Glossary of Terms

Purpose: This glossary is intended to contain and clarify terminology commonly used in the Competency Based System. It is not a comprehensive glossary of educational terms.

21st Century Learner
An individual prepared with adequate core competencies, skills and knowledge who can successfully contribute to the global workforce during his or her lifetime.

An academy is a school within a school that is designed to maximize the positive impact of a small learning community within a high school. Academies usually have a theme that occurs within the learning opportunities offered, such as Visual and Performing Arts Academy or Liberal Arts Academy. Academies are anchored to breaking ranks research around a learning community that focuses on relationships, relevance and rigor in that order, with the intent of deeply engaging students in order to have a greater number of students graduating without the need for remediation.

Accreditation Contract
This is a contract between the state and the school district governing the accreditation of schools and the district itself, setting forth procedures used by the district to accredit schools and to carry out the functions of accountability committees.

Achievement Gap
Discrepancies in demonstrated performance between different groups of learners.

Achievement Category
Labels that describe what the student demonstrated to meet the criteria for a certain level of performance (e.g., Advanced, Proficient, Partially Proficient, and Unsatisfactory).

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)
Formula calculated by the state to determine the appropriate growth of every school within several sub-categories (including gender, ethnicity, grade level) in connection to the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Adequate yearly progress is defined by the State in a manner that applies the same high standards of academic achievement to all public elementary school and secondary school students in the State.

Advanced Learning Plan (ALP)
A state-mandated document intended to outline the learning priorities of students identified as gifted.

Advanced Placement (AP)
Advanced courses offered at the high school level for which students can receive college credit, based on examination scores, at the discretion of the college they attend.

Affinity Diagram
A tool used to gather and sort information as part of the decision-making process.

American College Testing program (ACT)
A college entrance test. The scores are required as part of the application process for many colleges, particularly those in Colorado. The ACT assesses English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science Reasoning. Scores range from 1-36. All high school juniors in the state of Colorado participate in the Colorado ACT for state accountability purposes.

Analytical Assessment
A problem solving assessment.
Example: prompts, story problems

Anchor Papers
An agreed-upon standard example of student work selected to represent different levels of performance for a Learning Target.

Anywhere-Anytime Learning
A learning experience that occurs during the school day, after school or anytime of day for credit or evidence of progression toward attainment of intended Learning Targets and educational standards and

A comprehensive check of and for learning.
Example: Analytical, Skill-Based, Contextual, Formative, Summative

1. The practice of determining what level of knowledge and ability a student has attained and assigning a grade or level.

2. Tests in content areas created for district-wide use by grade and subject.

3. In Competency Based Education, the method used to collect evidence of what a student knows or is able to do.

A student who because of physical, emotional, socioeconomic or cultural factors, is less likely to succeed in a conventional educational environment.

Attendance rate
The average daily student attendance expressed as a percent.

Backwards Planning
A process of planning instruction that begins with the end result in mind.

Example: assessment is created first and all planning for instruction is done from that point.

Balanced Instruction Model (BIM)
Best teaching practices that actively engage learners through direct instruction, practical application, simulation and real-life connections.

Measurement aligned to a specific standard in order to compare one’s own process or product to it.

Blended Learning
Anytime a student learns at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home and at least in part through online delivery with some element of student control over time, place, and/or pace.

Capacity Matrix
A student tool that promotes self-monitoring of progress toward attainment of Learning Targets and goals.

Code of Conduct
A set of values derived from a shared vision that outlines a common belief system and guides behaviors for everyone to focus on learning.

Colorado Department of Education (CDE)
This is the state department that is ultimately responsible for the administration of all public schools within Colorado. The department is lead by the Commissioner of Education and its primary work centers on ensuring compliance with all state and federal laws as well as providing support and technical assistance to schools.

Colorado English Language Assessment (CELA)
An annual state assessment that is administered to all English Language Learners (ELL’s) for the purpose of measuring progress in English Language Acquisition in the areas of reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP)
An annual state assessment that is administered to all students in grades 3 through 10 in the content areas of math, reading, and writing. Tests are also administered in science in grades 5, 8 and 10.The purpose of the assessment is to measure student progress and growth as well as the efficacy of schools in delivering a quality education. Four levels of performance are described: Unsatisfactory, Partially Proficient, Proficient, and Advanced.

