Learning Difficulties Australia




LDA Glossary of Terms

The LDA Glossary of Terms is an ongoing collection of terms and definitions that may be found in the literature on learning difficulties.  It is intended to be more than just a listing of terms and definitions, extending to explanations of concepts and approaches relevant to the field of learning difficulties and the effective teaching of students with learning difficulties. We welcome your feedback on the LDA Glossary of Terms, both in terms of suggestions of terms to be added to the Glossary, and in terms of refinements or corrections to definitions of terms already included in the Glossary.

Please send your suggestions and comments to: enquiries@ldaustralia.org  

Last updated: April 2020

In education, accommodations, or adjustments, are modifications to teaching and learning environments intending to help equalise access to the curriculum and assessment for students with learning difficulties or disabilities, by comparison to other students. Accommodations can be in the areas of the classroom environment, presentation, language, learning strategies, and assessment, and need not compromise academic standards
In relation to assessment, accommodations can describe changes in format, response, setting, timing, or scheduling that do not alter in any significant way what the test measures or the comparability of scores. Accommodations are designed to ensure that an assessment measures the intended construct, not the child’s disability. Accommodations affect three areas of testing: 1) the administration of tests, 2) how students are allowed to respond to the items, and 3) the presentation of the tests (how the items are presented to the students on the test instrument).
For examples of typical accommodations see: http://www.ldonline.org/article/Accommodations_for_Students_with_LD

Accuracy, in relation to decoding and encoding words, is the ability to recognize and to spell words correctly.

Achievement tests
Achievement tests are standardized assessments that measure the acquisition of knowledge and skills in academic subject areas (i.e., math, spelling, and reading), usually against age and stage of learning – see bench marks.

Active learning
Active learning is an umbrella term that refers to several models of instruction that focus the responsibility of learning on learners. Bonwell and Eison (1991) popularized this approach to instruction. However, according to Mayer (2004) strategies like “active learning" developed out of the work of an earlier group of theorists -- those promoting discovery learning. While there is no question that learners should be engaged during learning and cognitively active, several researchers have noted that being behaviorally active during initial learning can be detrimental.  It has been suggested that students who actively engage with the material are more likely to recall information (Bruner 1961), but several well known authors have argued that this claim is not well supported by the literature. Rather than being behaviorally active during learning, Mayer (2004) suggests learners should be cognitively active.

Theorists such as Sweller (and Piaget) recognize that behaviourally active learning does not necessarily imply cognitively active learning, and cognitively active learning is not necessarily related to ‘active learning’, in the sense of discovery learning etc. (See also, cooperative, constructivist, discovery, hands-on, holistic, inquiry, learning by doing, project, thematic).

To advocate is to urge support for someone, something or a specific course of action.

In the fields of Psychology and Psychiatry, affect is a term used in relation to feelings/emotions to describe an expressed or observed emotional response displayed to others through facial expressions, hand gestures, voice tone, body language and other emotional signs such as laughter or tears.

Affective Filter
In educational psychology, an affective filter is an emotional blockage to new learning, such as toward second language learning. If a learner is suffering from discomfort from embarrassment, shame, or fear of punishment around learning, this represents an affective filter preventing learning from taking place.  Affective filters are common and teachers need to be aware of the causes of affective filters which dealing with learners who may be more susceptible to emotional impulses or pressures.

Age Equivalent
In standardised testing, age equivalent scores are those which show the typical age of the norm group that obtained a similar score, such as the median (middle) score or within a specific percentile range.

Age Equivalent Score
In a norm-referenced assessment, individual student's scores are reported relative to those of the norming population. This can be done in a variety of ways, but one way is to report the average age of people who received the same score as the individual child. Thus, an individual child's score is described as being the same as students that are younger, the same age, or older than that student (e.g. a 9 year old student my receive the same score that an average 13 year old student does, suggesting that this student is quite advanced).

Alphabetic principle
The alphabetic principle is the basic idea that written language is a code in which written letters (graphemes) represent the sounds (phonemes) in spoken words. The English Alphabetic Code uses the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet to represent the 44 basic sounds of spoken English. A number of graphemes are sometimes combined into digraphs, trigraphs and tetragraphs, but still represent one sound. The letter ‘q’ is represented in the digraph ‘qu’.  There are relatively few trigraphs and tetragraphs in the English language (see also digraph, trigraph and tetragraph).

Alternative assessment
Usually means an alternative to a paper and pencil test; refers to non-conventional methods of assessing achievement (e.g., work samples and portfolios) - see accommodations.

Alternate forms
Two or more standardised versions of a test that are considered interchangeable, in that they measure the same constructs in the same ways, are intended for the same purposes, and are administered using the same directions.

Alternative Schools
Schools designed with an educational philosophy different from regular public education.

Analogy phonics
Analogy phonics is a type of analytical phonics in which phonograms (a letter or combination of letters that represent sound in speech) and word families (consistent graphophonic rhyming word patterns such as cat, hat, fat – etc) are learned and then used to analyse and decode unknown words.

Analytical phonics
Learning to use known letter-sound relationships from previously learned words to analyse unknown words without pronouncing the sounds in isolation or blending sounds ‘all-through-the-word’. Consonant blends and some other letter combinations such as ough and ing are taught in units.

One in a group of speech disorders in which there is a defect or loss of the power of expression by speech, writing, or signs, or a defect or loss of the power of comprehension of spoken or written language.

Aptitude is an individual’s potential ability to learn or to develop proficiency in an area if provided with appropriate education or training. Aptitude tests include tests of general academic (scholastic) ability; tests of special abilities (i.e., verbal, numerical, mechanical, problem solving); tests that assess “readiness” for learning; and tests that measure ability and previous learning that are used to predict future performance.

In education, assessment is the process of testing and measuring functional and potential skills and abilities. Assessments include aptitude tests, achievement tests, and screening tests.

Assistive Technology
Assistive technology is computer software and hardware that provide solutions for students who have difficulty reading or accessing text, either electronic (computer generated) or as hard copy (printed), owing to a print disability. Several programs are available such as text prediction, text to speech, speech to text, mind mapping. New and emerging devices including iPod Touch models, iPads, eBook Readers and even Smart Phones and Mobile Phones provide opportunities for capturing and scanning information and converting it to voice and sound file formats as well as to text. Some resources are free such as My Study Bar which provides a suite of literacy tools which loads as a floating toolbar so the tool can be available to the user from within any program and can be run from a USB flash drive on any computer. New programs designed to aid reading and writing are continually being developed.  Also see: http://www.ldaustralia.org/342.html

Asynchronous development/dysychronous development
These terms describe differing rates for physical, cognitive and emotional development. If you tell a gifted child to "act your age!" s/he may legitimately respond, "which one?" The gifted child may have a chronological age of 8 years, a mental age of 12 years and an emotional age of 5 years.

At their own pace
The idea that children should not be taught at an externally controlled pace as it is thought that learning will occur as and when the child is ready. (See developmentalism).

Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADHD includes any of a range of behavioral disorders characterized by symptoms that include poor concentration, an inability to focus on tasks, difficulty in paying attention, and impulsivity. A person can be predominantly inattentive (often referred to as ADD), predominantly hyperactive-impulsive, or a combination of these two. Children with ADHD commonly have difficulties learning at school as a consequence of their attentional and behavioural problems.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
ADD can cause difficulty in regulating attention effectively, including paying appropriate attention for the required amount of time and the ability to shift attention to another task. As a consequence, children with ADD often have difficulties developing the skills of literacy and numeracy that require sustained attention.

Auditory discrimination
Ability to detect and identify the similarities and differences in sounds; may be gross ability such as detecting the differences between the noises made by a cat and dog, or very specific skill such as detecting the differences made by the sounds of letters "m" and "n."

Auditory figure-ground
Ability to attend to and accurately identify and compare specific individual sounds against a background of conflicting sound, (e.g., hearing the teacher's voice against classroom noise).

Auditory learning
An auditory learning style is one through which a person can learn more easily and effectively by listening. (See also, auditory, kinaesthetic, learning styles, modality, tactile, verbal, visual)

Auditory memory
Ability to retain information which has been presented orally; in short term or working memory, such as recalling information presented several seconds before, or that which has not as yet been learned to mastery and committed to long term memory; such as automatic recall of information which has been learned at any time; or sequential memory, such as recalling a series of information in proper or defining order.

Auditory perception deficit
An auditory perceptual deficit can cause difficulty interpreting auditory information (i.e. sound), but is not caused by problems with hearing.

Authentic assessment
A form of assessment in which students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills as compared to objective standardised tests. Authentic assessment criteria include construction of knowledge, disciplined inquiry, and the value of achievement beyond the school.

Authentic text
Authentic text materials reflect the real world; non-academic text; such as bus schedules, directions for assembling a computer, etc. Also, in student programs, authentic text has not been altered in form or content, as in original publications of children's literature.

Automaticity is a general term that refers to the performance level of any task when that task can be performed rather easily with little attention, effort, or conscious awareness - such as decoding words, tying shoe laces, handwriting, riding a bike or touch typing. In relation to reading, automaticity is defined as fast, accurate and effortless word identification at the single word level, and is a valid predictor of comprehension. These skills become automatic after varied, but often extended periods of training. With practice and good instruction, students become automatic at word recognition, that is, retrieving words from long term memory, and are then more able to focus attention on constructing meaning from the text rather than decoding. (see Fluency)

Balanced Literacy Instruction
Decision making approach through which the teacher makes thoughtful choices each day about the best way to help each child become a better reader and writer” (Spiegel, 1998).

Balanced reading instruction (mixed methods)
Balanced literacy/reading instruction has been suggested as an integrative approach to literacy learning, portrayed by its advocates as taking the best elements of both whole language and code-emphasizing phonics, something advocated by Adams in 1990. Critics of whole language have suggested that "Balanced Literacy" is just the disingenuous recasting of the very same whole language, with obfuscating new terminology, and is sometimes referred to as the mixed method.
For more information, see, “Whole Language Lives On: The Illusion of "Balanced" Reading Instruction” by Louisa Moats. http://www.edexcellence.net/doc/moats.pdf

Balanced Reading Program
A reading program that incorporates all the components of reading: phonemic awareness, decoding, comprehension, vocabulary and fluency.  This term is usually associated with a predominantly Whole Language approach with some phonics included, usually analytical-type phonics.

Banking theory of schooling
The term 'banking education' was coined by Paulo Freire to refer to educational pedagogy which is likened to the process of banking. The passive student becomes a depository for storing bits of knowledge which might be withdrawn and used later in life.

Barking at print
Term used to describe reading (saying the words) without comprehension; commonly used by opponents of phonics-based reading instruction. (See also word-by-word reading, word calling)

Basal reader
A kind of book that is part of a graded reading series used to teach reading, based on an approach in which words are used and meant to be learned as a whole. The words are used over and over in each succeeding lesson. New words are added regularly.

Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS)
Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) is often referred to as "playground English" or "survival English." It is the basic language ability required for face-to-face communication where linguistic interactions are embedded in a situational context called context-embedded language. BICS is part of a theory of language proficiency developed by Jim Cummins, which distinguishes this conversational form of language from CALP (Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency).

BICS, which is highly contextualized and often accompanied by gestures, is cognitively undemanding and relies on context to aid understanding. BICS is much more easily and quickly acquired than CALP, but is not sufficient to meet the cognitive and linguistic demands of an academic classroom.

A group or series of tests or subtests administered to assess overall achievement, potential or functional abilities and skills

Bell curve
See normal distribution curve.

Levels of (usually) academic performance used as checkpoints to monitor progress toward performance goals and/or academic standards as initially identified through global standardised testing such as NAPLAN (Australia’s National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy). 

Big book
Big books are enlarged versions of a reading book, usually illustrated and with very large type, generally used by a teacher guided group of students to read together and learn about concepts of print, phonological patterns such as rhyming words, and various reading strategies.

A blend is a consonant sequence before or after a vowel within a syllable, such as cl, br, or st; it is the written language equivalent of consonant cluster.

Blending (synthesising)
Synthetic phonics teaches children to blend independent sounds in order to arrive at the pronunciation for a printed word. The teacher does not pronounce the word because the point of blending is to allow learners to work the word out (decode the word) for themselves.

Bloom’s Taxonomy
What educators want students to know arranged in a hierarchy from less to more complex. The levels are understood to be successive, so that one level must be mastered before the next level can be reached. The original levels by Bloom et al. (1956) were ordered as follows:  Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation.

Bottom Up Reading Instruction
Phonics advocates argue that if a person is able to correctly decode text, meaning and understanding will follow.  The text contains the message, and through the act of decoding the text, the reader discovers what that message is.

Brain based learning
Advances in neuroscience are said to allow for a greater understanding of how the brain works and can inform educators on what kinds of learning activities are most effective. However, there is no evidence that neuronal processes can be related to classroom outcomes.

"There is an enormous body of brain research, but with the brain being easily the most complicated thing we know about in the universe, we really still understand very little about it"-- Bryan D. Fantie, director of the Human Neuropsychology Laboratory and Behavioral Neurosciences Doctoral Program at American University. For more information see; “Put Brain Science on the Back Burner” by Dr. John T. Bruer.

Brain Imaging Techniques
Recently developed brain imaging techniques are non-invasive techniques for studying the activity of living brains. They include brain electrical activity mapping (BEAM), computerized axial tomography (CAT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).  Such techniques may be used for research of functions relevant to learning such as brain activity during reading in individuals with or without dyslexia. Results of such research are so far of more scientific than pedagogical interest.

Brain Injury
The physical damage to brain tissue or structure that occurs before, during, or after birth that is verified by EEG, MRI, CAT, or a similar examination, rather than by observation of performance. When caused by an accident, the damage may be called Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  While brain injury quite clearly can cause difficulties in learning, it is NOT the common cause of Learning Difficulties.

See "Curriculum Based Measurement"

In standardized testings, the ceiling is the highest level of performance or score that a test can reliably measure.

Ceiling effect
The ceiling effect is a compression of top scores on a test. That is, if an assessment item only scores to a certain level and the student is capable of performing at a higher level, her/his real ability will not be recorded.  

Central auditory processing
The way in which the brain processes, interprets, and makes use of auditory information.

Chalk and talk
A traditional method of education in which the teacher addresses the students, using a blackboard to provide examples or illustrations

Child-centred schooling (also student-centred)
Child-centred schooling is meant to adapt to the needs and concerns of children as opposed to those of adults and has been influenced by the work of John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, Noam Chomsky, Ken Goodman and Frank Smith. Child-centred Educators reject traditional curriculum in favour of hands-on activities and group work in which students determine their own classroom activities. Unstructured, play-based activities are considered superior to teacher-directed, content-driven learning as this is believed to teach the ‘whole’ child while respecting children’s individuality. (See also, active, cooperative, constructivist, discovery, hands-on, holistic, inquiry, learning by doing, project, thematic)

Clackmannanshire (Clacks) study
A landmark study on the effects of reading instruction based on synthetic phonics, which led to the formal adoption of synthetics phonics as the recommended approach to the teaching of initial reading in the UK  (see The Effects Of Synthetic Phonics Teaching On Reading And Spelling Attainment: A seven year longitudinal study by Rhona Johnston and Joyce Watson.

We report here a study of the effectiveness of a synthetic phonics programme in teaching reading and spelling. Around 300 children in Primary 1 were divided into three groups. One group learnt by the synthetic phonics method, one by the standard analytic phonics method, and one by an analytic phonics programme that included systematic phonemic awareness teaching without reference to print. At the end of the programme, the synthetic phonics taught group were reading and spelling 7 months ahead of chronological age. They read words around 7 months ahead of the other two groups, and were 8 to 9 months ahead in spelling. The other two groups then carried out the synthetic phonics programme, completing it by the end of Primary 1.

Classroom Assessment
An assessment developed, administered, and scored by a teacher to evaluate individual or classroom student performance.

Cluster Grouping
The practice of grouping students around achievement levels, often for identifying the top (perhaps) five to eight academically talented or intellectually gifted students at a grade level, and placing them in the same classroom at that grade level with a teacher best suited and qualified to work with gifted students.

Cognitive load
Cognitive load is a term that refers to the load on working memory during instruction.
Instruction may be aimed at teaching learners problem solving skills, thinking and reasoning skills (including perception, memory, language, etc. Many would agree that people learn better when they can build on what they already understand (known as a scheme), but the more a person has to learn in a shorter amount of time, the more difficult it is to process that information in working memory. Consider the difference between having to study a subject in one's native language versus trying to study a subject in a foreign language. The cognitive load is much higher in the second instance because the brain must work to translate the language while simultaneously trying to understand the new information.

