Elementary Words: Buzz Words for Parents of Elementary School Students

In school, teachers and administrators will often use vocabulary unique to the education profession. These terms can sometimes confuse parents and keep them in the dark. To help you stay informed, some common elementary buzz words are explained below.

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Elementary Buzz Words Parents Should Know


Accommodations refer to the adjustments teachers use to help students. These adjustments can be made on class assignments, homework and instruction. When teachers make accommodations, they often make changes that are in the best interest of the students and that give them the best chance to succeed. If a child is in special education, certain accommodations are mandated.


Assessments are what teachers use to determine how students are doing and if they understand the material presented in class. They are also used to help teacher's know if certain instructional practices are working or not. Assessments can be formal, such as tests and quizzes, or informal, such as oral questions or short written responses.


Benchmarks are tests usually given at the end of a grading period. On these tests, students have to demonstrate their understanding and mastery of specific material that was taught during the preceding instructional period. Generally, the school district uses the results to help teachers identify areas they need to focus on.

Content Standards

Content standards refer to what students are expected to learn in a given school year. Each year, the standards build on what students have learned in the previous years. The lessons that teachers present in class are based on these standards. Statewide tests are also given on this information.

Cooperative Learning

Cooperative learning is a practice utilized by teachers in which students are allowed to work with and help each other. With this classroom strategy, students are placed in small groups or partnerships to work on class assignments. Teachers organize the students by grouping or pairing them based on their different levels of ability.

Differentiated Instruction

When teachers use differentiated instruction, they provide various types of instruction because students often learn in different ways. Some kids may be auditory, visual or kinesthetic learners. Recognizing this, teachers will often present new material in numerous ways so all students can learn and understand it in the way that works best for them.

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