Glossary of Education Terms

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General Terms



Accountability – Virginia’s accountability system supports teaching and learning by setting rigorous academic standards – known as the Standards of Learning (SOL) – and through annual statewide assessments of student achievement. Results from these tests – which most students take online – are used by the commonwealth to identify schools in need of assistance and to inform parents and the public about the progress of schools through the awarding of annual accreditation ratings.

Accessibility – The design of software, devices and learning materials that enables all learners to fully use content and features. Although it is most generally associated with students with disabilities, the idea can be extended to include the individual learning needs of any student.

Accreditation – A process to evaluate the performance of public schools in accordance with Virginia Board of Education regulations. School accreditation ratings reflect student achievement on Standards of Learning tests and other approved assessments in English, mathematics and science. Ratings are based on the achievement of students on tests taken during the previous academic year or on a three-year average of achievement. More about Accreditation & Accountability

Achievement gap – The difference between the performance of subgroups of students, especially those defined by gender, race/ethnicity, disability and socioeconomic status.

ACT – One of two commonly used tests designed to assess high school students' general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work in four skill areas: English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning.

Adult/continuing education – A program of instruction provided by an adult/continuing education instructional organization for adults and youth beyond the age of compulsory school attendance including basic education and English literacy, English for speakers of other languages, civics education, GED testing services, adult secondary education and Individualized Student Alternative Education Plan (ISAEP) programs. More about Adult Education

Advanced Placement (AP) – College-level courses and assessments published by the College Board. Virginia students may substitute AP examinations for end-of-course Standards of Learning tests in the same subject areas.

Alignment – Effort to ensure that what teachers teach is in accord with what the curriculum says will be taught and what is assessed on official tests.

Alternative education – Instructional programs for students who have: a pending violation of a school board policy, have been expelled or long-term suspended or have been released from a juvenile correctional center and have been identified by the superintendent of the Department of Correctional Education and the program's local division superintendent to be in need of an alternative program. More about Alternative Education

Assessment – Method of measuring the learning and performance of students; examples include achievement tests, minimum competency tests, developmental screening tests, aptitude tests, observation instruments, performance tasks, etc.

At-risk students – Students who have a higher-than-average probability of dropping out or failing school.

Authentic learning – Learning situations where students work on real-world experiences and challenges.

Average daily membership – The K-12 enrollment figure used to distribute state per-pupil funding. Average daily membership is determined by dividing the total aggregate daily membership by the number of days school was in session during the school year.


Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP) – A plan that utilizes positive behavioral interventions and supports to address behaviors that interfere with the learning of students with disabilities or the learning of others or behaviors that require disciplinary action.

Benchmark – A standard for judging performance.

Blended course – A course that combines two modes of instruction, online and face-to-face.

Block scheduling – A way of organizing the school day into blocks of time longer than the traditional 50-minute class period; with the 4X4 block, students take four 90-minute classes each day allowing for completion of an entire course in one semester instead of a full year; with an A/B, or rotating, block, students take six to eight classes for an entire year but classes in each subject meet on alternate days for 90 minutes.

Bullying – Any aggressive and unwanted behavior that is intended to harm, intimidate, or humiliate the victim; involves a real or perceived power imbalance between the aggressor or aggressors and victim; and is repeated over time or causes severe emotional trauma. Bullying includes cyber bullying. Bullying does not include ordinary teasing, horseplay, argument or peer conflict. More about Bullying Prevention


Career and Technical Education (CTE) – A set of learning experiences – both in and out of the classroom – that helps students gain the skills, technical capacity, academic foundation and real-world knowledge they need to prepare for high-skill, high-demand, high-wage careers. More about Career and Technical Education

Career Clusters – Groupings of occupations and industries that are used for organizing curriculum design, career counseling and guidance.