Cognitive/Academic Language Proficiency (CALP)
Cognitive/Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) is the language ability required for academic achievement in a context-specific environment. Examples of context-reduced environments include classroom lectures and textbook reading assignments, where there are few environmental cues (facial expressions, gestures) that help students understand the content. CALP is part of a theory of language developed by Jim Cummins, and is distinguished from Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS).

This is an approach to teaching in which teachers (classroom and/or specialist) work together to plan and deliver learning programs. It may be aimed at successful inclusion of children with special needs. 

This process of eliminating repetition, minimizing drill, and accelerating instruction in basic skills is to help gifted students move to more challenging material.

Composite score
The practice of combining two or more subtest scores to create an average or composite score. For example, a reading performance score may be an average of vocabulary and reading comprehension subtest scores.

Conduct disorder
A psychiatric category marked by a pattern of repetitive behaviour wherein the rights of others or social norms are violated

"Knowledge is constructed by the learner from experience."

A philosophical perspective derived from the work of Immanuel Kant which views reality as existing mainly in the mind, constructed or interpreted in terms of one's own perceptions. Note: In this perspective, an individual's prior experiences, mental structures, and beliefs bear upon how experiences are interpreted. Constructivism focuses on the process of how knowledge is built rather than on its product or object.

Piaget's view was that "the child must make and remake the basic concepts and logical thought forms that constitute his intelligence" (Gruber & Voneche, 1977). Proponents of constructivism suggest that the only knowledge worth acquiring is that which a student finds for one's self because it is more likely to be remembered and used. E.D. Hirsch states that this kind of knowledge is useful. However, he also claims that "both discovery learning and guided learning" are actually "constructivist," so the term doesn't add anything to the discussion.  (See also, active, cooperative, constructivist, discovery, hands-on, holistic, inquiry, learning by doing, project, thematic)

Content/Content area
The academic subject matter such as math, reading, or English studied in an educational program or class.

Context Clues
Context clues are sources of information beyond words that readers may use to predict the identities and meanings of unknown words, which may be drawn from the immediate sentence containing the word, from text already read, from pictures accompanying the text, or from definitions, restatements, examples, or descriptions in the text.

Context-embedded Language
Context-embedded language refers to communication that occurs in a context of shared understanding, where there are cues or signals that help to reveal the meaning (e.g. visual clues, gestures, expressions, specific location).

Context-reduced Language
Context-reduced language refers to communication where there are few clues about the meaning of the communication apart from the words themselves. The language is likely to be abstract and academic. Examples: textbook reading, lecture.

Continuous Assessment
Continuous assessment is an element of responsive instruction in which the teacher regularly monitors student performance to determine how closely it matches the instructional goal.

Convergent Thinking
Convergent Thinking which results in conventional or expected solutions and answers. (Contrasts with divergent thinking)

Conversion tables
A chart used to translate test scores into different measures of performance or age equivalents (e.g., grade equivalents and percentile ranks).

Coolabah Dynamic Assessment
The Coolabah Dynamic Assessment tool developed by Dr Graham Chaffey (2002), to identify potential in students aged 8/9/10 or 11, is specifically designed to be effective with Aboriginal and low socio-economic status children.
Reference: Coolabah Dynamic Assessment (CDAM); Chaffey, Bailey & Vine, 2003

Cooperative learning
A strategy in Progressive/Constructivist education where learning is considered a social activity is splitting students into groups to work communally on a joint assignment. A criticism of this strategy claims that more capable students end up doing most of the work and less capable students gain little from the activity. (See also, active, cooperative, constructivist, discovery, hands-on, holistic, inquiry, learning by doing, project, thematic)

Core curriculum
The core curriculum is the fundamental collection of knowledge across the whole curriculum that all students are required to learn in school.

Typically, creativity refers to artistic, intellectual, and/or functional inventiveness.

Criteria are guidelines or rules that are used to judge performance, usually covering relatively small units of content and are closely related to instruction, but also used when marking global tests such as the writing component of the NSW Higher School Certificate. The scores have meaning in terms of what the student knows or can do, rather than in (or in addition to) their relation to the scores made by some norm group. Frequently, the meaning is given in terms of a cut-off score, for which people who score above that point are considered to have scored adequately (“mastered” the material), while those who score below it are thought to have inadequate scores.

Criterion-Referenced Tests
Measurement is compared to an acceptable standard. The individual’s performance is compared to an objective or performance standard, not to the performance of other students. Tests determine if skills have been mastered; do not compare a child’s performance to that of other children.

Critical Literacy
Critical Literacy is an instructional approach that advocates the adoption of critical perspectives toward text. Critical literacy encourages readers to actively analyze texts and offers strategies for uncovering underlying messages. Critical Literacy practices grew out of the social justice pedagogy of Brazilian educator and theorist Paulo Freire. Freirean critical literacy is conceived as a means of empowering unempowered populations against oppression and coercion. 

It has become a popular approach to teaching English to students in some English speaking-countries, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. At the heart of this approach to teaching is the belief that while literacy enables students to make meaning from texts, critical literacy will empower them to understand how texts are trying to influence and change them as members of society. Two major theoretical perspectives within the field of critical literacy today are the Neo-Marxist/Freirean and the Australian. These approaches overlap in many ways.  They do not necessarily represent competing views, but they approach the subject matter differently.Australian educators who have been influential in developing critical literacy theory in Australia include Alan Luke and Peter Freebody, and Australia has now incorporated many of the beliefs and practices of critical literacy into its national curriculum.

The use and relevance of critical literacy has been disputed. Some believe it to be inappropriate as a basis for teaching literacy skills at secondary school level, with an over-emphasis on the deconstruction of text and the analysis of the social and political implications of the ‘underlying meanings’ of text. (see Wikipedia, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_literacy, and Charles Temple at http://www.criticalthinkinginternational.org/archives/2005/06/critical_thinki.html)

Critical theory
An ongoing sociological examination of the ideas and influence of Karl Marx, especially as they apply to the values and institutions of capitalist societies and to the role of an ideology designed to foster economic, political, and social change.

Critical-thinking skills

To analyse ideas and solve problems independently:

"Critical-thinking skills": A phrase that implies an ability to analyse ideas and solve problems while taking a sufficiently independent, "critical" stance toward authority to think things out for one's self. It is an admirable educational goal for citizens of a democracy, and one that has been advocated in the United States since Jefferson. The ability to think critically is a goal that is likely to be accepted by all American educational theorists. But it is a goal that can easily be oversimplified and sloganized. In the progressive tradition that currently dominates our schools, "critical thinking" has come to imply a counterpoise to the teaching of "mere facts," in which, according to the dominant caricature, sheep-like students passively absorb facts from textbooks or lecture-style classrooms. Critical thinking, by contrast, is associated with active, discovery learning and with the autonomous, independent cast of mind that is desirable for the citizens of a democracy. Conceived in this progressive tradition, critical thinking belongs to the formalistic tool conception of education, which assumes that a critical habit of thought, coupled with an ability to read for the main idea and an ability to look things up, is the chief component of critical-thinking skills. This tool conception, however, is an incorrect model of real-world critical thinking. Independent-mindedness is always predicated on relevant knowledge: one cannot think critically unless one has a lot of relevant knowledge about the issue at hand. Critical thinking is not merely giving one's opinion. To oppose "critical thinking" and "mere facts" is a profound empirical mistake. Common sense and cognitive psychology alike support the Jeffersonian view that critical thinking always depends upon factual knowledge.
 Prof. E. D. Hirsch, Jr., "The Schools We Need and Why We Don't Have Them"

Cueing system
Any of the various sources of information that may aid identification of a word unrecognized at first glance, as phonics, structural analysis, and semantic and syntactical information. (see multicueing, 3 Searchlights, 4 resources)

Instructional plan of skills, lessons, and objectives on a particular subject; may be authored by a school, department of education, or national authority. Text book publishers often write series of graded books which are intended to reflect the existing curriculum.  A teacher typically executes this plan. Some definitions are broader, encompassing all activities that influence students’ learning in a school.

Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM)
CBM is a method to measure student progress in academic areas including math, reading, writing, and spelling. Typically, a child is tested briefly (1 to 5 minutes) each week. Scores are recorded on a graph and compared to the expected performance on the content for that year. The graph allows the teacher and parents to see quickly how the child’s performance compares to expectations.

Using knowledge about graphophonemic relationships to sound-out regular words is called deciphering. Some argue this is accomplished through a process known as "reading by analogy."

Decodable texts
Texts which do not contain irregular words. Also, these texts are usually designed to reinforce certain "rules" that have previously been taught in phonics lessons.


  • To analyse spoken or graphic symbols of a familiar language to ascertain their intended meaning.
  • Using knowledge of the sound/letter correspondences of the English Alphabetic Code for reading. In reading practice, the term is used primarily to refer to word identification rather than to identification of higher units of meaning.

Decoding is the ability to translate a word from print to speech, usually by employing knowledge of sound-symbol correspondences. It is also the act of deciphering a new word by sounding it out.

Deep orthography
Deep orthography refers to a writing system that does not have consistent or one-to-one correspondence between the phonemes in speech and the written code, such as English -- no phoneme is consistently represented by the same letter in all words, and only one letter (the letter v) consistently corresponds to a specific phoneme. Examples of shallow orthographies would include Spanish and Finnish in which there is one-to-one sound / symbol correspondence.

Derived Score
Raw scores are often converted to derived scores based on a normalised distribution of the raw scores, with a given mean and standard deviation.  This procedure requires collection of data on a representative sample of the relevant population, usually defined in terms of age or grade level.  Examples of derived scores are the z-score (mean = 0, SD=1), a deviation IQ score (mean=100, SD=15), a T-score (mean = 50 and SD= 10), and a stanine score (mean = 5 and SD= 2).  A z-score of 1 is therefore equivalent to an IQ score of 115, a T-score of 60, and a stanine score of 7.  A common procedure for many achievement tests is to convert raw scores to standardized scores with a mean of 100 and a SD of 15, so that a student’s performance across different tests can be compared, as well as performance relative to the norm group on which the test was standardized.  Derived scores are not calibrated on an equal-interval scale, in the same way as scale scores are, so they have some limitations in terms of the statistical procedures that can be applied. 

Developmental Aphasia
Developmental aphasis is a severe language disorder that is presumed to be due to brain injury rather than a developmental delay in the normal acquisition of language.

Developmentalism (also developmentally appropriate, developmentally appropriate practice, DAP)
The concept of developmentally appropriate practices refers to providing an environment and offering content, materials, activities, and methodologies that are coordinated with a child's level of development and for which the individual child is considered ready. Three dimensions of appropriateness must be considered: age appropriateness, individual appropriateness, and appropriateness for the cultural and social context of the child.

Behaviour or test score outside a standardised or expected norm.

Diagnostic Test
A test used to diagnose, analyse or identify specific areas of weakness and strength of abilities and skills; to determine the nature of weaknesses or deficiencies; diagnostic achievement tests are used to measure skills.

Differentiated Instruction
An approach to teaching that includes planning out and executing various approaches to content, process, and product. Differentiated instruction is used to meet the needs of student differences, for example, in readiness, interests, and learning abilities and/or skills.

A pair of written characters used to represent one phoneme (distinct sound) or a sequence of phonemes that do not correspond to the normal values of the two characters combined. The sound is often, but not necessarily, one which cannot be expressed using a single character in the orthography used by the language. Usually, the term "digraph" is reserved for graphemes whose pronunciation is always or nearly always the same. For example, ‹qu› usually represents /kw/; ‹q› is conventionally followed by u in native words.

Direct, explicit, intensive and systematic phonics instruction
The US National Reading Panel (2000) determined that this is the most effective way to teach all children beginning reading, see National Reading Panel.

Discovery learning
Students are given projects to work on and are expected to learn and remember knowledge from this experience. The flaws in using this strategy exclusively are said to be that it is inefficient, with some students gaining knowledge too slowly, missing some knowledge or learning incorrect information. (See also, hands-on, holistic, inquiry, learning by doing, project, thematic) (see also discovery learning, hands-on learning, holistic learning, learning by doing and thematic learning)

Divergent Thinking
Divergent thinking results in novel, unique, or creative solutions or answers.

Drill and kill
Suggesting that practice will kill a student’s interest in a subject, whereas ‘discovery’ or ‘hands-on’ learning utilizing projects based on students individual interests will engage students interest and improve learning outcomes. 

Drill and Skill
Drill and skill refers to repeated practice that develops essential skills to the level of automatic and effortless performance.

Learning difficulties in grasping basic math concepts because of problems with the language aspects of math such as understanding of terms, processes, written symbols and formal procedures, and often memorization of math facts.  A severe difficulty in understanding and using symbols or functions needed for success in mathematics.

Originally used to describe difficulty in writing legibly because of poor motor function, the term is now used also to describe a processing disorder involving difficulty with spelling that may result from poor decoding skills (sounding out words), as well as problems with organizing information and/or expressing information in written form. A severe difficulty in producing handwriting that is legible and written at an age-appropriate speed.
Also known as Written Expression Disorder
see: http://www.athealth.com/Consumer/disorders/writtenexp.html  or www.ldonline.org 

Dyslexia is a term used to describe a difficulty with reading words that is persistent, not responsive to remedial intervention, and cannot be attributed to other factors such as poor oral language skills, inadequate instruction, or low ability level.  It is therefore assumed to be due to underlying neurological or genetic factors, primarily affecting the phonological processing skills that are required for reading words. 

A diagnosis of dyslexia is only possible when other possible sources of reading difficulty are excluded, and can therefore be a complex and time-consuming process.  Since the research evidence indicates that effective strategies for addressing reading difficulties are the same, regardless of whether the reading difficulty is attributed to dyslexia or to other causes, it has been argued that a diagnosis of dyslexia is not necessary for remediation of reading difficulties, and that resources spent on obtaining a formal diagnosis of dyslexia would be better spent on providing effective support for students with reading difficulties, regardless of the source of the difficulty. (see, for example, The Dyslexia Myth, Julian G. Elliott, LDA Bulletin March 2008, Vol 40, No 1, http://www.ldaustralia.org/239.html )

Simple Definition:  Dyslexia is an inherited condition that makes it extremely difficult to read, write, and spell in your native language—despite at least average intelligence.

Research definition used by the National Institutes of Health - Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin.   It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition, and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.  These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction.  Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge  (see A Definition of Dyslexia,  G. Reid Lyon, Sally E. Shaywitz and Bennett A. Shaywitz, Annals of Dyslexia , Volume 53, Number 1, 1-14, DOI: 10.1007/s11881-003-0001-9)

Dyslexia sub-types
From Subtypes of Developmental Dyslexia and the Dual-Route Model,
Kristy Jones, Anne Castles and Saskia Kohnen, LDA Bulletin, Vol 42, No 2, July 2010.)
Dyseidetic and Dysphonetic: Dyslexia sub-types terms introduced by Eleanor Boder in 1982, but are not much used these days.

Dyseidetic dyslexia 
Difficulty in processing words as wholes, whether in reading (this is now called surface dyslexia), or in spelling (this is now called surface dysgraphia).

Dysphonetic dyslexia
Difficulty in using the rules relating letters and sounds, either in reading (this is now called phonological dyslexia) or in spelling (this is now called phonological dysgraphia).
There are a number of subtypes of dyslexia that researchers have identified. Some of the more common subtypes are.

Children with hyperlexia read words very accurately, often well beyond the level that would be expected for their age and cognitive level, but do not understand much of what they are reading.
Phonological dyslexia
Children with phonological dyslexia show difficulties decoding nonwords and unfamiliar words. 

Poor comprehenders
Poor comprehenders have difficulty understanding meaning from what they are reading and can be identified by administering a reading comprehension assessment.

Surface dyslexia
Children demonstrate a difficulty in reading irregular words aloud – those that do not follow letter-sound rules.

A marked difficulty in remembering names or recalling words needed for oral or written language.

Dyspraxia is a disability causing severe difficulty in performing drawing, writing, buttoning, and other tasks requiring fine motor skill, or in sequencing the necessary motor movements. Children who experience these difficulties can often manage a keyboard really well, even from kindergarten, as the motor skill factors of tasks have been removed, so they can then attend to the more cognitive aspects of the task. 
Articulatory verbal dyspraxia is a condition where the child has difficulty making and coordinating the précis movements which are used in the production of spoken language although there is no damage to muscles or nerves.  Afasic UKGlossary 18 - Dyspraxia/apraxia http://www.afasicengland.org.uk/

Dysychronous Development
See Asynchronous development.

