ACT: a national college admissions test measuring student achievement in English, math, reading and science.

Advanced Placement (AP): college-level courses offered in some high schools. Some colleges give incoming students college credit if in high school they received a score of 3, 4 or 5 on an AP test in a given subject.

Associate’s degree (AA): a college degree usually earned after high school that requires two years of full time study. These degrees are often offered at community colleges or vocational schools and focus on training for a specific job or career.

Bachelor’s degree (BA or BS): a college degree usually earned after high school that normally requires four years of full time study. For many jobs/professions it is considered the minimum level of education necessary to begin a career.

Charter schools: free public schools that are open to all New York City students but which operate independently, according to the terms of a performance contract, or “charter.” Any student eligible for admission to a traditional district school is eligible for admission to a public charter school in New York City. However, many have a separate applications process.

College: In the US, “college” usually refers to schools offering two- or four-year degrees earned after high school (sometimes called “university” in other countries). A college can be part of larger institutional groupings of schools generally referred to as “universities.”

CUNY: the City University of New York is the public university system of New York City, providing high-quality, accessible education for more than 269,000 degree-credit students and 247,000 adult, continuing and professional education students at 24 campuses across New York City. See

District 75: citywide educational, vocational, and behavior support programs for students who are on the autism spectrum, have significant cognitive delays, are severely emotionally challenged, sensory impaired and/or multiply disabled. It consists of school organizations, home and hospital instruction and vision and hearing services.

District 79: alternative schools and programs that help students under 21 years old who have experienced an interruption to their studies to earn their high school diploma or equivalency.

Dual Language (DL) programs: provide instruction half in English, half in another target language, with the aim of enabling students to become bilingual. These programs are both for students whose native language is not English as well as English-speaking students who are interested in learning a second language.

English as a Second Language (ESL): classes taught completely in English using a special technique to communicate with non-English speakers until the students are competent enough to be moved to a general English program.

Enhanced Language Instruction (ELI): offered in some pre-K programs to give support and to foster language development in the native languages spoken by children.

English Language Learner (ELL): students in English language learning programs in the NYC public school system

Gifted and Talented (G&T): special program in some schools running from kindergarten through fifth grade, designed to meet the unique needs of students with advanced or exceptional academic ability. These free programs are highly sought after and competitive. This program is open to all children, including those with disabilities and/or IEPs.

Individualized Education Program (IEP): a written document that is developed for each eligible student with a disability in accordance with the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It describes the plan for providing a free appropriate public education that will meet the student’s unique needs in the least restrictive environment. It should be collaboratively developed, based on information provided by parents, assessment professionals, instructional personnel, related service providers and, where appropriate, the student. For more information see NYC.GOV IEP PDF

National Merit Scholarship: a nationwide academic scholarship program for high school seniors wishing to attend college.

Regents Diploma / Advanced Regents Diploma: “Regents” refers to statewide, standardized tests in certain subjects that determine whether students have the minimum skills necessary to pass a subject. An Advanced Regents Diploma means that the student passed more Regents exams than required for the standard diploma, and it is considered by many to better prepare students for college.

Response to Intervention (RtI): an evaluation process schools use to identify areas where a student might need extra help and to make sure they receive it. It also identifies the best ways to monitor the effectiveness of the response or “intervention” and to identify further steps if needed, including whether a special education evaluation is necessary.

SAT / PSAT: standardized tests widely used for college admissions (designed by an organization called “the College Board”). They are supposed to measure the reading, writing, and mathematic skills that are needed for academic success in college. The PSAT is typically taken by high school sophomores (10th graders) and juniors (11th graders) and is used to determine eligibility and qualification for the National Merit Scholarship Program, as well as for practice for the SAT. The SAT is typically taken by high school juniors (11th graders) and seniors (12th graders) and is used by colleges as part of the admissions process.

Special education/special ed: supports and services specially designed to meet the needs of students identified as having a disability (physical, intellectual, learning or emotional).

Specialized High Schools: nine high schools in New York City that serve the needs of academically and artistically gifted students. For eight of these schools, admission is based solely on the score attained on the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT): the Bronx High School of Science, the Brooklyn Latin School, Brooklyn Technical High School, High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at the City College, High School of American Studies at Lehman College, Queens High School for the Sciences at York College, Staten Island Technical High School, and Stuyvesant High School. For Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (LaGuardia High School), acceptance is based on an audition and a review of a student's academic records.

Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE): classes taught largely in students’ home language that gradually transition to more English until the students can be moved to a general English program.