Charter school – A public, nonreligious school that provides free public elementary and/or secondary education to students via a lottery process under a specific charter granted by the local school board. Charter schools are subject to state and federal anti-discrimination laws. Educational programs, pupil performance standards and curriculum must meet or exceed the Standards of Quality. More about Charter Schools

Chronic absenteeism – Defined generally as a student missing 10 percent or more of school over the course of the school year for any reason, including excused and unexcused absences.

Class period – A segment of time in the school day that is approximately one-sixth of the instructional day.

Cohort – A group of students who enter the ninth grade for the first time together with the expectation of graduating within four years. A cohort “on-time” graduation rate is the percentage of students in a cohort who earn a diploma within four years of entering the ninth grade. In Virginia, this rate is known as the Virginia On-Time Graduation Rate. A cohort dropout rate is the percentage of students in the cohort who drop out during the same period.

College Board – A non-profit organization that develops and administers the SAT and other standardized tests and curricula used by K–12 and post-secondary institutions to promote college-readiness and as part of the college admissions process.

Combined school – A public school that contains any combination of K-12 grade levels and is not an elementary (K-5), middle (6-8) or high school (9-12). A K-8 school is an example of a combined school.

Competency Based Learning – An instructional model characterized by the following:

  • Students advance upon mastery of content;
  • Explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives;
  • Meaningful assessment and positive learning experiences;
  • Timely, differentiated support based on individual learning needs; and
  • Learning outcomes emphasizing the application and creation of knowledge along with the development of important skills and dispositions.

Complaint – A state dispute-resolution option addressing a disagreement regarding special education programs, procedures or services. A formal complaint is considered a request that the Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Dispute Resolution and Administrative Services investigate an alleged violation of a right of a parent and/or child with disabilities who is eligible, or believed to be eligible, for certain services based on federal and state laws and regulations governing special education. More about Complaints

Composite index of local ability to pay – The composite index determines a school division’s ability to pay education costs fundamental to the commonwealth’s Standards of Quality (SOQ). The composite index is calculated using three indicators of a locality’s ability-to-pay:

  • True value of real property (weighted 50 percent)
  • Adjusted gross income (weighted 40 percent)
  • Taxable retail sales (weighted 10 percent)

Each locality’s index is adjusted to maintain an overall statewide local share of 45 percent and an overall state share of 55 percent.

Confined – At home or in a health care facility: The student is unable to participate in the normal day-to-day activities typically expected during school attendance; and absences from home are infrequent, of relatively short duration or to receive health care treatment.

Core curriculum – The body of knowledge that all students are expected to learn in the subjects of English, mathematics, history/social science and science.

Counseling – Consists of professional advisement and interpretive services with children or adults for amelioration or prevention of problems that impact education.

Credit recovery courses (online) – Online courses that allow students to make up failed credits needed for high school graduation or be on track to enter high school prepared to meet the demands of a college-preparatory curriculum.

Culturally responsive practices – Instructional and support practices that acknowledge that culture is central to learning and encouraging to learn by building on the experiences, knowledge and skills they bring to the classroom, group, office or meeting.

Curriculum – A plan or document that a school or school division uses to define what will be taught and the methods that will be used to educate and assess students.

Curriculum alignment – Occurs when local curricula and classroom instruction include or exceed the content, knowledge and skills described by the Standards of Learning.

Cyber school – An online instructional program (public, private, state, charter, etc.) that offers full-time education delivered primarily over the internet; term used synonymously with the terms virtual school, eSchool and online school.


Data-based decision making (also referred to as “research-based decision making”) – Organizing, analyzing and interpreting existing sources of information and other data to make decisions.

Deeper Learning – Students demonstrate knowledge through six competencies: mastering core academic content, thinking critically and solving complex problems, working collaboratively, communicating effectively, learning how to learn, and developing academic mindsets.

Digital learning – Any instructional practice that uses technology to support student learning, including digital learning content (which may include openly licensed content, software or simulations); access to online databases and to primary source documents; online and computer-based formative and cumulative assessments; interactive collaborative environments that may allow student collaboration with content experts and peers; hybrid or blended learning; and fully online course opportunities.