Eclectic approach to reading
Combination of approaches (global, analytic and synthetic) used to suit the convenience of the teacher.

Education Adjustment Program (EAP)
Quoted from the Queensland Department of Education, “The Education Adjustment Program (EAP) is a process for identifying and responding to the educational needs of students with disabilities. Adjustments are made for students with disabilities to enable them to access the curriculum, achieve curriculum outcomes and participate in school life.”
See: http://education.qld.gov.au/students/disabilities/adjustment/index.html

Elective mutism/selective mutism
Elective mutism, a childhood anxiety disorder, is defined as a refusal to speak in almost all social situations (despite normal ability to do so), while selective mutism is considered to be a failure to speak in specific situations and is strongly associated with social anxiety disorder. In contrast to selective mutism, someone who is electively mute may not speak in any situation, as is usually shown in books and movies. Elective mutism is often blamed on defiance or the effect of trauma.

Embedded phonics
Children learn letter-sound relationships during the reading of connected text, usually when the teacher notices that a child is struggling to read a particular word. Letter-sound relationships are taught as part of sight word reading. If the sequence of letter-sounds is not prescribed and sequenced, but is determined by whatever words are encountered in text, then the program is not systematic or explicit. This approach is sometimes called incidental phonics in reference to the Whole Language teaching of reading.

Emotional Disturbance(ED)
Emotional disturbance can refer to emotional problems which interfere with a child’s ability to learn in school. The term includes problems with interpersonal relationships, inappropriate behaviours, and depression, as well as physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

Emotional Intelligence (EI)
Generally considered to be the innate potential to feel, use, communicate, recognize, remember, describe, identify, learn from, manage, understand and explain emotions. However, considerable disagreement exists regarding the definition of EI. There are currently three main models of EI;

  • Ability EL models
  • Mixed models of EI
  • Trait EI model.

For more information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_intelligence.

Some educators consider EI as one of the ‘multiple-intelligences’. For more information, see Multiple Intelligence. A highly influential book about EI is Daniel Goleman’s, “Working with Emotional Intelligence”. For a critical review of Daniel Goleman, see http://eqi.org/gole.htm 

Understanding and feeling from the point of view of the other person

English as a Second Language (ESL)/ English Language Learner (ELL)
English as a Second Language (ESL) is an educational approach in which English language learners are instructed in the use of the English language. Their instruction is based on a special curriculum that typically involves little or no use of the native language, focuses on language (as opposed to content) and is usually taught during specific school periods. For the rest of the school day, students may be placed in mainstream classrooms, an immersion program, or a bilingual education program.

Deeper coverage of content often provided for gifted students (not to be confused with differentiation or acceleration).

An assessment may be used to evaluate, or to determine whether a child may have learning disabilities or ADHD, may be called an evaluation and would probably take into consideration developmental history, learning and cognitive (thinking) skills, academic achievement level, and social and emotional functioning. Seebattery.

Evidence based reading instruction (see scientifically based reading programs)

Executive Function
An umbrella term referring to a number of cognitive functions associated with goal directed behaviour. The term is thought to refer to prefrontal brain functions, including things like set maintenance, selective attention, working memory, and inhibitory control. Problems with executive function overlap a number of childhood diagnoses, including LD and ADHD, as well as high functioning autism.

Executive Function Disorder
Difficulties with executive function skills, the cognitive processes required to plan and direct activities (including getting started and seeing them through) and regulate behaviour (inhibiting impulses, making good decisions, flexibility, and managing emotions).

Exit Criteria
Exit criteria are a set of guidelines for ending special services, such as for English language learners and placing them in mainstream, English-only classes as fluent English speakers. This is usually based on a combination of performance on an English language proficiency test, grades, standardized test scores, and teacher recommendations. In some cases, this redesignation of students may be based on the amount of time they have been in special programs.

Expected Growth
The average change in test scores that is intended to occur over a specific time for individuals at specific age or grade levels.

Experimental Writing
Efforts by young children to experiment with writing by creating pretend and real letters and by organizing scribbles and marks on paper is often described as experimental writing.

Expressive Language
As contrasted with Receptive Language, Expressive language is generated by the speaker or writer to express meaning.

Extrinsic Motivation
Reinforcers, rewards, or incentives used by one person to bring about desired behaviour in another person. (Contrast with intrinsic, or self- motivation).

Factory-model schools
Traditionally organised classrooms, with whole class teacher-directed instruction using common curriculum and standardised testing.

Facts (as in mere facts, facts are soon outdated, understanding and critical thinking are more important than facts etc)
‘Traditional’ education is sometimes derided as requiring students to merely memorise isolated facts through rote learning and then repeat these facts verbatim. Since facts and understanding are interrelated, withholding facts and factual knowledge and focusing purely on critical thinking and understanding disadvantages student’s academic performance.

Fad-based Education (also ‘fad-du-jour’)
Refers to rapidly changing, quick-fix ideas to improve student outcomes meant to easily resolve difficult educational problems. Preferring what is new and well marketed to what has validly been proven to be effective, even when multiple, evidence based research studies provide unassailable evidence, for example, on how to teach beginning reading. Information is ignored if it doesn’t fit an ideological preference. 

“... the history of education is blotched both by faddish ideas and methods that don't work and by persistent failure to institutionalize ideas and methods that do work.” (Finn & Ravitch, 1996; Ravitch, 2000). 

 “In education, research standards have yet to be standardized, peer reviews are porous, and practitioners tend to be influenced more by philosophy than evidence.” [Douglas Carnine, Why Education Experts Resist Effective Practices (And What It Would Take to Make Education More Like Medicine)]

Short-lived fashion: something that is embraced very enthusiastically for a short time, especially by many people.

Flexible Grouping
Students may part of many different groups - and also work alone - based on the match of the task to student readiness, interest or learning style.
For an informative discussion of flexible grouping in reading, see Differentiating Through Flexible Grouping (2005), by Michael P. Ford, at: www.learningpt.org/pdfs/literacy/flexibleGrouping.pdf

In standardized testing, the floor is said to be the lowest score that a test can reliably measure.

Fluency is the ability to read a text accurately, quickly, and with appropriate expression and comprehension. Because fluent readers do not have to concentrate on decoding words, they can focus their attention on what the text means.

Formal Assessment
The process of gathering information using standardized, published tests or instruments in conjunction with specific administration and interpretation procedures, and used to make general instructional decisions.

Formative Assessment
Formative assessments are designed to evaluate students on a frequent basis so that adjustments can be made in instruction to help them reach target achievement goals. See Summative Assessment.

Four Resources Model (4 resources)
Encapsulates the multi-literate requirements for reading effectively in a multimodal world in which being literate means being able to decode written text, understand and compose meaningful texts, use texts functionally and analyse texts critically. All four resources are of equal importance as readers engage in several practices together.

Frequency distribution
A frequency distribution is a method of graphically displaying information, such as test scores.

Frustration Tolerance
Ability to continue working to solve a problem even when setbacks are encountered or little progress is made.

Functional Behavioural Assessment (FBA)
A problem-solving process for addressing student problem behaviour that uses techniques to identify what triggers a given behaviour(s) and to select interventions that directly address them.  FBA is a major area of interest in the field of educational psychology.

Gebius is a popular term for extraordinary intelligence, but one which has no fixed meaning in education.

Being gifted is a label of potential referring to having superior mental ability or intelligence, or superior talent, ability, skill in a specific area such as music or sport.

Gifted Characteristics
Whilst there are lists of character traits that describe gifted children, like all children, the gifted child is a unique human. Such lists give characteristics (both positive and negative) that are common NOT universal.

  • Extremely Curious
  • Intense interests
  • Excellent memory
  • Long attention span
  • Excellent reasoning skills
  • Well-developed powers of abstraction, conceptualization, and synthesis
  • Quickly and easily sees relationships in ideas, objects, or facts
  • Fluent and flexible thinking
  • Elaborate and original thinking
  • Excellent problem solving skills
  • Learns quickly and with less practice and repetition
  • Unusual and/or vivid imagination

Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education ERIC Identifier: ED480431 Author: Mary Ruth Coleman
The Identification of Students Who Are Gifted. ERIC Digest.

Gifted Programs
Special academic and social opportunities which try to meet the needs of gifted students are sometimes called gifted programs.

Giftedness Levels
According to IQ measurements, the following labels are generally accepted:
Bright – 115 and above
Gifted – 130 and above
Highly Gifted – 145 and above
Exceptionally Gifted – 160 and above
Profoundly Gifted – 175 and above.
(see Intelligence tests for more information)

Grade Equivalent Scores
In a norm-referenced assessment, individual students' scores are reported relative to those of the norming population. This can be done in a variety of ways, but one way is to report the average grade of students who received the same score as the individual child. Thus, an individual child's score is described as being the same as students that are in higher, the same, or lower grades than that student (e.g. a student in 2nd grade my earn the same score that an average fourth grade student does, suggesting that this student is quite advanced).

Grade equivalents
Test scores that equate a score to a particular grade level. Example: if a child scores at the average of all fifth graders tested, the child would receive a grade equivalent score of 5.0.

A grapheme is a written letter or letter combination that spells a single phoneme. In English, a grapheme may be one letter, or combination of two, three, or four letters, such as e, ei, igh, or eigh, but representing one phoneme.

Graphophonic refers to the letter /sound relationship between the orthography (symbols) and phonology (sounds) of a language.

Hands-on learning
Engaging in in-depth investigations with objects, materials, phenomena and ideas, and drawing meaning and understanding from those experiences. This approach is considered by Progressive/constructivist educators to be superior to teacher-directed, whole class instruction.
(See also, active, cooperative, constructivist, discovery, hands-on, holistic, inquiry, learning by doing, project, thematic).

Higher-order skills (HOTS, Higher-order thinking skills)
Deemphasising the acquisition of general knowledge and facts through drill and repetition, and prioritising skills of reading and thinking critically by synthesizing, analysing, reasoning, comprehending, application and evaluation of information, developing metacognitive strategies and problem solving in order to be better prepared for the rapidly changing requirements of the 21st Century.

Holistic learning/approach
Teaching in which subject matter is kept intact rather than separated into parts for instructional purposes, as the integration of speaking, listening, writing, and reading into a unified approach to literacy instruction. Classroom learning organized around integrated, lifelike problems and projects rather than around standard subject-matter disciplines. (See also, active, cooperative, constructivist, discovery, hands-on, holistic, inquiry, learning by doing, project, thematic).

Home Schooling
Home schooling is an option for students whose needs are not being met at school. “Removing a student from a situation causing major concern is only the first step. Then come the obligations linked to legal requirements and most importantly, the effective ongoing education of your child, as this will affect not only their education but future life”

See: http://www.aussieeducator.org.au/education/specificareas/homeschooling.html

Homophones are words that are spelled differently and have different meanings, but sound the same – such as there and their, or two, to and too.


  • When teaching a foreign languages, the practice of communicating only in the language being taught. Some schools provide a partial immersion program as a means of teaching foreign language through curriculum instruction instead of being taught as a separate subject.
  • In beginning reading instruction, another term to describe the Whole Language philosophy of immersing children in the experience of reading and assuming that children can recognize the phonetic patterns in words and intuit the rules without needing to have every rule explicitly taught.

Incidental Vocabulary Learning
Students learn new vocabulary words from independent reading of books, magazines, newspapers, computers etc.  Incidental vocabulary learning may also occur from listening to oral language through conversations, movies, television etc.

Inclusion refers to the inclusion of students with disabilities in regular classrooms, and is based on the belief that students with disabilities have the right to equal access to the curriculum, and the right to participate socially with their age peers in a normal school environment.  In this approach, students with special needs spend most or all of their time with students who do not have special educational needs, but the extent to which this approach is implemented varies. 

Inclusion Aide
An individual who is employed to accompany the student for all or part of the school day to assure that they participate appropriately in the general education classroom, so they are not disruptive to others and gain learning opportunities for themselves.

Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) /Independent Education Plan (IEP)
An evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner, who is not employed by the school district at the public's expense.

Independent Study
Self education, often using self-selected resources and driven by student interest.

Individual differences
Recognising individual differences in learning environments by respecting factors such as socio-economic, cultural, and inherent diversity, at all levels of education, is meant to enhance learning outcomes, e.g. by countering a one-size-fits-all approach to instruction. Strategies used include exposing all students to a rich set of activities, allowing students to do as much as they can and learn what they can from the experience, often relying on discovery/project learning, multi-level instruction and authentic assessment.

Individual Education Plan (IEP)
An IEP is a method of planning, documenting and reporting on the priority learning outcomes for a student with a disability. The IEP focuses on key goals to promote the maximum development of each student. An IEP is based upon assessment to identify and then to state the student's unique characteristics and needs, educational goals and objectives to meet those needs, and instructional materials and services to be provided. An IEP may be referred to as ‘NEP’ (Negotiated Education Plan) in some states.

Individualized instruction
Content, materials and pace of learning based on the recognised individual differences, abilities and interests of each learner. Unlike traditional classroom education where the amount of time devoted to a topic is limited and student achievement is variable, properly implemented individualised instruction means that the amount of time devoted to a topic is variable and student achievement is more constant.  Individualized instruction is not the same as one-to-one teaching, but requires carefully prepared instructional materials and teacher guidance. Varying degrees of individualised instruction are used at all levels of education, but may be most appropriate for post-secondary students who have the maturity to study independently.

Individual Learning Styles, Learning Styles
"Composite of characteristic cognitive, affective, and physiological factors that serve as relatively stable indicators of how a learner perceives, interacts with, and responds to the learning environment." Keefe (1979)

"Educational conditions under which a student is most likely to learn." Stewart and Felicetti (1992)

The assumption that everyone is different, everyone learns differently and therefore individual student outcomes can be improved if learning is provided according to that student’s learning preferred style. Teachers are encouraged to use different verbal, aural, concrete and tactile aids and experiences when presenting content.
However, cognitive science informs us that while individuals do differ in their abilities with different modalities, teaching in an individual’s preferred modality does not affect academic achievement. Academic achievement improves when individuals are taught in the content’s best modality. (See also learning styles, auditory, kinaesthetic, modality, tactile, verbal, visual)

Individual Referenced
One's score is compared to one's own previous score on a test covering the same material in order to show that learning has occurred.

Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
A (USA) federal law that entitles children, whose disability requires specialized instruction and related services, to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). This special education law, first enacted in 1975, was last updated in 2004 and was given the name Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 or IDEA 04.

Informal Assessment
The process of collecting information to make specific instructional decisions, using procedures largely designed by teachers and based on the current instructional situation.

Information Gap
Information gap is a strategy of working in groups or pairs to exchange information, such as learning new vocabulary or relationships in maths, during cooperative learning lessons. It is an oral language activity in which a student is rated on success in verbally describing visual information that is hidden from a partner, such as a picture, map, or object.

Instructional Casualty
Instructional causality is a fairly recent term used to describe a student who struggles to learn to read due to inappropriate or non-optimal instruction rather than due to any intellectual or neurological disorder within the student.

Integrated Curriculum
Integrating areas of the curriculum combines content from two or more subjects to enhance meaning through interconnectedness of knowledge. 

Intelligence (general)
Intelligence is the term used in ordinary discourse to refer to cognitive ability.

Intelligence (specific)
Intelligence is a psychological construct referring to the underlying processes that determine abilities related to abstract thought, reasoning, planning, understanding and problem solving, expressed in measurable form as an intelligence quotient (IQ).

Intelligence Quotient (IQ)
IQ is a quantitative representation of cognitive ability based on standardised testing of a sample of cognitive skills.

The first measures of intelligence were devised by French psychologist Alfred Binet in 1904 for the purpose of identifying children who needed special help in coping with the school curriculum.  The tests were initially used for the identification of ‘retarded’ children for placement in special schools.  Working together with his collaborator Theodore Simon, revised versions of what became known as the Binet-Simon scale were published 1908 and 1911.  Scores on the Binet-Simon tests were expressed in the form of a mental age, based on the average score according to chronological age. 

The term "IQ," was coined by the German psychologist William Stern in 1912 as a proposed method of scoring intelligence tests such as those developed by Binet and Simon.  The IQ, or ‘Intelligence Quotient’ is calculated as Mental Age divided by Chronological Age, multiplied by 100.  The first use of the IQ to report scores on an intelligence test was in the case of the 1916 Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, developed by Lewis M. Terman of Stanford University.  This test provided the model for most intelligence tests still in use today, which are generally referred to as IQ tests.