Community Liaisons
Specially trained personnel whose primary responsibility is community outreach to parents in need of support and to build positive partnerships between the community (particularly parents) and their neighborhood schools.

Constructed Response
A test question that requires a written student-created response.

Example: an essay.

Content Area
The ten areas of study in the Westminster Public Schools Competency Based System: Mathematics, Literacy, Science, Social Studies, Technology, Performing Arts, Visual Arts, Physical Education, World Languages, Personal Social Skills

Contextual Assessment
Assessment that incorporates real life connections.

Continuous Improvement
Formal cycle of PDCA (Plan, Do, Check and Adjust) designed to assess current practice and results to ensure progression toward goals. A Continuous Improvement cycle is systemic and systematic, has explicitly defined evaluation criteria, embeds progress-monitoring cycles, and celebrates improved results.

A sequence of learning targets that when completed make up a body of learning that will be published on a transcript.

Content Standards
Standards define what students should know and be able to do at certain levels in their schooling in order to be considered proficient in reading writing, science, math, geography, history, civics, economics, music, art, physical education, foreign language, and other subjects. All Colorado school districts must adopt content standards that meet or exceed the state’s standards.

Once proficiency is awarded and verified, this is the unit of measure that is documented on the high school or college transcript.

Criterion-reference Testing (CRT)
Tells how well a student is achieving compared to a standard (or a criterion).

Dropout rate
An annual rate reflecting the percentage of all students enrolled in grades 7-12 who leave school during the reporting period and are not known to transfer to other public or private school.

Empower Recording and Reporting System
Learning management system that tracks Learning Targets and Performance Levels within a Competency Based System.

English Language Acquisition (ELA)
A mandated program to identify students whose primary language is not English and to improve their English-language skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. This program initially was called English as a Second Language (ESL).

English Language Learners (ELL)
Refers to formally identified students whose primary language is not English. The levels used to classify these learners include NEP (Non-English Proficiency), LEP (Limited English Proficiency), and FEP (Fluent English Proficiency).

Essential Questions
Higher level questions that focus thinking about a lesson or unit.

Flow Chart
A tool that shows the work path or sequence of activities that comprise a process. It is used to obtain clarity concerning process flow and to communicate the process to others.

Formative Assessment
Formative assessments should be used as a “check and adjust” mechanism. These provide an ongoing flow of information that pinpoints what individual students currently know and need to learn next. Their purpose is to guide teaching and learning.

Examples include, but are not limited to:
Teacher-student conferences
Small group work

Gifted Education
Refers to a system of supports from GT Interventionists and general educators for students formally identified as having gifted and/or advanced-learning needs to ensure rigor, enrichment, and upward movement through acceleration in our Competency Based System. Each identified GT student has an Advanced Learning Plan to help support their unique learning needs.

Goal Setting
Creating a plan to achieve a desired outcome.

Graduation rate
The number of students who completed locally defined requirements for graduation from high school, expressed as a percent. The rate is a cumulative or longitudinal rate that calculates the number of students who actually graduate as a percent of those who were in membership and could have graduated over a four-year period.

Guaranteed and viable curriculum
A guaranteed curriculum is what IS imperative to teach – a curriculum that is communicated to all stakeholders against which we hold ourselves accountable.

A viable curriculum is what IS realistically taught during the time available.

Heterogeneous Grouping
Diverse learners working together.

Homogenous Grouping
Students with similar needs grouped together.

Individualized Education Program (IEP)
A federally mandated document given to every student with a qualifying and documented disability. The plan is set up by the Special Education department (within individual schools) to support the learning needs of students identified with disabilities. The IEP is monitored in conjunction with the Special Education team, the classroom teacher, and the parents/guardians.

Individual Literacy Plan (ILP)
A plan set up between the classroom teacher and a student’s parents making home-school agreements to develop their child’s abilities in reading. All students, including ELL, who are reading below their grade level, as determined by the fall DRA or DIBELS assessments, are placed on an ILP as dictated by the Basic Literacy Act.