Digital Fluency – A broad set of skills which include the ability to communicate respectfully with a variety of people, evaluate and judge veracity of digital resources, evaluate and learn to use digital tools, and adapt to rapid technological change.

Direct aid to public education – Funding appropriated for the operation of public schools, including funding for school employee benefits, Standards of Quality, incentive-based programs, allotment of sales tax and lottery revenues, and specific appropriations for programs such as Governor’s Schools and adult literacy initiatives.

Disaggregated data – Presentation of educational data broken into subgroups of students instead of the entire student body which allows parents and teachers to measure how each student group is performing; typical subgroups include students who are economically disadvantaged, from different racial or ethnic groups, those who have disabilities or have limited English fluency.

Disproportionality – The degree to which students in specific racial groups may or may not be at higher risk for being identified as having a disability and/or in a specific disability category compared with students not in that racial group.

Distance learning – Learning in which the participants are at a distance from each other – in other words, are separated in space. They may or may not be separated in time (asynchronous vs. synchronous). Various forms of technology are used to provide educational materials and experiences to students.

Dropouts – Students who end their high school education before earning a diploma, high school equivalency or certificate of completion.

Due process hearing – An informal administrative process before a special education hearing officer to resolve disagreements over such issues as a child's eligibility for special education and related services, evaluation of a child with a disability, appropriateness of a child's services and/or placement, or any other matter under free, appropriate public education, including disciplinary matters. More about Due Process


Early childhood education – The education of young children, especially under the age of five. More about Early Childhood

Economically disadvantaged – A student is economically disadvantaged if the student:

  • is eligible for Free/Reduced Meals,
  • receives Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or
  • is eligible for Medicaid.

If the student is identified as experiencing homelessness or becomes identified as migrant, at any point during the school year, the student is automatically identified as economically disadvantaged and is also eligible for the Free and Reduced Meals Program.

Electronic Learning (eLearning) Education in which instruction and content are delivered primarily over the Internet; synonymous with online learning, cyber learning and virtual learning.

Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA) The primary federal law affecting K-12 education; the most recent reauthorization of the law is also known as the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. More about ESEA

Elementary school – A school with grades kindergarten through five.

Endorsements – Components of a teaching license that indicate the specific subject(s) or content area(s) an individual is qualified to teach according to state Board of Education regulations.

English as a second language (ESL) – A program of instruction and services for non-English-speaking students or English learners to help them learn and succeed in school . More about English as a Second Language (ESL)

English-language learners (ELL) – Student whose first language is other than English and who is in a special program for learning English.

Enrollment – The act of complying with state and local requirements for registration or admission of a child for attendance in a school within a local school division; also refers to registration for courses within the student’s home school or within related schools or programs. More about Enrollment  

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA) replaced the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and provides states with more flexibility in designing student assessment and school accountability programs. More about ESSA

Expulsion – The removal of a student from attendance of school for more than 364 calendar days.


Family life education – A comprehensive, sequential K-12 curriculum that includes age-appropriate instruction in family living and community relationships, abstinence education, the value of postponing sexual activity, the benefits of adoption as a positive choice in the event of an unwanted pregnancy, human sexuality and human reproduction. More about Family Life Education

Foster care – A situation in which – for a period of time – a child lives with and is cared for by people who are not the child's parents.

Four core subject/academic areas – English, mathematics, science and history/social science for purposes of SOL testing.

Free and appropriate public education (FAPE) – Special education and related services provided pursuant to the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 for students with disabilities at public expense, under public supervision, at no charge to the parents and based on the child's unique needs as set forth in the student’s individualized education program.

Full-time online program – A program that allows students to take a full load of online courses.

Functional behavioral assessment (FBA) – An assessment to determine the underlying cause or functions of a child’s behavior impeding the learning of the child with a disability or the learning of the child’s peers.


General education – K-12 instruction that meets the commonwealth’s Standards of Learning and prepares children for elementary, secondary and postsecondary success.