Intelligence tests
Tests that assess intellectual capacities, based on a sampling of items tapping various areas of cognitive functioning.  Intelligence tests typically have a number of subtests, and provide both an overall score and individual subtest scores from various domains such as verbal reasoning, abstract reasoning, short-term memory, and processing speed.  Scores on intelligence tests are usually expressed in the form of an IQ, which is a standardised score based on a normal distribution of scores, with a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15 (or 16 in the case of the Stanford Binet test).  The pattern of scores among the various subtests provides a profile of an individual’s strengths and weaknesses, and an uneven distribution of scores is often associated with atypical patterns of learning.  Intelligence tests are valid only for the culturally specific populations for which they were designed and normed, and scores in the extreme ranges need to be interpreted with caution.  The most widely used individual tests of intelligence are the Wechsler tests (the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC), and the Stanford Binet test.  Group tests of intelligence are also available, and are used mainly for large scale screening or selection purposes.  The practice of identifying a specific learning difficulty or learning disability in terms of a discrepancy between IQ score and achievement is no longer recommended. (See National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD). (2011). Learning disabilities: Implications for policy regarding research and practice: A Report by the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities. Retrieved from http://www.ldonline.org/about/partners/njcld.

Motivation in the learner that is directly related to interest in the learning task, not linked to any external incentive or reward.

Invented spelling
Invented spelling refers to the practice of encouraging beginning readers when writing, to spell words from what they know, without expectation to conform to conventional spelling. The idea is that the act of writing, for the beginner, is more important than correctness of form (correct spelling). Eventually, according to this school of thought, the student will learn and use the correct form. However, the preponderance of empirical evidence on children’s spelling development indicates that children learn to spell correctly faster if taught to do so in a direct and systematic way.

Item response theory (IRT)
Item Response Theory is the study of test item scores based on assumptions concerning the mathematical relationship between abilities (or other hypothesized traits) and item responses.

The name item response theory is due to the focus of the theory on individual test items (as opposed to the test-level focus of classical test theory), by modelling the response of an examinee of given ability to each item in the test. The term item is used because many test questions are not actually questions; they might be multiple choice questions that have incorrect and correct responses, but are also commonly statements on questionnaires that allow respondents to indicate level of agreement (a rating or Likert scale), or patient symptoms scored as present/absent. IRT is based on the idea that the probability of a correct/keyed response to an item is a mathematical function of person and item parameters. The person parameter is called latent trait or ability; it may, for example, represent a person's intelligence or the strength of an attitude. Item parameters include difficulty (location), discrimination (slope or correlation), and pseudoguessing (lower asymptote).

Key Learning Areas (KLA)
The Commonwealth of Australia’s Ministerial Council on Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs (MCEECDYA) stated that the key learning areas in the 2008 Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians are;

  • The Arts
  • English
  • Health and Physical Education
  • Languages Other Than English (LOTE)
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Studies of Society and Environment
  • Technology

Kinesthetic learner
Student learns by carrying out a physical activity or tactile contact, rather than listening to a lecture or merely watching a demonstration. (See also learning styles, auditory, kinaesthetic, modality, tactile, verbal, visual)

Language comprehension
This term should refer to understanding language in any of its forms, but in the vernacular, it has come to be synonymous with listening comprehension. When people use the term "language comprehension," they are typically not referring to sign language, written language, semaphore or smoke signals. Typically, the term is reserved for describing the understanding of spoken language.

Language experience approach (LEA)

  • An approach to language learning in which students' oral compositions are transcribed and used as materials of instruction for reading, writing, speaking, and listening; experience approach.
  • A curriculum that emphasizes the interrelationship of such modes of language experience.

Language-learning Disorder LLD(Or Language-Based Learning Disability)
A language learning disability is a disorder that may affect the comprehension and use of spoken or written language as well as nonverbal language, such as eye contact and tone of voice, in both adults and children. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has detailed information about language based learning disabilities at: http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/lbld.htm

Languages other than English (LOTE)
LOTE is a program to teach a second language to primary and secondary school students. Schools are expected to provide Languages other than English from Prep to Year 10. A quality program offers classes for 150 minutes per week taught by a qualified LOTE teacher.

Learned Helplessness
Learners who acquire a tendency to become passive, depending on others for decisions and guidance demonstrate learned helplessness. In individuals with LD, continued struggle and failure can heighten this lack of self-confidence. It is often attributed to over-zealous ‘support’ provided beyond the real needs of the learner.

Learning Difficulty
In Australia, the term learning difficulty is used to refer to students who experience significant difficulties in learning and making progress in school, but who do not have a documented disability such as an intellectual disability. Approximately 20 per cent of students are generally considered to have learning difficulties in one or more areas of learning.  Most learning difficulties (approximately 80 per cent) are in the area of reading. Within the group of students with learning difficulties there is a smaller subset whose difficulties are more severe and long-lasting, and these students are sometimes described as having a learning disability. However, unlike the situation in the United States, where the category of students with a learning disability is clearly defined for purposes of funding through the US Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA), the term learning disability has no precise definition in Australia. It should also be noted that the terms learning difficulty and learning disability are now commonly used in the UK to refer to individuals whose primary disability is an intellectual disability.  (For an overview of the use of the terms learning difficulty and learning disability in Australia, see Graham and Bailey, Learning Disabilities and Difficulties: An Australian Conspectus – Introduction to the Special Series, Journal of Learning Disabilities  Volume 40 (5), 386-391.)
Learning Disability (LD)
The term learning disability originated in the United States, and is associated with a medical rather than an educational approach to the conceptualization of learning problems.  For the purposes of funding under the US Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA), a learning disability is defined as ‘a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations. This term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. This term does not include children who have learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities; mental retardation; or environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage’.  (See http://www.interdys.org/ewebeditpro5/upload/NJCLDValidityFullPaper.pdf for a recent position paper on the definition of learning disability and implications for policy and practice, issued by the US National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD) in February 2011.  The DDOLL website at http://www.maccs.mq.edu.au/ddoll/i_definitions.htm also provides useful information on types and characteristics of learning disabilities.)

Learning Modalities
Learning modalities refer to the visual, auditory and kinaesthetic / tactile paths through which we receive, process and store information. Students tend to have strengths and weaknesses among these modalities, meaning that they may learn more easily and/or efficiently through instruction that emphasises that student’s preferred modality, as can be identified through assessment.

Learning Strategy Approaches
Instructional approaches that focus on efficient ways to learn, including specific techniques for organizing, actively interacting with material, memorising, and monitoring any content or subject.

Learning Styles
Learning styles generally refer to various approaches or ways of learning emphasizing the variations in temperament, attitude, and preferred manner of receiving and processing information, and tackling a task. Assessment and instruction may consider styles along the active/passive, reflective/impulsive, or verbal/spatial dimensions

Learning Styles (see Individual Learning Styles)
(See also learning styles, auditory, kinaesthetic, modality, tactile, verbal, visual)

Learning to learn (also Metacognition)
Knowing about knowing, e.g. knowing when and where to use particular strategies for learning or problem solving.  Some Educators advocate that since information becomes out-dated but knowing how to access information doesn’t, teachers should not waste time teaching facts but should focus on the skill of learning. However, facts and domain-specific information are a requirement for metacognitive strategies.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
The American Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that all children with disabilities must be educated in the least restrictive environment (LRE) that is appropriate for them. The spirit of this requirement is to ensure that children are not unnecessarily removed from the regular classroom or isolated from other non-disabled children of their age. LRE decisions are made based on children's learning needs and vary from child to child.

See: http://learningdisabilities.about.com/od/publicschoolprograms/a/leastrestrictiv.htm

Less is more
Preferring depth over breadth.

"In most cases, the balance between depth and breadth is a subject of a complex judgment that takes into account subject matter, the purpose, and the stage of schooling." ED Hirsch.

Letter recognition
The ability to name a letter when shown the symbol or to find the symbol that goes with a letter name.

Letter-sound correspondence
The association of a letter with a speech sound. A child who can say or write the correct letter(s) for a speech sound is said to understand letter-sound correspondence.

Lifelong learning
Learning that is not confined to classroom schooling but continues over an individual’s lifetime is usually described as lifelong, lifewide, voluntary, and self-motivated. The essential first step in lifelong learning is developing the metacognitive strategies of recognizing, monitoring and evaluating learning strategies.

In schools, progressive Educators believe that transferable, lifelong competencies arise naturally from holistic, integrated activities, whereas traditional Educators believe that they depend on the accumulation of facts, general knowledge and vocabulary.

Linguistic phonics
Linguistic phonics is a term that has been used to describe programs that approach the teaching of beginning reading by focusing first on converting sounds to letters (encoding, as in spelling) rather than on converting letters to sounds (decoding, as in reading).  Examples of programs based on linguistic phonics as defined above are the Phono-Graphix program, the Sounds-Write program,  and the linguistic phonics program developed by the Belfast Education and Library Board. These programs are contrasted with traditional or synthetic phonics programs, where the focus is on teaching the letters and the sounds associated with letters or combinations of letters, and then sounding out letters to produce words. However, following McGuiness, the term is also used interchangeably with the term synthetic phonics to describe programs that focus on systematic teaching of the 40+ sounds of the English language, together with their most common or likely spellings, as well as alternative spellings.

Listening comprehension
Understanding intended meaning from spoken language. Listening comprehension, as with reading comprehension, can be described in "levels" -- lower levels of listening comprehension would include understanding only the facts explicitly stated in a spoken passage that has very simple syntax and uncomplicated vocabulary. Advanced levels of listening comprehension would include implicit understanding and drawing inferences from spoken passages that feature more complicated syntax and more advanced vocabulary. Accurate listening comprehension is a valid predictor of language comprehension in general and should be assessed in different contexts, especially when reading comprehension skills are poor, indicating that most probably weak decoding skills are the cause of poor reading comprehension, not general intellectual ability or lack of prior knowledge.

The ability to read and write is the Oxford Dictionary definition of literacy.

Literacy (expanded definition)
The ability to read, write and use written language appropriately in a range of contexts, for different purposes, and to communicate with a variety of audiences. ‘Reading and writing, when integrated with speaking, listening, viewing and critical thinking, constitute valued aspects of literacy in modern life’ (DEETYA, 1998, p. 7). In the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), reading literacy is defined as the ability to understand, use and reflect on written texts in order to achieve one’s goals, to develop one’s knowledge and potential, and to participate effectively in society (Lokan, Greenwood & Cresswell, 2001).

A logographic writing system is when each spoken word in the language is represented by a unique symbol. Chinese is an example of a logographic writing system.

With the 'look and say' beginning reading method, children learn to recognize whole words or sentences rather than individual sounds. In the 1830’s, the director of the American Asylum described a method of teaching the deaf to read by juxtaposing a picture with a word. He described teaching children to read a total of fifty words written on cards by sight.

The method was adopted by the Boston Primary School Committee and it soon became the dominant method state-wide. By 1844, however, the defects of the new method became apparent to Boston schoolmasters, who issued an attack against it, urging a return to an intensive, systematic phonics. Dr. Samuel T. Orton, a neuropathologist in Iowa, in 1929 sought the cause of children's reading problems and concluded that their problems were being caused by the new sight method of teaching reading. (His results were published in the February 1929 issue of the Journal of Educational Psychology, “The Sight Reading Method of Teaching Reading as a Source of Reading Disability.”)

Low-progress reader
Low-progress readers are identified as the bottom 25 per cent of students who struggle with reading.  This group includes students who have deficits in phonological processing skills leading to a reliance on compensatory visual and contextual strategies, as well as students whose difficulties in learning to read are associated with ineffective teaching of initial reading (the instructional casualties), and students with a generally low level of intellectual functioning whose difficulties with reading are part of a general pattern of low achievement in all areas of learning.

Mainstream is a term that refers to the ordinary classroom that almost all children attend. Accommodations may be made for children with disabilities, learning difficulties, or who are English language learners, as part of the general educational program.

Mainstreaming refers to the practice of educating students with special needs in regular classes.

See: Students with Disabilities in Mainstream Classrooms: A resource for teachers v.
Acknowledgements www.dest.gov.au/...education/.../learning_outcomes_students_disabilities_resource_pdf.htm

Mastery Level
The cut-off score on a criterion-referenced or mastery test at which or above people are considered to have mastered the material. However, mastery may be an arbitrary judgment.

Mastery Test
A test that determines whether an individual has mastered a unit of instruction or skill; a test that provides information about what an individual knows, not how his or her performance compares to the norm group.

Matthew Effect
Borrowed from a line in the Bible's Book of Matthew -- the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. In reading, this describes the difference between good readers and poor readers -- while good readers gain new skills very rapidly, and quickly move from "learning to read" to "reading to learn," poor readers become increasingly frustrated with the act of reading, and try to avoid reading when possible. The gap is relatively narrow when the children are young, but rapidly widens as children grow older.

A mean score is the arithmetical average; the sum of individual scores divided by the total number of scores.

Meaning-emphasis approach
Method of teaching beginning reading that emphasizes comprehending, not decoding.

The median is a measure of central tendency where half the scores are above and half below, the middle score in a distribution or set of ranked scores; the point (score) that divides a group into two equal parts; the 50th percentile. Half the scores are below the median, and half are above it.

Memory and learning
Working memory, our mental work space, is where we process, manipulate and store information over a short period of time. Effective working memory supports learning, especially in the early childhood years from 4-14, and is central to successful learning. There is a wide range in the span of children’s working memory ability and capacity.

There are multiple and interacting cognitive and neural systems - sensory, motor, visuo-spatial, and verbal / language - that feed working memory, with strong connections between sensory perception and memory.  Different kinds of memory include:

  • Procedural memory – the first memory to develop when learning skills, mostly motor, which become automatic and once learned are for life e.g. writing, riding a bike
  • Autobiographic memory – stored facts and sequences of life events
  • Episodic memory – details of particular experiences of recent past, into the present - allows conscious recall. Explicit memory which encodes factual knowledge.
  • Semantic memory – for facts and knowledge which become representational and can be learned for life if used sufficiently frequently, but has varying rates of acquisition. Semantic memory or long term memory (also called implicit memory), is the most intact secure memory system, and is responsible for skills and habits which once learned, do not consciously have to be recalled.

A goal of learning is achieving the episodic to semantic shift - turning explicit memories into implicit memories. Poor working memory is a reliable predictor of learning difficulties in both reading and numeracy with 80% of children who experience poor working memories failing to succeed at expected levels of achievement. (Gathercole & Alloway, 2008)

For more information for teachers and parents, including the characteristics of children with poor working memory, see Professor Susan Gathercole, University of York and Director of the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at Cambridge at: http://www.york.ac.uk/res/wml/Info parents and teachers.html
To view working memory research see: http://www.york.ac.uk/res/wml/projects.html

“Metacognition, thinking about thinking or being aware of the type of thinking that one is using, refers to higher order thinking that involves active control over the thinking processes involved in learning.  Activities such as planning how to approach a given learning task, monitoring comprehension, and evaluating progress toward the completion of a task are metacognitive in nature. Because metacognition plays a critical role in successful learning it is important for both students and teachers. Metacognition has been linked with intelligence and it has been shown that those with greater metacognitive abilities tend to be more successful thinkers.”
See http://www.hent.org/world/rss/files/metacognition.htm

Metacognitive Learning
Instructional approaches emphasizing awareness of the cognitive processes that facilitate one's own learning and its application to academic and work assignments. Typical metacognitive techniques include systematic rehearsal of steps or conscious selection among strategies for completing a task.

Language and terminology used to describe language and the component parts of language, or more broadly, the study of the interrelationship between language and other cultural behaviour.

Mind Mapping  (also word map)
Mind, or concept mapping involves writing down a central idea and thinking up new and related ideas which radiate out from the centre. By focussing on key ideas written down in your own words, and then looking for branches out and connections between the ideas, you are mapping knowledge in a manner which will help you understand and remember new information. For more information see: http://www.jcu.edu.au/tldinfo/learningskills/mindmap/howto.html

Minimal Brain Dysfunction (MBD)
A medical and psychological term originally used to refer to the learning difficulties that seemed to result from identified or presumed damage to the brain. Reflects a medical, rather than educational or vocational orientation

Miscue (also reading miscue)
The term used by K.S. Goodman (1965) to describe errors in reading and/or comprehending text. Goodman assumes that miscues are not random errors, but are attempts by the reader to make sense of text. Thus, errors, especially any error pattern(s), provide rich information for analysing language and reading development. - An inventory, based on samples of children’s oral reading, to analyse recorded errors to then assess how the child comprehends what is being read.