Infinite Campus
Infinite Campus is a student information system that is accessed through the Internet. WPS will use this web-based system to track all student information including attendance and demographic data.

Additional targeted or intensive resources or instruction used to support individual student growth or needs.

Refers to specifically-trained educators within the areas of special education, English language acquisition, Title I, and gifted education.

Interventionist Model
Refers to an approach of addressing the academic needs of struggling learners (i.e., Focus Students) through six essential components: (a) shared leadership, (b) blending services among Interventionists, (c) role flexibility among Interventionists, (d) collaborative planning, (e) data-driven decision making & outcomes, and (f) research-based instructional practices.

Instructional Rounds
A method for administrators and teachers to observe teachers in the classroom setting with a pre-determined instructional focus. The primary goal of these rounds is to determine evidence of best instructional practice to be used for both teacher feedback and next steps for professional development.

Inter-rater Reliability
Refers to consistent scoring by various judges (or raters). Usually utilized by teams of teachers to come to a consistent understanding of student work based on a 4, 3, 2, 1 scale.

Learner-centered Classroom
Learners and teachers respond to and reflect on progress in order to build ownership and independence by involving teachers and other learners to become problems solvers, move through levels, meet their goals and figure out their own path to success; learners have the opportunity to make choices and demonstrate proficiency throughout the learner centered classroom. Teachers instruct and guide individual learners, small groups, as well as the whole class to set high expectations for all learners and determine the most effective instructional strategies for each learner in the classroom.

Learning Targets
Learning Targets are the skills and knowledge a learner must demonstrate to be proficient – Score 3.0 on the Scoring Guide. ‘

Measurement Topics
Measurement Topics are related essential learning elements that are organized into strands that are commonly taught in conjunction witheach other.

Math Example: Algebra: Functions and Equations

Management Action Plan (MAP)
A management action plan incorporates various aspects of a step-by-step program to initiate an endeavor. It coordinates the function of an activity, including facilities, learning services, professional development, human resources, finance, technology services, and public relation. The plan is then followed in order to make all new transitions smooth and well received.

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
A memorandum of understanding is similar to a letter of reprimand, where a detailed directive is documented and specified as to behavior, practice, and expectation. It is also used in negotiating agreements outside of the contracted issues.

Norm Referenced Test (NRT)
Tells how a student is achieving when compared to others in the same grade or age. Typically, students are ranked.

Observation Protocol
A highly structured instructional observation process where focus is pre-determined and elements of deep listening, understanding and focus are required. Protocols are based on research-based best practices that are indicative of high quality student achievement. Protocols include a pre-brief to determine focus of observation, observation(s), then a de-brief of patterns, themes and areas of agreement from observers for the purpose of instructional feedback to individual teachers or for faculty as a whole.

Organizational Self-Assessment Tool (OSAT)
A continuum that allows a district or school to assess the degree to which the individual components of a Competency Based System have been implemented according to a scale that runs from awareness, to understanding, 1st implementation, routine use, refinement and replication.

Refers to support personnel or teacher aides who help address students’ learning, safety, and/or personal needs.

Parking Lot
A tool for feedback that includes four sections: + plus,  delta, ? Questions, and Ideas.

A sequence of courses that when combined make up a minimum of a certification level in one of the Career Academies and can create a maximum of college courses completed in a dual enrollment model where students can be enrolled in college and high school simultaneously for credit in both systems.

Performance Indicators
The skills that scaffold to the Learning Target (vocabulary, details, and simple processes) – Score 2.0 on the Scoring Guide.

Performance Level
A group of Learning Targets that define what students need to know and do in order to progress toward proficiency ultimately leading to a high school diploma that does not require remediation.

Performance Task
Contextual assessment in which a learner demonstrates proficiency or above on Learning Target(s) based on learner interest, choice, and need. Learners use rubrics to meet success criteria and set goals to choose their pathway toward mastery.