Gifted programs – Programs that provide advanced educational opportunities including accelerated promotion through grades and classes and an enriched curriculum for students who are endowed with a high degree of academic ability. More about Gifted Student Instruction

Governor’s school – A school serving gifted high school students who meet specific admissions criteria for advanced educational opportunities in areas including the arts, government and international studies, mathematics, science and technology. More about Governor's School Programs

Graduate – A student who has earned a Board of Education-recognized diploma. More about Graduation Requirements


Head Start – A federally funded child-development program that provides health, educational, nutritional, social and other services to pre-school children from economically disadvantaged families.

Home-based instruction – Educational services provided in the home (or other agreed-upon setting) for students removed from school for disciplinary or other reasons – but not the result of a medical referral – in accordance with each student’s individual education program.

Homebound instruction – Instruction provided to students who are confined at home or in a health care facility for periods that would prevent normal school attendance based upon certification of need by a licensed physician or licensed clinical psychologist and as determined by the student’s individualized education program (IEP) team.

Home instruction (also referred to as home schooling) – Instruction provided by a parent or parents, guardian or other person having control or charge of a student as an alternative to attendance in a public or private school in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Virginia (§22.1-254.1). More about Home Instruction

Home tutoring – Instruction by a tutor or teacher with qualifications prescribed by the Virginia Board of Education, as an alternative to attendance in a public or private school and approved by the division superintendent in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Virginia §22.1-254; often used as an alternative form of home schooling.


Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA ’04) – Federal law guiding the delivery of special education services for students with disabilities which includes the guarantee of “free and appropriate public education” for every school-age child with a disability and allows parental involvement in the educational planning process, encourages access to the general curriculum and delineates how school disciplinary rules and the obligation to provide a free appropriate public education for disabled children. More about IDEA

Individualized education program (IEP) – A written plan created for a student with disabilities by the student's parents, certain school personnel (including the student’s teachers) and other interested parties. The plan is tailored to the individual student's unique needs and abilities, and establishes annual, measurable goals for the student. More about IEP & Instruction

Individualized education program team (IEP Team) – A team charged with developing, reviewing and revising a student’s individualized education program and consisting of the parents, the student (if appropriate), the student’s regular education teacher and special education teacher, a representative of the school division qualified to supervise the provision of services and an individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results.

Individualized family service plan (IFSP) – A written plan outlining the procedure necessary to transition a child with disabilities to preschool or other appropriate services.

Individualized learning – An educational approach wherein the teacher varies the learning objectives, instructional methods, content and assessment methods based on the needs of individual students.

Industry credential – A Virginia Board of Education-approved credential in a career and technical education field from a recognized industry, trade or professional association; or a state-issued professional license in a career and technical field. Types of credentials include Full Industry Certification, Pathway Industry Certification, Occupational Competency Skills Assessment, State License, and Workplace Readiness Skills for the Commonwealth Certification. More about Industry Credentialing

International Baccalaureate (IB) – An internationally recognized, interdisciplinary, pre-collegiate course of study offered through the International Baccalaureate Organization, headquartered in Switzerland, with examination results accepted by more than 100 countries for university admission.


Licensed clinical psychologist – A individual licensed by the Virginia Board of Psychology who must either be in a treatment relationship or establishing a treatment relationship with the student to meet eligibility requirements for requesting homebound services.

Licensed physician – An individual licensed by the Virginia Board of Medicine to practice medicine who can certify medical conditions for requesting homebound services.

Licensed teacher – An individual who has met statutory and state Board of Education requirements for teaching and has been issued a license authorizing him or her to teach in the subject area. More about Licensure

Limited-English proficient (LEP) – Refer to English-language learners.

Linear weighted average – A calculation approximating what most school divisions spend to operate their schools used to establish the funded cost of many components of the Standards of Quality, such as instructional salaries.

Literary fund – Established in the Constitution of Virginia (Article VIII, § 8) as a permanent and perpetual school fund that provides low-interest loans to school divisions for capital expenditures, such as construction of new buildings or remodeling of existing buildings.

