as well as ninth-grade and career academies in high schools.

SOE: School of Education, the division of Johns Hopkins University of which CSOS and thus TDS are a part

Spacing: The introduction of delays between learning events. It is important for teachers to revisit previously taught content after a significant delay and have students verify what they have retained.

SR: Strategic Reading,  TDS’ 9th-grade ELA course

STF: school transformation facilitator, the onsite linchpin of the TDS and Diplomas Now models, providing support to school administrators in scheduling and teaming, training teachers and staff to use EWI and other data, and coordinating TDS technical assistance and professional development in the school

STLit: see Student Team Literature

STP: school transformation plan, a detailed tool for identifying school needs and determining steps to achieve desired school improvement goals

Student agency: Students’ ability and/or power to act in their own best interest, particularly in relation to learning and academic outcomes.

Student need analysis: The process of assessing students’ needs in relation to learning goals: what they know already, what they want to know, and what interests them.

Student portfolio: A purposeful collection of student work that tells the student’s story of growth, achievement, and competency over a significant period of time; documents and celebrates projects accomplished; and captures the depth of student learning. Unlike a “snapshot” assessment taken at a single point in time, a portfolio functions more like a photo album containing a variety of photos taken at different times and in a variety of context, making it particularly well suited to highlighting growth and improvement.

Student Team Literature: TDS’ whole-school ELA program for middle grades students

Summative assessment: An assessment activity that takes place at or near the end of a unit of study, a quarter, or a semester to verify student attainment of learning goals. Teacher-constructed summative assessments include tests, exams, projects, and formal presentations and writing assignments; they are evaluative in nature and often figure in the grading process. Other types of summative assessments include state assessments, district benchmark assessments, and standardized texts.


TA: technical assistance

TAM: Transition to Advanced Mathematics,  TDS’ 9th-grade math course

TDS: Talent Development Secondary

Teacher teams: In the context of TDS schools, interdisciplinary teams of teachers who share the same small group of students. In middle grades and ninth grade, teams generally share students within one grade level; in high school, teams are often organized within 10th through 12th grade career academies and pathways. Teacher teams often set shared norms, meet together in Early Warning Indicator meetings, and develop team plans related to behavior, and course performance, as well as planning shared themes and interdisciplinary units. Teachers in TDS schools also participate in content area teams, in which they work on vertical (course sequence) and horizontal (single course) curriculum alignment, examine student work together, develop common grading policies, participate in peer coaching, and reflect on their practice as a professional learning community.

Teaching and Learning Blueprint: An internal document for TDS staff supporting the work of Pillar Two; an expression of TDS’ approach to whole school transformation through improved teaching and learning, research-based and grounded in the belief that all students can be successful with the right supports. The Blueprint informs TDS’ work in a school whether or not that school is implementing TDS curriculum; the Blueprint’s guidelines in the four domains of assessment, curriculum, instruction, and professional development should inform teaching and learning at all TDS schools.

Three Stages of Career Development Education: a series of steps taken to inform students, from elementary to high school, of possible career fields.  Stage one is career awareness, in which students learn possible career paths, steps needed to prepare for careers, and ways people shape career paths, through activities such as career days, field trips and enrichment programs, completion of interest inventories and assessments, and exploration of job market information. Stage two is career exploration, in which students begin to identify their own specific interests and possible career options through workshops, shadowing experiences, informational interviews with local professionals, and career-related projects.  Stage three is career immersion, in which students participate directly in career-related activities, such as relevant in-depth classwork in a career-related class, after-school clubs and activities, internships, volunteer work, capstone or entrepreneurial projects, and after-school or summer employment. See

Tiered student support system: student support systems offering three levels of prevention/intervention, modeled after the theory of prevention and intervention for public health.  Tier I or whole-school interventions affect all students and aim to keep as many students as possible on track.  Tier II or small-group interventions are designed for students who show some indicators of risk for disengagement and have not responded to Tier I supports.  Tier III or intensive interventions are designed for individual students who have unique needs or require very customized supports.

Twilight school: a program during after-school hours a more flexible academic environment that offers credit bearing courses; appropriate for students who need additional credits or an alternative high school setting


Unanet: a tool used by JHU to track individual employees’ hours served on various projects through various funding sources


Wall-to-wall academy: an entire school organized around various career academies or pathways (with the exception of ninth graders, who have their own dedicated academy)

Work-based learning (WBL): an educational approach that intentionally links learning in the workplace to classroom learning, to engage students more fully and promote exposure and access to future educational and career opportunities. WBL includes all interactions with employers, from career exploration discussions in the classroom to field trips, mentoring, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experiences (Linked Learning Glossary).

Working memory: A complex cognitive system, through which information is held in conscious awareness in order to perform computations or use or manipulate that information in some way. (Adapted from The Brain-Targeted Teaching Model for 21st Century Schools, Mariale Hardiman, p. 98)