Typically, there are 6 basic miscues to note from oral reading:

  • Correction -  the child realises the error and re-reads without prompting
  • Insertion – while reading, the child inserts a word or two not in the text
  • Omission – the child leaves out a word(s)
  • Repetition – the child repeats a word or portion of the text
  • Reversal – the order of a word or print, will be reversed
  • Substitution – instead of reading the printed word, a different word is inserted

Miscue Analysis (also Running Record)
A Miscue Analysis is an individualised assessment that provides in-depth information about what strategies a reader is using and helps to identify areas that need attention for reading to develop. It is sometimes called a Reading-with-Understanding Running Record.

Dictionary definition
1. the condition of being modal
2. a quality, attribute, or circumstance that denotes mode, mood, or manner
3. (Philosophy / Logic) Logic the property of a statement of being classified under one of the concepts studied by modal logic, esp necessity or possibility
4. (Medicine) any physical or electrical therapeutic method or agency
5. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Physiology) any of the five senses
Collins English Dictionary

Modality (also Learning Modality)
Modality, as utilised in schools, may focus on identifying relevant stimuli that may influence learning and manipulating the school environment, or varying teaching strategies. This approach may attempt to identify individual talents or aptitudes, understanding how people's personality affects the way they interact personally, and how this affects the way individuals respond to each other within the learning environment.

The most common learning modalities are;

  • Visual: learning based on observation and seeing what is being learned.
  • Auditory: learning based on listening to instructions/information.
  • Kinesthetic: learning based on hands-on work and engaging in activities.

It is claimed that, depending on their preferred learning modality, different teaching techniques have different levels of effectiveness. A consequence of this theory is that effective teaching should present a variety of teaching methods which cover all three learning modalities so that different students have equal opportunities to learn in a way that is effective for them.  (See also learning styles, auditory, kinaesthetic, modality, tactile, verbal, and visual)

Statistically speaking, the mode is the score or value that occurs most often in a distribution. The most frequent score.

1.    Changes in the presentation of content, format, and/or administration of a test to accommodate test takers (with special needs.) who are unable to take the test under standard test conditions. Modifications are not meant to alter what the test is designed to measure or the comparability of scores.
2.    Strategies to help equalise access to the curriculum and assessment such as changing the presentation of material (e.g. reading material to a child instead of having them read it themselves), aspects of the environment (e.g. going to different room or using a reading carrel), or time demands (e.g. increasing allowed time or segmenting the test/assignment into periods), for those students with special learning needs.

A morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit of language. A morpheme can be one syllable (book) or more than one syllable (seventeen). It can be a whole word or a part of a word such as a prefix or suffix. For example, the word ungrateful contains three morphemes: un, grate, and ful.

Multi-aged classrooms
Classrooms grouped by ability not age. Advocated by Educators who believe this allows students to learn at their own pace. In schools where standards have been established based on core content that builds cumulatively, multi-aged classrooms become redundant. In schools where the learning groups contain disproportionate numbers of older disadvantaged, low socio-economic and minority students, then multi-aged classrooms reflect the school’s acceptance of slow-progress for these students and results in further perpetuation of social unfairness.

The four cueing systems, Grapho-phonemic, Syntactic, Semantic and Pragmatic, are used in language development and are important for communication. We use all four systems simultaneously as we speak, listen, read, and write.

“Cope and Kalanstzis (2000), describe multiliteracies as a word which was chosen by the New London Group who recognised that literacy pedagogy was changing rapidly in our global world.
The term 'multiliteracies' was coined to describe what constitutes literacy in today's world. Literacy has in the past been 'centred on language' but with the introduction and use of new technologies and visual texts into school literacies and home literacies, we now encounter, use and interpret multiple kinds of literacies which are embedded in multimodal texts...
The New London Group developed a theory which includes six elements of design in the
meaning-making process. These elements of design recognise many different kinds of literacy which stand alone, and also combine into multimodal texts. These texts are expressed through the visual medium, through different media and in different social contexts.

The six design elements are:

 “... Meaning making now involves being able to “read” not only print text but also colour, sound, movement, and visual representations...”. Source: http://www.readingonline.org/international/inter_index.asp?HREF=turbill4/index.html.

Multiple intelligences
Howard Gardiner’s theory is that there are seven domains of intelligence; linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal. These claims are not supported by mainstream research in psychology. Furthermore, Gardener’s ‘intelligences’ are highly subjective and there is no evidence that teachers are able to objectively identify and teach to these intelligences in students.

Multiple learning styles (See Individual learning styles)
(See also learning styles, auditory, kinaesthetic, modality, tactile, VAK, verbal, visual)

Multisensory approach
A multisensory approach advocates instructional strategies that integrate use of students’ senses, including touch and movement. It is thought that practice to mastery can be facilitated by using a variety of multisensory materials and activities requiring use of the same skills and concepts, to vary practice and encourage independent function which can then often be generalised across contexts.

Multisensory Structured Language Education
‘Multisensory’ in MSSL programs, is not a casual reference to including things to see, hear and touch. It means that visual, auditory, and kinesthetic/tactile learning pathways are integrated, in every lesson, throughout the program. The International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council (IMSLEC) evaluates programs to determine whether they meet their rigorous criteria. 

From the original Orton-Gillingham method, many variations have been developed. Some of the modified Orton-Gillingham methods written by Orton students are The Slingerland Method, The Spalding Method, Project Read, Alphabetic Phonics, The Herman Method, and The Wilson Method. Other works included in which the authors of the programs used the tenets of Orton's work, but were not directly trained by Orton-Gillingham personnel are The Alphabetic- Phonetic- Structural -Linguistic approach to Literacy (Shedd), Sequential English Education (Pickering), and Starting Over (Knight). The Association Method (DuBard), and the Lindamood-Bell Method (Lindamood -Bell) have as their basis the research into hearing impaired and the language impaired individuals. For more information, see; http://www.readingrockets.org/article/6332 

Multisensory Structured Language Education/Multisensory Learning
Multisensory learning is an instructional approach that combines auditory, visual, and tactile elements into a learning task. Tracing sandpaper numbers while saying a number fact aloud would be a multisensory learning activity. It is an educational approach that uses visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic-tactile cues simultaneously to enhance memory and learning. Links are consistently made between the visual (what we see), auditory (what we hear), and kinaesthetic-tactile (what we feel) pathways in learning to read and spell.

Naming Speed
Naming speed, or Rapid Automatised Naming (RAN), is one predictor of future dyslexia.

A RAN Test consists of naming an array of objects, colours, letters or symbols as quickly as possible. The rapid naming of just letters and numbers is called Rapid Alphanumeric Naming.  Research by Lervag and Hulme (Psychological Science 2009) found, in a longitudinal study, that speed in naming pictures of objects and colour patches also predicts future reading skill.

See: http://wordresearch.liviablackburne.com/2010/01/color-and-object-naming-speed-predicts.html

For a study on Rapid Naming and Phonological Processing as Predictors of Reading and Spelling and many research references, see:http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Rapid+naming+and+phonological+processing+as+predictors+of+reading+and...-a0197363398

National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy
On 30 November 2004 the then Minister for Education, Science and Training, the Hon Dr Brendan Nelson MP, announced details about the Australian Government National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy. The Inquiry was a broad, independent examination of reading research, teacher preparation and practices for the teaching of literacy, particularly reading. See: http://www.dest.gov.au/nitl/report.htm

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
The NICHD is one of the US National Institutes of Health that it is concerned with child health and well-being. In 1997, the NICHD and the US Department of Education formed the National Reading Panel to review research on how children learn to read and to determine which methods of teaching reading are most effective based on the research evidence.
The NICHD provides direct support for clinical research that examines LDs affecting oral language abilities related to reading and writing, basic reading skills, reading fluency, reading comprehension, and written expression.  http://www.nichd.nih.gov

National Institutes of Health (NIH)
The NIH is an important funding body for medical research in the US, and is the major funder of evidence-based research on beginning reading.  Administratively under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the NIH consists of over 20 separate Institutes and Centers. http://www.nih.gov

National Literacy Strategy
The UK Department of Children and Families National Literacy Strategy (NLS) promoted the teaching of reading in its broadest sense from the beginning of a child's education. This includes decoding, comprehension, grammatical understanding and a more general experience of different books and texts. In the NLS scheme, none of these aspects is given priority at any particular time in a child's acquisition of reading. For example, when a child learning to read encounters a word he or she does not know, the child is encouraged to 'work out' the word either by inferring from narrative context or syntax, by sounding out the word or by recognising the shape of the word from a previous encounter. This approach has been termed the '3 Searchlights' model (see Three Searchlights)

National percentile rank
A national percentile rank indicates the relative standing of one child when compared with all the others in the same grade or norming group; percentile ranks range from a low score of 1 to a high score of 99. The national percentile represents the percentage of students in the national norm group that scored below a given student’s score. For example, a student whose national percentile score is 70, scored higher than 70% of the students in the norm group. NAPLAN, the Australian National assessment tests give national percentile among its results.

National Reading Panel (NRP)
A United States government body formed in 1997 at the request of Congress, it was a national panel with the stated aim of assessing the effectiveness of different approaches used to teach children to read. The panel was created by Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the National Institutes of Health, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, and included prominent experts in the fields of reading education, psychology, and higher education.

In April 2000, the panel issued its report, "Teaching Children to Read," and completed its work. The report summarized research in eight areas relating to literacy instruction: phonemic awareness instruction, phonics instruction, fluency instruction, vocabulary instruction, text comprehension instruction, independent reading, computer assisted instruction, and teacher professional development.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
Neuro-Linguistic Programming is a controversial approach to psychotherapy and organizational change based on "a model of interpersonal communication chiefly concerned with the relationship between successful patterns of behaviour and the subjective experiences (esp. patterns of thought) underlying them" and "a system of alternative therapy based on this which seeks to educate people in self-awareness and effective communication, and to change their patterns of mental and emotional behaviour". The VAK (visual/auditory/.kinesthetic) learning styles theory is thought to have derived from NLP.

 “NLP singularly fails to stand up to scrutiny concerning its face validity and its construct validity. NLP’s predictive validity is more difficult to ascertain as proponents of the ‘discipline’ engage in academic goal-post shifting and arguments about its ‘constructivist’ nature. Claims about what NLP can and do persist though and as such it is analogous to Bertrand Russell’s celestial teapot with the burden of proof to support its theoretical foundations and efficacy as an intervention lying with its proponents … NLP masquerades as a legitimate form of psychotherapy, makes unsubstantiated claims about how humans think and behave, purports to encourage research in a vain attempt to gain credibility, yet fails to provide evidence that it actually works. Neuro-linguistic programming is cargo cult psychology.” (Roderique-Davies, 2009)  (see VAK)

The medical specialty concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the nervous system - the brain, the spinal cord, and the nerves.

Neuropsychological Examination
A series of tasks that allow observation of performance that is presumed to be related to the intactness of brain function. They usually include tests of intellectual function as well as information processing.

The basic scientific discipline that studies the structure and function of the brain related to specific psychological processes and overt behaviours.
It is one of the more eclectic of the psychological disciplines, overlapping at times with areas such as neuroscience, philosophy, neurology, psychiatry and computer science (particularly by making use of artificial neural networks)).

Paediatric Neuropsychology
The emphasis in paediatric neuropsychologyis the study and understanding of brain-behaviour relationships, specifically in children with known or suspected brain injury, neurodevelopment disorders, learning disorders, or other congenital disorders.

Non-categorical approach (to reading difficulty)
A non-categorical approach to reading difficulty focuses on the student's current level of functioning and the teaching strategies required to assist the student to improve his or her reading skills, rather than on spending time diagnosing the cause of the difficulty and attaching a label, such as dyslexia, before any help can be provided.  This approach is based on the assumption that all children can learn if the instruction is effective, and that separating or categorising students into subgroups, such as dyslexia or ADHD, does not provide educators with any useful information in terms of instruction. 

Nonverbal Learning Disability (NVLD)
NVLD is a neurological disorder which originates in the right hemisphere of the brain. Reception of nonverbal or performance-based information governed by this hemisphere is impaired in varying degrees, causing problems with visual-spatial, intuitive, organizational, evaluative, and holistic processing functions.
Learning disabilities characterized by problems concerning visual-spatial, intuitive and organizational tasks that cause difficulty with interpreting social cues (such as body language, facial expressions and intended or non-intended humour)and understanding cause-and-effect relationships, among other issues.


  • In sociology, a culturally relative guideline for social behaviour.
  • In testing, a statistical measure of central tendency.

Normal distribution curve
A distribution of scores used to scale a test. Normal distribution, or Bell Curve, is a bell-shaped curve with most scores in the middle and a small number of scores at the low and high ends. The normal distribution can be completely described by the mean (which is zero) and standard deviation (which is the amount scores deviate from the mean). By knowing the mean and standard deviation of a set of data, then one can know every access point in the data set.
In general, the normal distribution rule states that 68% of the data will fall within one standard deviation from the mean, 95% will fall within two standard deviations of the mean, and 99.7% will fall between three standard deviations of the mean.

Normally Distributed
A data set that is statistically symmetrical around an average, represented graphically by a bell curve. In a perfectly normal distribution, the mean, median and mode are all equal.

Measurement is compared to a norm or average. IQ tests are norm-referenced tests.

Norm-referenced Assessment
Norm-referenced assessment compares an individual child's score against the scores of other children who have previously taken the same assessment. With a norm-referenced assessment, the child's raw score can be (is usually) converted into a comparative (standard) score such as a percentile rank or a stanine for comparison.

Norm-referenced tests
Standardized tests designed to compare the scores of children to scores achieved by children the same age who have taken the same test. They are designed to discriminate among groups of students, and allow comparisons across years, grade levels, schools, and other variables.

Occupational Therapy (OT)
Occupational therapy is concerned with promoting health and well being through occupation. The primary goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life. Occupational therapists achieve this outcome by enabling people to do things that will enhance their ability to participate or by modifying the environment to better support participation.

Occupational therapy is practiced in a wide range of settings, including hospitals, health centres, homes, workplaces and schools. Services include assessment, treatment and consultation. Occupational therapists who work with children look at the relationship between the child and the tasks they need to perform in self-care, play and at school, and an array of external or environmental factors. Services can include helping a student with pencil grip, physical exercises that may be used to increase strength and dexterity, or exercises to improve hand-eye coordination.

See:  the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT), 004.http://www.ausot.com.au

One size fits all
The use of group instruction to achieve common learning goals.

Onset And Rime
Onsets and rimes are parts of monosyllabic words in spoken language. These units are smaller than syllables but may be larger than phonemes. An onset is the initial consonant sound of a syllable (the onset of bag is b-; of swim is sw-). The rime is the part of a syllable that contains the vowel and all that follows it (the rime of bag is -ag; of swim is -im).

Onset-rime Phonics Instruction
In this approach, students learn to break monosyllabic words into their onsets (consonants preceding the vowel) and rimes (vowel and following consonants). They read each part separately and then blend the parts to say the whole word.

Onset-rime Segmentation
Onset-rime segmentation is separating a word into the onset, the consonant(s) at the start of a syllable, and the rime, the remainder of the syllable. For example, in swift, sw is the onset and ift is the rime.

Open classroom
Instruction and activities are informally structured, flexible, and individualized and take place in ‘open-plan’ learning areas where teachers move from group to group offering help if required. Despite having been proven ineffective, the concept of the open classroom is enjoying resurgence, especially in Victoria. For more information, see; The Open Classroom, by Larry Cuban, professor emeritus of education at Stanford University. Education Next, Spring 2004 / Vol. 4, No. 2, Group Seating in Primary Schools: an indefensible strategy?, Nigel Hastings & Karen Chantrey Wood
Nottingham Trent University Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the British Educational Research Association, University of Exeter, England, 12-14 September 2002

An activity or question that does not have one specific solution or answer, that allows for divergent thinking, is said to be open-ended.

Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)
An ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behaviour toward authority figures which goes beyond the bounds of typical childhood behaviour.

Oral Language Difficulties
A person with oral language difficulties may exhibit poor articulation, vocabulary, listening comprehension, or grammatical abilities and/or skill(s) for his or her age.