Local Assessment – An assessment selected and carried out by a local educational agency that is separate from an assessment required by the state or federal government. More about Locally Developed Assessments

Locally awarded verified credit – A verified unit of credit awarded by a local school board in accordance with the state Board of Education regulations.

Long-term suspension – The removal of a student from attendance of school for 11 to 45 days; depending on the seriousness of the offense, a long-term suspension may extend beyond a 45-day period but shall not exceed 364 calendar days.


Magnet school/center (also referred to as specialty school/center) – A public school that focuses on a particular area of study, such as performing arts or science and technology but also offers regular school subjects.

Mediation – A voluntary, state-administered special education dispute-resolution option that involves a meeting facilitated by an impartial, trained mediator to assist parents and school staff in their negotiations with each other. More about Mediation

Mentor (online) – A person working face-to-face with an online student to provide physical supervision and support. A mentor may or may not be a certified teacher but works in conjunction with the certified online teacher.

Middle school – A school with grades 6 through 8.

Migrant education – A program of instruction and services for children who move periodically with their families from one school to another in a different geographical area to secure seasonal employment. More about Education of Migratory Children

Multi-division online provider (MOP) – Refers to a private or nonprofit organization that enters into a contract with a local school board to provide online courses or programs through that school board to students who reside in Virginia both within and outside the boundaries of the contracting division; a private or nonprofit organization that enters into contracts with multiple local school boards to provide online courses or programs to students in grades K-12 through those school boards; or a local school board that provides online courses or programs to students who reside in Virginia but outside the boundaries of the school division. More about Multi-division Online Providers


National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) – A national assessment of student achievement that is taken by samplings of students in each state and nationwide. Tests in reading and mathematics are administered every two years and science tests are administered every four years. NAEP provides a means of comparing the progress of states in raising student achievement. More about NAEP

National Blue Ribbon Award – An award that honors public and private K-12 schools that are either academically superior in their states or that demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement; awarded annually by the U.S. Department of Education.

Nation’s Report Card – See National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

No Child Left behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) – See Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Non-academic competencies – Skills, habits, and attitudes students need to prosper both at school and in the wider world , such as persistence and creativity.

Norm-referenced tests – Standardized tests designed to measure how a student's performance compares with that of other students.


Online course – Any course offered over the Internet; synonymous with e-course, virtual course and cyber course.

Online learning – Education in which instruction and content are delivered primarily over the Internet; synonymous with e-learning, cyber learning and virtual learning.

Online learning program – An organized offering of courses delivered primarily over the internet; synonymous with eLearning Program, cyber learning and virtual learning.

Online school – A formally constituted organization (public, private, state, charter, etc.) that offers full-time education delivered primarily over the internet; synonymous with virtual school, e-school and cyber school.

Online teacher (or online instructor) – An appropriately licensed teacher who is responsible for instruction in an online course.

Open education resources (also known as openly licensed educational resources) – Digital learning resources that have been published with a copyright license that permits their free use and modification. Examples include digital textbooks and apps.


Part-time student – A non-public school students who take one or classes in a public school; a student enrolled in a public school on a less than full-time basis,

Personalized learning – An educational approach which varies the learning objectives, instructional methods, content and assessment methods based on the needs of the student, with the involvement of the student in selecting content and educational objectives.

Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) – A state-provided K-3 screening tool to help reduce the number of children with reading problems by detecting those problems early and providing research-based, small-group intervention.

Pedagogy – Instructional methods, practices, techniques and strategies.

Planning period – One class period per day (or the equivalent) unencumbered of any teaching or supervisory duties.

Portfolio – A collection of student work chosen to exemplify and document a student's learning progress over time.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) – A research-based program that uses methods and approaches to discipline that reduce office referrals while increasing teaching and learning time in the classroom. PBIS is designed to impact school culture by shifting attention to positive behavior and successful learning systems.

