Hang out with a bevy of educators these holidays and it’s not long before you’re served up alphabet soup — not an aromatic bowl of tomatoes, broth and pasta, but a dish of educational abbreviations.
I’m not saying there isn’t a time-saving reason for DOE or ESEA (see below) or AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) or even, WADM, which rhymes with bottom. I’m just saying there’s a communications problem between them and us. Have you heard about the Minnesota school board somewhere, sometime that charged its members a quarter every time they used an acronym or an abbreviation at a public meeting? They made a fortune.
An apocryphal tale, maybe, but last year Anoka-Hennepin Schools pulled together a vocabulary list for volunteers.
In 2008, I hope for a magic software program that translates DOE into Department of Education and IDEA into Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Or, how about an Educational Trivial Pursuit game I could load into a Blackberry? Then I could type in BST because it can’t have to do with body fat) and learn it stands for Basic Skills Test.
Oh, what’s “wad-em,” you ask?
It’s a “weighted average daily member,” such as the number of enrolled students adjusted for revenue purposes, with high school students “carrying more weight” than lower grades because it costs more to educate them.
Q. What’s NCLB?
A. Easy: No Child Left Behind, the politically charged name for the federal law that funds basic public school programs.
Yet, that may change. The American Association of School Administrators wants to switch the name back to ESEA, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
If you learn the acronym or abbreviation, you can be sure it’s gonna change, knowingly joked Sue Butler, longtime director of special education for Anoka-Hennepin Schools.
Still, the practice may be hard to stop. Most industries have their language shortcuts, said Charlie Kyte of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators. “They become the lexicon.”