Orthographic knowledge
Orthographic knowledge understands that the speech sounds in a language are represented by written or printed symbols, associated with spelling, but also knowledge of hyphenation, capitalization, word breaks and punctuation.

A multisensory phonetically based approach to remediating dyslexia created by Dr. Samuel Orton, a neuropsychiatrist and pathologist, and Anna Gillingham, an educator and psychologist, built upon the typical and consistent sound / symbol relationships in English.

Outcomes Based Education (OBE)
An education model which focuses on student learning (outcomes). Students are required to demonstrate that they "know and are able to do" whatever the required outcomes are. Largely influenced byUS academic, William Spady, OBE has been widely adopted in Australia.
While OBE does not specifically require any particular teaching method, in practice OBE usually encourages constructivist pedagogy. Proponents of OBE argue that it promises that all students will perform at least as well as the stated standards, regardless of ability, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and gender.
Critics of OBE argue that standards are set to the minimum level achievable by the weakest students and that it is not possible to accurately gauge student performance for the purpose of competitive entry to University courses; and it requires a massive increase in teacher’s paperwork.

Out-of-Level Testing
Out-of-level testing is the practice of assessing students in one grade level using versions of tests that were designed for students in other (usually lower) grade levels.

The speed at which content is presented and instruction delivered. Pacing which matches the student's rate of learning is optimal.

Paired Reading
Two students read either out loud or silently together and discuss what they have read with each other.

Pedagogy is the art or science, study of teaching; the principles and practice of educational instructional methods, or the interrelationship between teacher practice and student outcomes (Lingard, 2000).  Pedagogy seeks to address the process of production and exchange between teacher, learner, and the knowledge jointly produced. (McWilliam, 1994)

Also see: http://www.educ.utas.edu.au/users/ilwebb/Research/pedagogy.htm

Peer Group
Contemporaries of the same status by which most or all members have roughly the same characteristics such as age, class, education, community, merit, rank and (or) standing.

Percentiles or percentile ranks
Percentage of scores that fall above or below a point on a score distribution; for example, a score at the 75th percentile indicates that 75% of students obtained that score or lower.

Perceptual Handicap
A perceptual handicap causes difficulty in accurately perceiving or discriminating, processing or organizing visual, auditory, or tactile information. The rate of development and learning depend upon the necessary integration and interdependence of processing sensory information. A person with a perceptual handicap may say that "cap/cup" sound the same or that "b" and "d" look the same. However, the need of using glasses or hearing aids does not necessarily indicate a perceptual handicap.

Performance Standards
Definitions of what a child must do to demonstrate proficiency at specific content and/or skill levels.

Phonemes are the smallest units of sound that change the meanings of spoken words. For example, if you change the first phoneme in bat from /b/ to /p/, the word bat changes to pat. English has about 41-44 phonemes. A few words, such as a or oh, have only one phoneme. Most words have more than one phoneme. The word if has two phonemes /i/ and /f/.

Phonemic awareness
Phonemic awareness is the ability to notice, think about, and work with and manipulate the individual sounds in spoken words. An example of how beginning readers show us they have phonemic awareness is combining or blending the separate sounds of a word to say the word ("/c/ /a/ /t/ - cat.")

Phonics is a form of instruction to cultivate the understanding and use of the alphabetic principle, that there is a predictable relationship between phonemes (the sounds in spoken language) and graphemes, the letters that represent those sounds in written language and that this information can be used to read or decode words.

“Phonics is not a method of teaching reading; it's a body of knowledge consisting of 26 letters used to symbolize 44 English speech sounds. There are about 70 most common spellings for these speech sounds.” (The National Right to Read Foundation)

“The term ‘phonics’ derives from the Roman text, The Doctrine of Littera which states that a letter (littera) consists of a sound (potestas), a written symbol (figura) and a name (nomen). This relation between word sound and form is the backbone of traditional phonics.” (Wikipedia)

The Essence of Phonics by Dr. Patrick Groff

For parents who may not understand what phonics information is, this may give them confidence they can teach it. The essence of what you need to know to teach phonics information can be expressed "on the back of an envelope": http://www.nrrf.org/32_essence_of.html. See also: Analogy-based phonics, Analytic phonics, Embedded phonics, Onset-rime phonics instruction, Synthetic phonics, Systematic and explicit phonics instruction.

Phonograms are a succession of letters that represent the same phonological / sound unit in different words, such as IGHT in FLIGHT, MIGHT and TIGHT. Phonograms rhyme.

Phonological awareness
Phonological awareness covers a range of understandings related to the sounds of words and word parts, including identifying and manipulating larger parts of spoken language such as words, syllables, and onsets and rimes. It also includes phonemic awareness as well as other aspects of spoken language such as rhyming and syllabication.

A word which is spelled the same as another word, but which sounds different when pronounced. For example, you can WIND a watch, and the WIND blows hard.

Socio-political theory that departed from the ‘modern’ scientific mentality developed during the 18th century’s Age of Enlightenment. Rejecting objective truth and global cultural narrative and emphasizing the role of language, power relations and motivations, post-modernism has influenced many cultural fields including literary criticism, linguistics, architecture and visual arts.
Postmodernists argue that there are no absolutes, knowledge is always tentative and shifting and that reality does not exist objectively, but is molded in accordance with our needs, interests, prejudices, and cultural traditions.

The postmodernist view of schools is that students from an early age should be helped to see how ideas and institutions are tailored to suit people’s values and interests and that knowledge is value dependent, culture dependent, and changeable. The classroom should be strongly democratic and dialogical, whereby the energies of students will be engaged, their values respected, and their insights made available to fellow students and to their teachers.
Some teachers and teacher-educators advocate a post-modernist approach in schools, whereby traditional content, teacher-directed instruction and objective testing is seen as endorsing hegemonic schooling structures and enabling modern power structures. They advocate the rejection of objective truth which they see as a constructed ideological position.
The opposing view in the so-called ‘Cultural War’ and ‘History War’ is that academic content in schools should be considered as factual, not constructed, and viewed as knowable, teachable and testable.

Precocity is characterised by development and/or maturity significantly earlier than is typical for age. Most gifted children show precocious intelligence, but not all who develop skills early are gifted: they may reach a plateau, allowing those of average ability to catch up.

A pre-test is given before instruction to determine current level of performance or achievement in a specific area.

Problem-solving skills
"In a narrow sense, it refers to the ability to solve problems in mathematics or other specialized fields. More broadly, it refers to a general resourcefulness and skill that will enable the student to solve various future problems ... Work on the problem-solving abilities of specialists like doctors, chess players, and physicists has shown consistently that the ability to solve problems is critically dependent upon a deep, well-practiced knowledge within the special domain, and that these problem solving abilities do not readily transfer from one domain to another ... In short, there seems to exist no abstract, generalized, teachable ability to solve problems in a diversity of domains. For schools to spend time teaching a general skill that does not exist is clearly a waste of resources, which illustrates the inherent shortcomings of the tool conception of education."
ED Hirsch, http://nychold.org/hirsch-termin.html#glossary.

A child prodigy (usually under age 10) is typically able to perform at an adult level in a specific skill. Unlike savants, prodigies often have high intelligence and are aware of their thinking strategies.

A graphic representation of a data set such as an individual’s scores on several tests or subtests, which allows for easy identification of strengths or weaknesses across different tests or subtests.

Accumulating student information, both formative and summative, to ensure a correct record is kept of his/her progress, used to inform appropriate programming for the student.

Progressive Education
Pedagogical movement loosely based on the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau which, under various guises and permutations, has dominated Western compulsory schooling since the late 19th century.

“If children understood how to reason they would not need to be educated.” –Rousseau, Emile.
Progressive ideology was advanced in the USA in the first half of the 20th century by John Dewey and has subsequently also incorporated ideas from Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, Lev Vygotsky’s work concerning the inter-relationship of language development and thought, and Paulo Freire’s critical pedagogy. The strongest example of a fully Progressive school is A.S. Neill’s Summerhill School in Suffolk, UK. 

The term, ‘Progressive’ was initially used to differentiate itself from the traditional preparation for University, being less concerned with academic content than with independent thinking, creative and manual arts,  and including all socio-economic levels. While the term Progressive is no longer commonly used, many of Progressive strategies still seem entrenched in mainstream schools.

Some of these include:

  • Projects and theme-based learning
  • Group and co-operative work
  • Prioristising so-called ‘higher order’ skills such as meaning-making and critical thinking over so-called ‘lower order’ skills such as decoding and rote learning.
  • Portfolio and teacher opinion assessment over standardized testing.

The original three tenets of Progressive education are; ‘child-centred schooling’, ‘teach the child
not the subject’ and ‘teach the whole child’.

  • Child-centred
  • Focusing on what the child wants and needs, allowing individuality and creativity, self-exploration and opportunities for self-development.
  • Teach the child, not the subject.
  • Attending to the emotional as well as academic needs of the child focusing on holistic teaching methods such as projects, in the belief that they both engage and educate the child. Reduced focus on the teaching of specific academic content can result in reducing student’s academic achievement.
  • Teach the whole child.
  • More humane schooling that nurtures and enhances the physical and emotional well-being of children, as well as enhance their civic and personal virtue by reducing focus on specific academic content in the belief that development of the whole child would automatically arise from holistic instruction. (See also, active, cooperative, constructivist, discovery, hands-on, holistic, inquiry, learning by doing, project, thematic)

Project method
Pedagogy advocated by Progressive Educators from the early 1900’s onwards that de-emphasises content-based, teacher-directed instruction in favour of holistic, real-life classroom projects based on student’s individual interests in order to develop flexible, critical thinking and deep learning. Objective testing of specific skills is rejected in favour of assessment based on the projects themselves. Criticism includes lack of practice at particular skills.  (See also, active, cooperative, constructivist, discovery, hands-on, holistic, inquiry, learning by doing, project, thematic)

A pseudoword, which when pronounced, sounds like a real, familiar word. For example, the pseudohomophone BRANE sounds like the real word BRAIN.

A pseudoword is pronounceable string of letters which has no meaning; also called invented words, nonsense words, or made-up words. For example, MIVIT, HEASE, and MIVE are all pronounceable, but don't mean anything. The degree of skill pronouncing nonsense words is a good indicator of automatic decoding skills and can also indicate error patterns to inform explicit teaching.

Psycholinguistic guessing game
Kenneth Goodman posited the existence of three "cueing systems" that regulate literacy development (graphophonemic, semantic, syntactic), related to the linguistic domains of phonetics, semantics, and syntax respectively. According to Goodman, these systems overlap and work in tandem to help readers "guess" appropriately. He emphasized that pronouncing individual words will involve the use of all three systems Goodman, K. (1967). Reading: A psycholinguistic guessing game. Journal of the Reading Specialist, 6, 126-135.

"To the fluent reader the alphabetic principle is completely irrelevant. He identifies every word (if he identifies words at all) as an ideogram."  (p.124) Smith, F. (1973). Psycholinguistics and reading. New York: Holt, Rhinehart, & Winston.

Psychometrics is the field of study concerned with the theory and technique of educational and psychological measurement such as the mental characteristics as in IQ, which includes the measurement of knowledge, abilities, attitudes, and personality traits. The field is primarily concerned with the construction and validation of measurement instruments, such as questionnaires, tests, and personality assessments.

A part-time special education program that takes like ability learners out of the mainstream class for specific instruction, for example, many primary gifted programs are periodic pull-out enrichment activities.

Rasch scaling
Rasch scaling is similar to IRT scaling, but there are some important differences in the way the link between the data and the model is conceptualised.  IRT assumes that the model should fit the data observed in research, while the Rasch perspective requires that the data should fit the model.  These differences affect the way in which the model on which the analysis is based is selected, and the way the data is handled and interpreted.  (See also Item Response Theory)

Raw score
A raw score is the number of questions answered correctly on a test or subtest. For example, if a test has 59 items and the student gets 23 items correct, the raw score would be 23. Raw scores are often converted to percentile ranks, standard scores, and grade equivalent and age equivalent scores.

Readability refers to an intended level of difficulty in a written passage. This depends on factors such as length of words, length of sentences, grammatical complexity and word frequency.

Reading is the process of converting written text to spoken language, and involves the two processes of decoding and comprehension (see Simple View of Reading).

Reading comprehension
Reading comprehension is the process of understanding what has been read. It depends on knowing the meaning of the words read (vocabulary), general knowledge about the context of what has been read, and prior knowledge. The ability to read words (as in decoding) does not necessarily ensure understanding if the words and context are unfamiliar to the reader (see the expanded definition of literacy).

Reading disability
A reading disability is a difficulty in learning to read which is assumed to be due to underlying neurological factors.  See also dyslexia.

Reading First
Reading First (2002-2008) was a US federal education program mandated under The No Child Left Behind Act, that focuses on putting "scientifically-based" methods of early reading instruction in classrooms utilising  proven instructional and assessment tools consistent with this research to ensure that all children learn to read well by the end of third grade. The three Reading First technical centres became the main source of teacher education and program evaluation on evidence-based beginning reading instruction. During the period that Reading First was funded, approximately 100,000 K–3 teachers received training and continuous professional development in reading science.
Understanding Reading First
What We Know, What We Don’t, and What’s Next
Corinne Herlihy, James Kemple, Howard Bloom, Pei Zhu, and Gordon Berlin

Reading Recovery
Reading Recovery (RR) is the registered trademark for an accelerated early intervention literacy learning program developed in the 1970s by Dr. Marie Clay, a New Zealand educator. RR is for children at risk in reading and writing progress after one year of schooling, providing one-to-one tutoring in 30-minute daily sessions for 12 to 16 weeks, from specialist RR trained teachers, for the lowest 10 to 20% of a first-grade class as identified by individual assessment measures and teacher evaluation. Once students demonstrate reading and writing skills at a level equivalent to that of their peers, their series of lessons is discontinued.

Children are taught that understanding is the ultimate goal of reading. RR teachers support children’s active use of these abilities while simultaneously making sense of what is read. However, many RR strategies, like those of Whole Language, teach that further learning comes through the use of multiple sources of information. Among multiple sources, for example, are pictures that accompany words children are attempting to read. As children approach words in text with which they are unfamiliar, they are encouraged to look at the first letters of words, glance at the pictures, and then "guess" what words might "make sense" within the context of story. Inaccurate naming of words is disregarded if they make "sense" within the context of print. Phonemic patterns are taught as they may happen to appear in text; hence the term incidental phonics teaching as opposed to explicitly taught systemic phonics.

Reading Recovery teachers participate in an apprenticeship style training program. They are supported by Reading Recovery Tutors who have undertaken a one-year full-time training program provided by Reading Recovery Trainers who are professional leaders in literacy who provide tertiary level training for tutors and guide the effective delivery of Reading Recovery across a school system.

For a critical research review of Reading Recovery, see Reading Recovery 20 Years Down the Track: Looking forward, looking back, by Meree Reynolds and Kevin Wheldall, International Journal of Disability, Development and Education Vol. 54, No. 2, June 2007, pp. 199, available at:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10349120701330503.

Receptive Language
Receptive language is the ability to comprehend vocabulary, directions, concepts and questions. Understanding language also involves attention, memory and sustained concentration. For a summary of characteristics of children with receptive language difficulties and how we can assist these children, see: www.therabee.com/images_web/receptive-language-jul08.pdf 

Reciprocal Teaching
Reciprocal teaching is a multiple-strategy instructional approach in the form of a dialogue between teachers and students regarding segments of text, for teaching comprehension skills. Teachers and students explore four strategies: asking questions about the text they are reading; summarizing parts of the text; clarifying words and sentences they don't understand; and predicting what might occur next in the text.

The reliability of a test reflects the consistency with which a test measures the area being tested; describing the extent to which a test is dependable, stable, and consistent when administered to the same individuals on different occasions; (actually I think this bit could be deleted - the accuracy and repeatability of a measurement.

Repeated and Monitored Oral Reading
In this instructional activity, students read and reread a text a certain number of times or until a certain level of fluency is reached. This technique has been shown to improve reading fluency and overall reading achievement. Four re-readings are usually sufficient for most students. Students may also practice reading orally through the use of audiotapes, tutors, peer guidance, or other means.

The common use of the term is to mean any gathering of data, information and facts for the advancement of knowledge.
The two main types of education research are Qualitative research which is descriptive in nature, and Quantitative research involves analysis of numerical data.

Resource Program
A program model in which a student eligible for special education services is in a regular classroom for most of each day, but also receives regularly scheduled services in a specialized resource classroom.