Pre-school child care – A school-operated program that provides custodial care of pre-school students enrolled in a school or system before school day starts and/or after a school day ends. More about Early Childhood

Proficient – Evidence that the student demonstrated the skills and knowledge defined in the Standards of Learning as appropriate for the grade level or course.

Professional/staff development – Training for teachers, principals, superintendents, administrative staff, local school board members and Board of Education members designed to enhance student achievement and is required by the Standards of Quality.

Project-based learning – An educational approach emphasizing creativity and critical thinking which uses broad, complex problems as a method for learning both content and skills. Projects are authentic and generally cross-curricular and require collaboration, either with peers or experts.

Psychiatrist – A doctor who has been licensed by the Virginia Board of Medicine and trained to practice in the science of treating mental diseases.


Reading First – A federal program focusing on proven methods of early reading instruction to ensure all children learn to read well by the end of third grade.

Recess – A segment of free time during the standard school day in which students are given a break from instruction.

Reconstitution – A process to initiate a range of accountability actions to improve pupil performance and to address deficiencies in curriculum and instruction; may include, but is not limited to, restructuring a school’s governance, instructional program staff or student population.

Regular school year – The period of time between the opening day of school in August or September and the closing day of school for that school term that is at minimum 180 teaching days or 990 teaching hours.

Remedial program – A program designed to remedy, strengthen and improve the academic achievement of students who demonstrate substandard performance.

Research-based decision making – See “data-based decision making.”

Response to intervention (RTI) – Early and effective assistance to children who are having difficulty learning.

Restructuring – The implementation of a new organizational pattern or style of leadership and management to bring about renewed, more effective schools. It can mean reorganizing the school day or year and changing conventional practices, such as grouping students by age for an entire school year or giving competitive grades. Or it may refer to changing the roles of teachers and administrators, allocating more decision-making power to teachers, and involving parents in decisions.


Sampling – A means of estimating how a whole group would perform on an assessment by testing representative members of the group or giving different portions of the test to various subgroups.

SAT – One of two commonly used tests designed to assess high school students' general educational development and required for college entrance by many institutions of higher education; published and administered by the College Board.

Seat-time – The amount of instructional time required to earn a credit (Carnegie unit) and in online learning is indicated by amount of time engaged in coursework.

School – A publicly funded institution where students are enrolled for all or a majority of the instructional day; those students are reported in fall membership at the institution and the institution, at minimum, meets requirements adopted by the Board of Education.

School age – A child who is age 5 on or before September 30 and has not reached age 20; compulsory attendance school age is 5-18.

School nurse – A specialized practice of professional nursing that advances the well-being, academic success and life-long achievement and health of students.

School psychologist – A person licensed by the Board of Psychology to practice school psychology with demonstrated competencies in assessing students' cognitive abilities, academic performance, interpersonal emotional/social functioning and sensory-motor functioning, as well as the understanding of the knowledge, skills, and processes for direct and indirect interventions. More about School Psychology Services

School Readiness – Describes the capabilities of children, families, schools and communities that promote student success in kindergarten and beyond. More about School Readiness

School social worker – A person trained to provide service and action to effect changes in human behavior, emotional responses, and the social conditions of students through the application of the values, principles, methods, and procedures of the profession of social work. More about School Social Work Services

Secondary school – A public school with any grades 9 through 12.

Self-paced course (online) – An online course in which students work at their own pace within an overall timeframe.

Short-term suspension – The removal of a student from attendance of school up to 10 school days for sufficient cause

Special education (SPED ) – Specially designed instructional and related services delivered at no cost to the parent that adapts the curriculum, materials or instruction for students identified as having educational or physical disabilities under federal law and tailored to the individual student's needs and learning style and provided in a general education or special education classroom, home, hospital, separate school or other setting. More about Special Education

Specialty school – See magnet school/center.

Standardized testing – Tests administered and scored under uniform (standardized) conditions.

Standard school day – A calendar day that averages at least five and one-half instructional hours for students in grades 1-12, excluding breaks for meals and recess, and a minimum of three instructional hours for students in kindergarten.