Personal Learning Plan (PLP)
Student-driven goal setting process used by student, teachers and parents. Goals are tied to Learning Targets. The PLP form used in WPS serves as an umbrella tool that addresses the Colorado Department of Education’s reporting requirements for Individual Learning Plans (ILP), Advanced Learning Plans (ALP), Individual Education Program (IEP) snapshot, and plans for English Language Learners.

Personal Social Skills
Refers to a content area within our Competency Based System that holds expectations for students to meet specifically outlined skills in the personal and social arenas prior to graduation.

Plan/Do/Check/Adjust (PDCA)
A goal setting tool that uses a four-step cycle for continuous improvement of a system.

PLAN Assessment
A standardized, norm-referenced test administered to 10th graders. Developed by ACT, the PLAN assesses the areas of language, reading, math, and science. Scores range from 1 to 32.

A collection of student work used to set improvement goals, show student progress, and demonstrate achievement. Portfolios are sometimes used for reporting to parents and other educators.

Professional Learning Community (PLC)
A formal process and time dedicated to teacher collaboration addressing three fundamental questions: 1) What do we want students to know and be able to do? 2) How will we know when they get there? 3) What will we do if they don’t learn it or already know it?

Proficiency-based Pathways
An anyplace, anytime opportunity for students to engage in a learning experience where they can demonstrate mastery of content and skills and earn “credit” toward a diploma or meaningful certificate.

Demonstrate mastery of a Learning Target by application of knowledge.

Post-secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO)
An academic option open to high school seniors and juniors in various US states. The options allow students to take courses at the college level. It is possible for a student to graduate with both an associate’s degree and a high school diploma at the same time via PSEO.

Rubric (Scoring Guide)
A scoring tool that lists the content and criteria for a piece of work and gradation of a quality from excellent to poor.





Fill in criteria

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Fill in criteria

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Assessment system that serves as external validation that students indeed have completed a Performance Level and have reached proficiency levels as determined by the Competency Based System.

Unified Improvement Plan (UIP)
A plan created by each individual school’s building advisory council or advisory accountability committee which details how that school will address the district requirements for accreditation. The document serves as the basis for efforts to improve school performance.

Selected Response
A test question that requires choosing from possible answers already given.

Shared Vision
A shared vision establishes the collective purpose of an organization. It is derived from the commonly held beliefs of all the stakeholders involved with the organization.

Westminster Public Schools Shared Vision

  • ensures student’s skills and knowledge meet or exceed the requirements of a successful 21st Century citizen.
  • honors and embraces the diversity of its school community.
  • nurtures the love of learning and inquiry with every WPS student.
  • serves as a lighthouse district in the state of Colorado for students’ academic achievement and life-long success.

Skills-based Assessment
An application that allows students to demonstrate knowledge and skills needed to meet a standard.

S.M.A.R.T. goals
Goals with the following criteria:

Research Based
Time Bound

Special Education (SPED)
Refers to the federal mandate to provide supports and services for students with disabilities that are designed to meet their unique learning needs and to prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living.

Any individual who is invested in the organization.

Clearly stated and rigorous descriptions of what students should know and be able to do.

Skill and knowledge sets within a content area.

Math Example: Algebra

Summative Assessment
Assessments that are given periodically to determine at a particular point in time what students know and do not know. Although they may yield diagnostic information, their primary purpose is accountability.

Examples in Westminster Public Schools include:




Write From the Beginning

The approaches that are well-ordered, repeatable and use data so learning is possible.

A process involving all stakeholders.

Thematic Unit
A unit of study that integrates skills across content areas.
Example: Dinosaurs Thematic Unit might include research a specific dragon

Title I
A federally funded program providing additional resources for low-achieving students in schools with large percentages of families eligible for free/reduced price meals.

A grouping of Learning Targets within a content area or Performance Level that are a sub set of a level within the Competency Based System. Essential components of a unit include: instructional best practice, performance tasks that require application and synthesis of new learning above the Knowledge Level of the Marzano taxonomy.

Unpacking standards
A process used with learners to put standards or benchmarks into learner friendly language.

WEA (Westminster Education Association)
The Westminster Education Association (WEA) represents the licensed and Educational Support Professionals (ESP) staff working in Adams County School District