Response To Intervention (RTI)
RTI is the three-tiered approach to the provision additional learning support to students having difficulty with learning that offers increasingly intensive, research-based instruction and intervention(s) based on early identification of individual student’s progress. The RtI process begins with high-quality instruction and screening of all children in the general classroom. Progress is closely monitored to assess both the learning rate and level of performance.   Educational decisions about the intensity and duration of interventions are based on individual student response to instruction. RtI is designed for use when making decisions in both general and special education, creating a well-integrated system of instruction and intervention guided by child outcome data.  See: http://www.ldaustralia.org/304.html and http://www.rtinetwork.org/learn

The vowel and all that follows it in a monosyllabic word (the rime of bag is -ag; of swim is -im).

Romantic Modernism
Progressive, constructivist and post-modernist education philosophy are derivations of Romantic Modernism which calls for a return to the alleged innocence, freedom, equality, naturalism, and community of older times (Grossen, 1998; Hirsch, 1996, 2001; Rice, 2002; Stone, 1996). 

Following are core propositions of Romantic modernism:

  • The individual is naturally good.
  • The individual is naturally a moral being who will choose the right.
  • The individual is naturally able to construct knowledge—create concepts, propositions, moral principles, and other generalizations.
  • The individual is naturally spontaneous and creative; health depends on unstifled spontaneity.
  • Society is hierarchical, routinized, regimented. Its knowledge systems contain pre-formed concepts, propositions, values, and other generalizations.  Its systems of roles, statuses, norms, and obligations (in schools, families, religions, and political associations) constitute pre-formed identities, moral codes, and life courses.  In summary, society is naturally repressive; it inhibits the full development of the individual.  It is crippling.  It is the source of misery and of the perversion of natural goodness.

Rose Review
For the Independent review of the primary curriculum in England undertaken by Sir Jim Rose, see: https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/standard/publicationdetail/page1/DCSF-00499-2009

Rote learning
Rote learning requires memorising facts by repetition for quick recall, with or without comprehension, and can be useful for mastery of foundational knowledge, e.g., phonics in reading, multiplication tables in maths, the periodic table in chemistry and basic formulas in science. As comprehension is not a requirement of rote learning, used exclusively it is ineffective tool in mastering any complex subject at an advanced level.

Round Robin Reading (RRR)
Students take turns to read aloud while the rest of the group follows along silently reading from the same text. Variations include ‘Popcorn Reading’, where the teacher starts reading and after reading a few sentences, the teacher “popcorns” to a student chosen at random. This student must read a set minimum amount of text, perhaps two or three sentences before choosing another student to read by calling “popcorn” and naming another student. Another variation is ‘Combat Reading’ where readers actively work to catch other students on the wrong word or otherwise not reading along with the group. The idea is to keep students engaged so as not to get caught on the wrong word, page, or paragraph.

Running record
A cumulative written account of a student’s reading achievement, as noted by a teacher over time.  A method of assessing a student’s reading level by examining both accuracy and the types of errors made, (also a useful method of assessing spelling errors); it is often utilized in the first three years of primary schooling, as well as part of a Reading Recovery session.

A teaching strategy that firstly identifies the gap between what the student can perform or achieve independently and then what that student can perform or achieve with competent guided teacher / adult help or in collaboration with more capable peers. Independent levels of function are identified and the child is then challenged by the curriculum and instruction to where he/she will be, as opposed to limiting instruction by just meeting the child where he/she is now. The teacher provides support, e.g. of modeling, prompts, direct explanations, and targeted questions — offering a teacher-guided approach at first. As students begin to acquire mastery of targeted objectives, direct supports are reduced and the learning becomes more student-guided.
For a detailed description of scaffolding and instruction see: http://www.educ.utas.edu.au/users/ilwebb/Research/scaffolding.htm

Scaled score
Scaled scores represent approximately equal units on a continuous scale; facilitate conversions to other types of scores; and can be use to examine change in performance over time.

School Learning Support Team
Australian schools are meant to have a school learning support teams. A school learning support team co-ordinates planning and decision-making so that the educational needs of individual students are addressed by considering implications for school-wide planning including coordination of support resources within and outside the school, development of strategies for program planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, collaborative approaches to develop programs and support mechanisms for students with special learning needs.

The school learning support team is meant to: identify school needs, establish school priorities, training and development, coordinate resources (human and material), identify resource needs, assist in development of school LA policy, collaboratively plan to develop action plans with strategies to support students, and liaise with students, parents and outside agencies. For example, it is the school learning support team that identifies what additional learning support and/or special exam provisions should be provided for a student who may have a disability and/or learning difficulties such as for the National Assessment NAPLAN.

Members of the school learning support team include team facilitator (usually a school executive), school counsellor, teachers’ representatives, and specialist personnel.

For further information about School Learning Support Teams in New South Wales see:
Who's Going To Teach My Child
Information about services for students with disabilities in NSW Public Schools is contained in the publication Who's Going To Teach My Child: A Guide For Parents Of Students With Special Learning Needs (PDF 1.41MB).

In English, the midcentral vowel sound in an unaccented or unstressed syllable in words of more than one syllable; as the first vowel sound in alone or the ‘e’ in synthesis. It is sometimes signified by the pronunciation "uh". See also short vowel. The graphic symbol (_) commonly used in phonetic alphabets and pronunciation keys to represent such a vowel.

Scientifically based reading programs (also known as evidence based reading instruction)

The National Reading Panel found that the most effective way to teach all students to read is direct, explicit, intensive and systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. A summary of the panel's findings can be found at the University of Oregon Center on Teaching and Learning, Big Ideas in Beginning Reading, http://reading.uoregon.edu/big_ideas/.

Scotopic sensitivity syndrome
Also known as Irlen Syndrome, Meares-Irlen Syndrome and Visual Stress Syndrome,
Scotopic sensitivity syndrome is based on the theory that some individuals have hypersensitive photoreceptors, visual pathways, and/or brain systems that react inappropriately to physical energy (wavelengths). Vision occurs when energy is received by the retina's photoreceptors, initiating a biochemical process affecting the visual pathways and deep structures of the brain. A growing number of researchers are taking an interest in the view that inappropriate biochemical processing has the potential to cause physiological and/or visual perceptual problems. Many of these problems are grouped together under the label "scotopic sensitivity syndrome". 
While scotopic sensitivity syndrome has been related to reading difficulties and other conditions; the association between scotopic sensitivity syndrome and dyslexia has been challenged by many authors in both the optometric and ophthalmologic communities. For more information, see;
MUSEC Briefing Issue 22: Irlen Tinted Lenses and Overlays
American Academy of Ophthalmology (2009). Policy Statement: Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia and Vision. Retrieved 30th December 2009 from

In education, full-time placement in a special education classroom may be referred to as segregation. In this model, students with special needs spend no time in ordinary classes. Segregated students may attend the same school where regular classes are provided, but spend their time exclusively in a separate classroom.

Selective mutism
A communicative disorder in which a person, most often a child, who is normally capable of speech is unable to speak in given situations, or to specific people. Selective Mutism often co-exists with shyness or (often severe) social anxiety.

The development of specific skills and understandings that enable children and adults to explain, for example, their specific learning disabilitiesto others and to cope positively with the attitudes of peers, parents, teachers, and employers.

Self-efficacy refers to a person's personal belief in their capabilities to perform an action for specific outcomes.

Self-esteem is a person’s evaluation or appraisal of their own worth. An assumption is that a student’s high self-esteem will cause many positive outcomes and benefits, and that a healthy ego would result in high academic achievement. However, policies that focus on teacher’s praise regardless of student achievement have been found to create a disconnection between perceived self esteem and provable skill. There is strong evidence in the mainstream literature that enhanced self-esteem arises from accurate appraisals of a student's work, as well as realistic encouragement toward effort and actual achievement.

To self-monitor is the ability to observe yourself and know when you are achieving or according to a standard. For example, knowing if you do or do not understand what you are reading, or whether your voice tone is appropriate for the circumstances or too loud or too soft.

Semantic Maps
A semantic map is a strategy for graphically representing concepts. As a strategy, semantic maps involve expanding a student's vocabulary by encouraging new links to familiar concepts. Instructionally, semantic maps can be used as a prereading activity for charting what is known about a concept, theme, or individual word. They can also be used during reading as a way to assimilate new information learned from the text.

Semantic Organizers
Semantic (or Graphic) Organisers can take many forms and consist of visual diagrams that assist the presentation of information. They may be used to assist reading comprehension or to organise ideas in preparation for writing, and for both functions may be of assistance to students with learning difficulties. Graphic organisers include semantic webs or mind maps, Venn diagrams, story maps and story boards, retrieval charts and flow charts.

Sensory Integration
Sensory integration refers to a multisensory therapeutic approach to instruction which emphasizes the systematic utilization of proprioceptive, tactile, visual, auditory and motor experiences and functions in order to increase basic skills and perceptual tolerance.

Sensory Processing Disorder
This disorder causes difficulty perceiving or interpreting sensory data taken in through sight, sound, touch, movement, or taste.  This disorder can have severe consequences in many aspects of learning, behaviour, self-regulation and daily functioning. Formerly, it has been referred to as sensory integration disorder.

Shared reading
An early childhood instructional strategy in which the teacher involves a group of young children in the reading of a particular big book in order to help them learn aspects of beginning literacy, as print conventions and the concept of word, and develop reading strategies, as in decoding or the use of prediction. (see also Big Book)

Sight Words
Words that a reader recognizes without having to sound them out. Some sight words are "irregular," or have letter-sound relationships that are uncommon. Some examples of sight words are you, are, have and said.

Significant Learning Difficulties
The NSW legislature passed the Education Amendment Educational Support for Children with Significant Learning Difficulties0an Act “to ensure that children with significant learning difficulties be included in the NSW Government’s Special Education Initiative for students with special needs”. The Act defines identification of these children by saying that “a child has a significant learning difficulty if a qualified teacher or other qualified education professional is of the opinion that the child is not, regardless of the cause, performing in the basic educational areas of reading, writing, spelling and mathematics in accordance with the child’s peer age group and stage of learning”.
This definition is non-categorical and irrespective of potential ability. Therefore, very bright students who may also experience significant learning difficulties and who may be significantly underachieving should receive additional learning support, thus seeking to maximise their potential. Implementation of this Act would ultimately depend upon criteria, such as achievement assessment results, to identify significant learning difficulties.

Simple View of Reading
The simple view of reading, as proposed by Gough and Tunmer, maintains that Reading is the product of decoding and comprehension. This is expressed in the equation, R=DxC, where each variable is between zero and one. From this definition it can be inferred that reading is not generally an all-or-nothing attribute. Unless one cannot decode at all or cannot comprehend spoken language at all, one can read some. This definition also infers that effective reading instruction and assessment must address both decoding and comprehension skills.
Gough & Tunmer, 1986. See http://www.csun.edu/~hda75098/SimpleView.html.

Small Learning Communities
Small learning communities are an increasingly popular approach for teaching adolescents. This approach uses personalized classroom environments where teachers know each individual student and can tailor instruction to meet their academic and social/emotional needs. The goal is to increase students' sense of belonging, participation, and commitment to school.

Social English
Often referred to as "playground English" or "survival English", social English is the basic language ability required for face-to-face communication, often accompanied by gestures and relying on context to aid understanding. Social English is much more easily and quickly acquired than academic English, but is not sufficient to meet the cognitive and linguistic demands of an academic classroom. It is also referred to as Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS).

Social justice
Social justice is concerned with barriers to fairness and equality in society due to economic oppression, racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination. Social justice in the classroom involves learning about and putting into action a commitment to recognition of diversity and acceptance of others, regardless of ethnic background, nationality, religion or other differences.

Social Justice (Teaching for)
Educational philosophy that claims to promote educational and socio-economic equity for all learners in all educational settings by focusing attention on fairness and equity issues with regard to gender, race, class, disability, sexual orientation, etc. While the term has been in use since the 1800’s, current use in education and teacher education is influenced by Paulo Frère’s ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’; the belief that  teaching is a political act that is never neutral and that teachers should focus on equity issues within classrooms. Advocated by some teachers and teacher educators who believe that the oppressive hegemony of the capitalist social order reproduces itself through the traditional practice of public schooling

Teaching for social justice classroom practice involves cooperative group work and diverse group interactions. Teacher/student and teacher/parent relationships are considered central as teachers understand that equal does not necessarily mean the same. Students from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds will not benefit from the monoculture framework that reflects the dominant culture. Teachers are required to acknowledge and build on student’s existing knowledge and values and match curriculum and instructional practices to student’s experiences.

Special Education
The services available to a child identified with certain special needs, including learning disabilities, individualized to meet a child’s (additional) specific learning needs. Special education is described not as a place, but as services that may be delivered in the general education classroom, as well as in resource rooms.

Special Education Needs (SEN)
In the UK, the term 'special educational needs' (SEN) has a legal definition, referring to children who have learning difficulties or disabilities, such as dyslexia, that make it harder for them to learn or access education than most children of the same age.
The Education Act 1996 says that 'a child has special educational needs if he or she has a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her.' It also says that 'a disability, which prevents or hinders them from making use of education facilities', amounts to a learning difficulty if it calls for special educational provision to be made. Special educational provision is provision that is additional to or otherwise different from that normally available in the area to children of the same age.
The definition includes more children than those who have 'learning difficulties' in the commonly accepted sense. This is because the definition of learning difficulties in the legislation includes children who have a disability and who need something additional or different to be provided for them. So, for example, a child with a visual impairment who needs materials to be provided in an enlarged font is defined in the legislation as having a learning difficulty even if they are not behind in their learning.
Reference - http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1996/56/contents

Specific Language Learning Difficulties (SLLD)
A severe difficulty in some aspect of listening, speaking, reading, writing, or spelling, while skills in the other areas are

Specific Learning Difficulties (SLD, SpLD)
See Learning Difficulties

Speech Impairments
Speech impairments may range from problems with articulation or voice strength to complete voicelessness, chronic hoarseness, stuttering or stammering. Speech difficulties can also be associated with cerebral palsy, hearing impairment and brain injury. People with speech disabilities may be difficult to understand and have difficulty in expressing ideas.
Reference - http://www.usq.edu.au/studentservices/disabilityresources/academicstaff/speechlearn

Speech Language Pathologist (SLP)
A specialist who can help children and adolescents who have speech and/or  language disorders to understand and give directions, ask and answer questions, convey ideas, and improve the language skills that lead to better academic performance. A speech pathologist can also counsel individuals and families to understand and deal with speech and language disorders.

Speed Test
A test in which performance is measured by the number of tasks accurately performed in a given time.
Examples are tests of typing speed and reading speed.

SQ3R Reading
SQ3R is a recognised reading strategy - standing for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review - to help students use a framework to better understand and retain information from reading assignments.
For example, before reading, Survey the chapter to find out:

  • the title, headings, and subheadings
  • captions under pictures, charts, graphs or maps
  • review questions or teacher-made study guides
  • introductory and concluding paragraphs
  • summary

For further information see: http://www.studygs.net/texred2.htm and http://www.collegeboard.com/student/plan/college-success/26666.html

Standard deviation (SD)
The standard deviation is a statistical measure describing the variability in a distribution of scores. The more the scores cluster around the mean, the smaller the standard deviation. In a normal distribution, 68% of the scores fall within one standard deviation above and one standard deviation below the mean.

Standard score
Scores on norm-referenced tests are based on the bell curve, or the equal distribution of scores from the average of the distribution. Standard scores are especially useful because they allow for comparison between students and comparisons of one student over time.

Standardisation is the process of producing a consistent set of procedures for designing, administering, and scoring an assessment. The purpose of standardization is to ensure that all individuals are assessed under the same conditions and are not influenced by different conditions.

Standardized tests
Tests that are uniformly developed, administered, and scored.

Statements that describe what students are expected to know and achieve in each year in school and subject area; include content standards, performance standards, and benchmarks.

Stanines are a standard score between 1 to 9, with a mean of 5 and a standard deviation of 2. The first stanine is the lowest scoring group and the 9th stanine is the highest scoring group.

Struggling reader
Any student of any age who has not mastered the skills required to fluently read and comprehend text which is written at a level that one could reasonably expect a student of that age to read.