Standard school year – A school year of at least 180 teaching days or a total of at least 990 teaching hours per year.

Standard unit of credit – Earned credit based on a minimum of 140 clock hours of instruction and successful completion of the requirements of the course.

Standards of Accreditation (SOA) – The Board of Education's regulations establishing criteria for accrediting public schools in Virginia as authorized in the Standards of Quality. More about the Standards of Accreditation

Standards of Learning (SOL) – The minimum grade-level and subject-matter educational objectives, described as the knowledge and skills "necessary for success in school and for preparation for life,” that students are expected to meet in Virginia public schools and specified by the Standards of Quality. More about the Standards of Learning 

SOL curriculum framework – Teacher resource guide for mathematics, science, English or history/social science delineating essential knowledge, skills and processes required by the Standards of Learning.

Standards of Quality (SOQ) – The foundational educational program every public school division in Virginia must provide. A major portion of state funding for public education is based on the SOQ. The standards are established in the Constitution of Virginia, defined in the Code of Virginia and prescribed by the state Board of Education, subject to revision only by the General Assembly. More about the Standards of Quality

Student – A child age 5 on or before September 30 up to age 18; a child with disabilities age 2-21; a child of limited English proficiency who entered a Virginia school after age 12 but not age 22.

Student periods – The number of students a teacher instructs per class period multiplied by the number of class periods taught.

Substitute tests – Tests approved by the Board of Education as substitutes for SOL end-of-course tests for awarding verified credit for high school; examples include Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), SAT II, as well as a number of certifications and licensing examinations in career and technical fields.

Supplemental online program – An online program that allows students to take less than a full load of online courses.

Suspension – Refer to Short-term suspension and Long-term suspension. 

Synchronous learning – Online learning in which participants interact at the same time and in the same space.


Title I – Federal funding program authorized by Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to support instructional needs of students from low-income families to ensure that all children have a fair and equal opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach (at a minimum) proficiency on state academic achievement standards and assessments. More about Title I

Title I school – A school with a high percentage of disadvantaged students making it eligible for participation in federal Title I programs.

Title I school-wide assistance – Title I schools with 40 percent or greater high-poverty, student population may use federal funding to meet the needs of all students at the school.

Title I targeted assistance – Federal funding is used to meet the needs of the educationally disadvantaged students only and the poverty percentages must be at least 35 percent or above the districtwide average.

Transition plan – Plan provided by a licensed physician or licensed clinical psychologist to explain the need for extended homebound instruction that includes the name of the student, justification for the extension of homebound instruction, additional time homebound instruction is anticipated and specific steps planned to return the student to classroom instruction.


Universal accessibility (online) – A requirement of Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, that learning materials, including interfaces, images, sounds, multimedia elements and all other forms of information, must be made available for use by anyone, regardless of disability.

Universal design for l earning (UDL) – A framework for the design of online learning objects and environments ensuring accessibility for all users.


Verified unit of credit – Earned credit based on a standard unit of credit, plus a passing score on the corresponding end-of-course Standards of Learning test or substitute test approved by the Board of Education.

Virginia assessment program – All students in tested grade levels and courses are expected to participate in Virginia’s assessment program, unless specifically exempted by state or federal law or by Board of Education regulations. Virginia’s assessment system includes students with disabilities and English learners. Students with disabilities and English learners may take Standards of Learning tests with or without accommodations or they may be assessed through alternate or alternative assessments.

Virginia Preschool Initiative – Program providing state funds to schools and community organizations for quality preschool programs for at-risk four-year olds not served by federal programs such as Head Start or Title I. More about Preschool

Virginia’s Foundation Blocks for Early Learning – A measurable range of skills and knowledge essential for four-year-olds to acquire to be successful in kindergarten. More about early childhood Curriculum and Instruction

Virtual learning – Education in which instruction and content are delivered primarily over the internet.

Virtual school – A formally constituted organization (public, private, state, charter, etc.) that offers full-time education delivered primarily over the internet; synonymous with online school, eSchool and cyber school.