Terms & Definitions

When you have conversations with educators about your child’s learning, you may hear some unfamiliar terms and acronyms. Here’s a glossary of some terms you might hear.

Education Terms

504 Plan

Section 504 is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that prohibits discrimination based upon disability. Section 504 is an anti-discrimination, civil rights statute that requires the needs of students with disabilities to be met as adequately as the needs of the non-disabled are met. See the page called RtI, IEP & 504 for more info.

AIP (Academic Improvement Plan)

The documentation method for all support services (except 504 accommodation plans and IEPs through IDEA). The AIP identifies the desired levels of performance in the student’s specific areas of weakness, and the instructional and support services to be provided to meet the desired levels of performance. All RtI functions and data will also be documented on the AIP. Promotion/retention decisions will be documented on the AIP, as well. Any parent/guardian or teacher may refer a student to the AIP Team to consider modifications to support the acceleration of content in the regular education classroom.This AIP info comes from the CSD Pupil Progression Plan, section II I, page 8

CRCT (Criterion Referenced Competency Tests)

State-mandated end-of-year test that measures how well students have learned the required skills and knowledge. Results are used to assess academic achievement of the student, class, school, system and state.


City Schools of Decatur

CogAT (Cognitive Abilities Test)

Measures students’ learned reasoning abilities in the three areas most linked to academic success in school: Verbal, Quantitative and Nonverbal.

Cognitive Ability

The basic mental abilities we use to think, study, and learn. The higher the child’s ability, the higher s/he should be expected to perform in school. This is determined in schools by the CogAT score.

Dyslexia (a basic definition)

“A reading difficulty in a child or adult who otherwise has good intelligence, strong motivation and adequate schooling.” Dyslexia is distinguished from other reading difficulties by the fact that the primary problem is phonologic weakness, at the level of decoding the single word (from Overcoming Dyslexiaby Sally Shaywitz, M.D.). Read more about dyslexia…

EIP (Early Intervention Program)

A program in Decatur schools to help support struggling students. Students in grades K-5 not performing or maintaining academic grade level skills are to be recommended and placed in the Early Intervention Program (EIP).

GPS (Georgia Performance Standards)

A list of specific tasks/skills that a child is expected to master in each grade, as determined by the Georgia Department of Education (GDOE). Every grade and every subject area has its own set of standards, such as phonics skills, math skills, etc. Children may need remediation if they fail to meet standards in multiple skills, and this can also be a warning sign for dyslexia. Note: the GPS are being replaced by the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) starting in the 1021-2013 school year. Look up GPS standards for your child’s grade…

IEP (Individual Education Plan)

A specialized education plan tailored to meet the individual needs of a child with a physical disability or SLD (specific learning disability). Read more about the IEP process…

Read about Decatur’s specific RtI and IEP processes in the CSD Pupil Progression Plan, page 58


Supplemental activities provided to a struggling child in an effort to improve his/her learning. For example, a child might work on a phonics program to reinforce specific skills. These may be implemented as part of the RtI process.

Language-Based Learning Disability

A disability affecting all aspects of language, including both the sounds and meanings of words. This includes difficulty with both decoding and comprehension (from Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz, M.D.).

MAP (Measures of Academic Progress)
Decatur students take MAP tests three times a year (August, December and May) to determine their instructional level and to measure academic growth throughout the school year. The computerized tests allow schools and parents to monitor growth from year to year.

Psycho-Ed Evaluation

Also known as a “learning evaluation,” a psycho-ed eval. is a comprehensive assessment of a child’s intelligence, learning processing skills, academic achievement, language functioning and social-emotional development. An evaluation done by a public school is designed specifically to find out if a child qualifies for special services. A psycho-ed eval. is different. It’s a more comprehensive look at your child’s overall strengths and weaknesses. These tests are administered for a fee by specially trained psychologists. If you suspect a learning difficulty, you might do a psycho-ed eval with your child. Read more about educational testing…

See Test Providers…


To “qualify” for a Specific Learning Disability (SLD) in GA, a child must demonstrate a failure to meet State-approved grade-level standards, and must meet other specific criteria. A diagnosis of dyslexia does not automatically qualify as SLD. The child can’t qualify for SLD based solely on a discrepancy in performance vs. cognitive ability. In other words, the child does not qualify just because her performance is significantly lower than expected for her cognitive ability.


The RIT scale is a measure of learning growth on the MAP test.

RtI (Response to Intervention)

A program designed to give additional support (interventions) to struggling learners. An RtI team (teacher, instructional coach, psychologist, etc.) will periodically assess the effectiveness of the interventions. Interventions will continue or intensify based on the results of the assessment. The student will eventually obtain an IEP if the required interventions become significant enough for the student to qualify for SLD. Read more about Rti…

Read about Decatur’s specific RtI and IEP processes in the CSD Pupil Progression Plan, page 58

SLD (Specific Learning Disability)

The term “dyslexia” is included in the definition of a specific learning disability refer to 34 CFR§300.8(c)(10). Source: “Oct. 2009 DL Update” document from GA DOE Special Ed division. However, The student must also meet other criteria to qualify for SLD, including a failure to respond to interventions. A student can have a diagnosis of dyslexia but still may not meet eligibility for a SLD.

Reading Programs


A structured, systematic, multi-sensory program for teaching reading to struggling readers.

Wilson Reading System

A variation of the Orton-Gillingham program. Wilson was designed for older kids and adults, but is also used with younger kids.

Reading Levels

There are several ways to report a child’s reading level. There are also different ways to identify the reading level of book. Here are some of the most common measurements.

Lexile Measure

Lexile reading “levels” are determined from standardized tests such as CRCT and MAP. Some standardized reading tests will converts the results to a Lexile measure for parents to help their child choose just-right books. Lexile also evaluates books for difficulty; levels range from 200 to 1700+ for advanced readers. If possible, choose books by the Lexile level.

DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment) Level

This is a reading level based on a DRA test with the teacher who scores the child on accuracy, comprehension, and fluency. The easiest books have letters (DRA Level A, B, C, etc.) then change to numbering (DRA Level 1 to 80).

AR (Accelerated Reader) Level

Some libraries identify the difficulty of a book by its AR value. AR levels range from 0.2 to 11+. AR is a motivational enrichment reading program that encourages kids to earn points by reading and taking a test on each book they read. AR assigns a value for each book based on its length and complexity, but there can be a wide variation between books with the same AR value.