Student-centred education (see child-centred)
The focus is on the student. (See also, active, cooperative, constructivist, discovery, hands-on, holistic, inquiry, learning by doing, project, thematic)

Students with Special Needs
The 2010 NSW Inquiry into the provision of education to students with a disability or special needs defined students with disabilities or special needs: In the context of this inquiry the term “students with disabilities” includes students with a diagnosed intellectual disability, physical disability, vision impairment, hearing impairment, language disorder, mental health condition or autism, in accordance with the DET Disability Criteria. “Students with special needs” include students with a behaviour disorder and/or learning difficulties.

A suffix is a word part that is added to the end of a root word. The four most frequent suffixes account for 97 percent of suffixed words in printed school English. These include -ing, -ed, -ly, and -es."

Summative Assessment
Summative assessment is generally carried out at the end of a course or project, and is designed to determine the extent to which the student has ‘learned’ the content of the course studied, and has acquired the knowledge and skills the course was intended to provide.  The term summative assessment is usually used to distinguish this form of assessment from formative assessment

Sustained Silent Reading (also known as SSR, Uninterrupted Sustained Silent Reading, USSR, Drop Everything and Read, DEAR, wide reading)

Students read, books, magazines and newspapers independently for fifteen to forty-five minutes each day in order to expose students to more words, increases word recognition and reading fluency, facilitate word learning and help expand students' knowledge base.

A syllable is a word part that contains a vowel or, in spoken language, a vowel sound (e-vent, news-pa-per).

Synthetic phonics
In this instructional approach, children learn how to convert letters or letter combinations into a sequence of sounds, and then how to blend the sounds together to form recognizable words.
According to the Clackmannanshire 7 year longitudinal study, '[Synthetic phonics] is a very accelerated form of phonics that does not begin by establishing an initial sight vocabulary. With this approach, before children are introduced to books, they are taught letter sounds. After the first few of these have been taught they are shown how these sounds can be blended together to build up words (Feitelson, 1988).

For example, when taught the letter sounds /t/ /p/ /a/ and /s/, the children can build up the words tap, pat, pats, taps, sat, etc. The children are not told the pronunciation of the new word either before it is constructed with magnetic letters or indeed afterwards; the children sound each letter in turn and synthesise the sounds together in order to generate the pronunciation of the word. Thus the children construct the pronunciation for themselves. Most of the letter sound correspondences, including the consonant and vowel digraphs, can be taught in the space of a few months at the start of their first year at school. This means that children can read many of the unfamiliar words they meet in text for themselves, without the assistance of the teacher. (see Inductive phonics).

Systematic and explicit phonics instruction
A program is systematic if the plan of instruction includes a carefully selected set of letter-sound relationships that are organized into a logical sequence. Explicit means the programs provide teachers with precise directions for the teaching of these relationships.

Tactile learning (See kinaesthetic learning)
(See also learning styles, auditory, kinaesthetic, modality, tactile, verbal, visual)

Teaching for understanding
Stresses in-depth learning as opposed to teaching ‘mere facts’ and superficial learning.

Telescoping Curricula
Also called "rapid progress"  involves allowing a student - or preferably,  a group of children of the same age - to complete the school's curriculum of several years in one year's less time.

Test bias
The difference in test scores that is attributable to demographic variables (e.g., gender, ethnicity, language background, socio-economic status, and age), or other variables.

A sequence of four letters used to represent a single sound (phoneme), or a combination of sounds, that do not necessarily correspond to the individual values of the letters. English does not have tetragraphs in native words, the closest is perhaps the sequence – ough in words like through, but chth is a true tetragraph when found initially in words of Greek origin such as chthonian.

Textbook learning
This term is used by some to disparage traditional, teacher-directed instruction symbolised by the use of textbooks in favour of child-centred project based learning. Many textbooks are justly criticised for being poorly written, unfocused, and not providing information in a logical sequence, so care should be taken in choosing well-written textbooks that support carefully focused teaching.

The Freebody and Luke Four Literacy Resources Model
Allan Luke and Peter Freebody say that ‘Effective literacy draws on a repertoire of practices that allow learners, as they engage in reading and writing activities, to:

  • break the code of texts: recognising and using the fundamental features and architecture of written texts including: alphabet, sounds in words, spelling, conventions and patterns of sentence structure and text
  • participate in the meanings of text: understanding and composing meaningful written, visual and spoken texts from within the meaning systems of particular cultures, institutions, families, communities, nation-states and so forth;
  • use texts functionally: traversing the social relations around texts; knowing about and acting on the different cultural and social functions that various texts perform both inside and outside school and knowing that these functions shape the way texts are structured, their tone, their degree of formality and their sequence of components;
  • critically analyse and transform texts: understanding and acting on the knowledge that texts are not neutral, that they represent particular views and silence other points of view, influence people’s ideas; and that their designs and discourses can be critiqued and redesigned, in novel and hybrid ways.’

From ‘A map of possible practices: Further notes on the four resources model’, Practically Primary, Volume 4 Number 2 June 1999.

The National (UK) Literacy Strategy
(see also multi-cueing and balanced methods)

Thematic learning
Holistic teaching of different subject matters across a common theme. (See also, active, cooperative, constructivist, discovery, hands-on, holistic, inquiry, learning by doing, project, thematic)

Thematic teaching
Instruction organised around themes or topics, instead of around subject areas such as mathematics or history.

Think-Alouds (private speech)
Teachers or students verbalize their own thoughts while reading orally, and more often, when writing.  This process helps clarify views of reading and writing and use of strategies. We use private speech to work through what is puzzling, new, or challenging, omitting what we already know or understand.  Private speech decreases as our performance and understanding improves.

Three Cueing Systems of the Reading Process
“... a Venn diagram. As such, its interpretation was straightforward. The intersection or overlap of the circles of a Venn diagram correspond to a logical AND between the sets its circles respectively represent. In logic, when an outcome depends on any n umber of elements linked by AND, it means that if any of those elements is missing, the outcome will not follow. Thus by depicting the meaning of a text in the intersection of its semantic, syntactic, and graphophonic cues, the Venn diagram succinctly asserts that the meaning of a text depends on all three; all three of these types of information are necessary, all three must be properly processed, and not one of them can be safely ignored or finessed except at the risk of forfeiting or distorting the meaning of the text...” The Three Cueing System By Marilyn Jager Adams.

Three Searchlights/3 Searchlights (UK National Literacy Strategy, [NLS] Searchlights)
Readers need to orchestrate a range of cues (phonic, graphic, grammatical and contextual) to decode and comprehend a text.

 “... The National Literacy Strategy (UK) promotes the teaching of reading in its broadest sense from the beginning of a child's education. This includes decoding, comprehension, grammatical understanding and a more general experience of different books and texts. In the NLS scheme, none of these aspects is given priority at any particular time in a child's acquisition of reading. For example, when a child learning to read encounters a word he or she does not know, the child is encouraged to 'work out' the word either by inferring from narrative context or syntax, by sounding out the word or by recognising the shape of the word from a previous encounter...”
Parliament UK, Select Committee on Education and Skills Eighth Report

Tiered Tasks
In a heterogeneous classroom, a teacher uses varied levels of activities to ensure that students explore ideas at a level that builds on their prior knowledge and prompts continued growth.

Top Down Reading
The Whole Language advocates state that reading is "top-down" in that the meaning of the text is dependent upon the background knowledge and understanding that the reader brings.  The reader forms hypotheses and makes predictions, and only samples the text occasionally to confirm those predictions.

Commonly used to refer to the change from secondary school to postsecondary programs, work, and independent living typical of young adults, but also used to describe other periods of major change such as from early childhood to school or from more specialized to mainstreamed settings.

Transmission theory of schooling
Transmission theory suggests that traditional schooling merely transmits an established social order by perpetuating its culture, knowledge, and values, instead of encouraging independent and critical thinking students capable of improving the established social order.  However, even John Dewey, the foremost proponent of Progressive education stated; 'Society not only continues to exist by transmission, by communication, but it may fairly be said to exist in transmission.'
John Dewey 'Democracy and Education'

A group of three letters used to represent a single sound or a combination of sounds that does not correspond to the written letters combined. For example, the word beautiful, the sequence eau is pronounced /juː/. It is sometimes difficult to determine whether a sequence of letters in English is a trigraph, because of the complicating role of silent letters. There are few productive trigraphs in English; one is tch as in watch.

T scores are a standard score with a mean of 50 and a standard deviation of 10. A T-score of 60 represents a score that is 1 standard deviation above the mean.

VAK (Visual/Auditory/Kinaesthetic)
A ‘learning styles’ model, the VAK model identifies only three learning styles, those who learn by seeing (V), those who learn by hearing (A) and those who learn by doing (K). The source of the VAK model has never been clearly identified. This is because its origins are in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) which has been around since the 1970s and, despite quite a troubled history, has never completely died out even though it is not widely regarded as having a sound basis in psychological facts.

VAK is one of two main ‘learning style’ theories (the other being multiple intelligences) frequently encountered in schools, neither of which are backed by reputable research evidence.

Confidence in the extent to which a test measures the skills it claims to measure and therefore degree of confidence in the extent to which inferences and actions made on the basis of test scores are appropriate and accurate.

Verbal Efficiency Theory
The Verbal Efficiency Theory is attributed to Perfetti & Lesgold (1979). It states that mere word recognition accuracy is not, in itself, sufficient to enable fluent reading comprehension. Instead, word-coding skills must be increased to a high level of efficiency and automaticity in order for the reader to be able to devote attention to meaning and comprehension.

Verbal learner
A person who learns better by listening and talking rather than by other means such as reading and doing (see also learning styles, auditory, kinaesthetic, modality, tactile, verbal, visual).

The following quote is from the Queensland Department of Education, Education Adjustment Program (EAP) webpage.
“Verification is the process of confirming that a student's identified impairment and the associated activity limitations and participation restrictions which require significant education adjustments meet criteria for one or more of the six EAP disability categories:
Verification is carried out by a team of statewide verifiers with experience and relevant qualifications in the particular disability category.
Verification can proceed for students when they are of Prep-eligible age or older and enrolled in a state education facility. Verification in the EAP disability categories of Hearing Impairment, Physical Impairment and Vision Impairment can also occur for eligible students attending non-state schools.”
For the criteria and forms related to the disability categories, please refer to the following pages:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Hearing Impairment (HI)
  • Intellectual Impairment (II)
  • Physical Impairment (PI)
  • Speech-Language Impairment (SLI)
  • Vision Impairment (VI)

See http://education.qld.gov.au/students/disabilities/adjustment/verification/index.html

Virtual Schooling - Also Cyberschooling and On-line Learning
Virtual schooling describes courses that are taught through online methods. Virtual schooling may be unscheduled so that students can access content at their own convenience, there may be communication via email and/or it may include real-time on-line meetings and videoconferencing. Course content may be provided by commercial and non-commercial entities.
The Australian Government provided funding of $2.4 billion to the Digital Education Revolution (DER) with the aim of contributing sustainable and meaningful change to teaching and learning in Australian schools that will prepare students for further education, training and to live and work in a digital world.
The Online Curriculum Resources and Digital Architecture Initiative (the Initiative) of the DER aims to facilitate sustainable change in the use of learning technologies by supporting schools’ access to and engagement in quality teaching and learning environments through the effective integration of digital teaching and learning resources and infrastructure.
The Le@rning Federation, a project of Education Services Australia, manages the national resource collection and infrastructure of digital curriculum resources. These resources are aligned with the curriculums of the Australian states and territories and will be aligned with the Australian Curriculum as it develops.
ODLAA (Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia) is a professional association for teachers, developers, researchers, consultants and administrators from Australia and overseas involved in open and distance learning.
iNACOL (The International Association for K-12 Online Learning)
Due to the rapid development in the field of K-12 online learning, the North American Council for Online Learning was launched as a formal corporate entity, in September 2003, as an international K-12 non-profit organization representing the interests of administrators, practitioners, and students involved in online learning in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. In October 2008, NACOL expanded its reach globally and became the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL).

Visual learner
A person who learns better by seeing rather than by other means such as hearing and talking
(see also learning styles, auditory, kinaesthetic, modality, tactile, verbal, visual),

Visual perception deficits
Typically, visual perceptual deficit cause problems in making sense of what is seen, and how visual information is processed by the brain, including difficulty with spatial relations, visual discrimination, and the relationship of parts to the whole.

Visual or visual-spatial processing
The way the brain interprets or makes use of visual information through perception, discrimination, memory and/or sequencing.

Vocabulary refers to the words a reader knows. Listening vocabulary refers to the words a person knows when hearing them in oral speech. Speaking vocabulary refers to the words we use when we speak. Reading vocabulary refers to the words a person knows when seeing them in print. Writing vocabulary refers to the words we use in writing.

Whole Language
Largely based on the work of Ken Goodman, Whole Language is a professional movement and theoretical perspective that embodies a set of applied beliefs governing learning and teaching, language development, curriculum, and the social community. Whole language teachers believe that all language systems are interwoven. They avoid the segmentation of language into component parts for specific skill instruction. The use of strategies taught in meaningful contexts is emphasized. Phonics is taught through writing and by focusing on the patterns of language in reading. Assessment focuses on authentic demonstrations of student work. The whole language movement has produced much interest, activity, and controversy and has had a major impact on how the reading education community thinks and talks about instruction.

Whole word
The whole-word approach is a method to teach reading by introducing words to children as whole units without analysis of their subword parts. (Beck and Juel 2002) The whole-word method involves teaching children to “sight read words, that is, to be able to pronounce a whole word as a single unit. (Mayer 2003) Whole-word instruction involves associating word names with printed words. By repeated exposure to words, especially in meaningful contexts, it is expected that children will learn to read the words without any conscious attention to subword units. Hence, whole-word recognition, or the development of a whole-word vocabulary, is a goal of whole-word instruction. The idea behind this approach was that children could learn to recognize words through repeated exposure without direct attention to subword parts, unlike the phonics approach to reading. The whole-word concept is a whole to part method of teaching children to read, where as phonics is part to whole. (See also sight words, Look/Say.

Whole-word method
An approach to reading instruction that deals with the learning of words as wholes.

Whole-word phonics
An analytic approach to reading instruction in which the sounds represented by certain letters and groups of letters within whole words are compared and contrasted to those in other whole words, avoiding the separate sounding of word parts.

Word attack
Word attack is an aspect of reading instruction that includes teaching of strategies for decoding as well as recognition of frequently occurring and irregular words by sight. 

Word bank
A file of words mastered or being studied by a student, or a personal dictionary of the student's own record of words used for various reasons, for example domain or theme specific vocabulary, or words used in constructing messages.  Also used to refer to all the words a learner knows how to write with reasonable accuracy. These words are not necessarily written in any list.

Word-by-word reading
Word-by-word reading is slow reading, usually associated with difficulty in decoding text, or in some cases difficulty in understanding complex or unfamiliar text.  Difficulty in decoding text may also interfere with comprehension of text. 

Word calling (also barking at print)
Word calling, or barking at print, is reading words without understanding their meaning.  It is indicative of good decoding skills but poor comprehension.

Word Consciousness
A disposition toward words that is both cognitive and affective.  The student who is word conscious is interested in words and gains enjoyment and satisfaction from using them well and from seeing or hearing them used well by others. Children who are word conscious know the importance of word learning and where they can learn new words.

Word families
A collection of words that share common orthographic rimes, such as HIKE, BIKE, LIKE, etc.

Word Map
Word mapping is a strategy that uses a visual organizer to develop depth and dimension of word knowledge, especially in connection with a specific topic, theme or concept.  This can be used to handle new vocabulary as either a pre reading or post reading activity.  Maps can be used in large or small groups, although it should be modelled a number of times before students use the maps without teacher direction.

Word method
Teaching beginning reading by beginning with a substantial number of words learned as whole units before word analysis is started.

Word parts
Word parts include affixes (prefixes and suffixes), base words, and word roots.

Word roots
Word roots are words from other languages that are the origin of many English words. About 60 percent of all English words have Latin or Greek origins.

Word Wall
One component of a four-part instructional strategy in reading.  A word wall is a systematically organized collection of words related to each other in some way, displayed in large letters on a wall or other large display place in the classroom.  It is a tool to use to teach a language concept, not just a display. Word walls are designed to promote group learning and be shared by a classroom of children.  Word walls let students know that words are important, interesting and worth discovering and learning.

Working Memory – see memory and learning for detailed definition
The ability to process, manipulate and store information in one's mind for a short period of time.

Written expression disorder
See Dysgraphia

Z-scores are a standard score with a mean of 0 (zero) and a standard deviation of 1.

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