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Know Your Educational Acronyms

Joel Gerring

By Joel Gerring, MASB Assistant Legal Counsel

DashBoard, April 4, 2018

In the educational world, as in the corporate world and in government, we love our acronyms and abbreviations. We also love to describe different programs and concepts using very similar terms, which can lead to a lot of confusion. Terms such as IEP, IDP and EDP can become conflated in our minds because they involve similar ideas (plans to help an individual improve), but each actually applies to different individuals within the educational setting. Below are just a few of the most common types of acronyms and abbreviations that we encounter in education, grouped according to those that are most often confused for each other or are otherwise somewhat related.


EDPEducational Development Plan. For all students. Under the Michigan Merit Curriculum, school boards must provide all seventh grade students with the opportunity to create a long-term plan for their ongoing public education. It is to be reviewed and adjusted as necessary prior to ninth grade, taking into account readiness scores, career pathways, student goals and so forth, with an emphasis on acquainting students with career and technical education opportunities.

IEPIndividualized Education Program. For children receiving special education services. It is a document developed by the district for each special education student. It outlines the educational objectives and required accommodations for a particular student.

IDPIndividualized Development Plan. For teachers. As part of the Teacher Performance Evaluation System, teachers are to receive an annual year-end evaluation. Pursuant to this law, an IDP must be created for teachers who are in their first probationary year, as well as for those who receive a rating of “minimally effective” or “ineffective.”


CCCommon Core. A national education initiative that seeks to create consistent educational standards across the country, as well as set a baseline preparedness for students to enter college or the workforce.

MMCMichigan Merit Curriculum. Michigan’s governing standard for determining qualifications for receiving a high school diploma. It outlines the minimum proficiencies that must be demonstrated within the specific content as outlined by the Michigan State Standards.

MSSMichigan State Standards. An outline of learning expectations (sometimes referred to as the Michigan Academic Standards) as adopted by the State Board of Education for 10 basic subject matters: Arts (performance), CTE (Career Technical Education), ELA (English Language Arts), Health, Mathematics, Physical Education, Science, Social Studies, Technology and World Languages.


ESEAElementary and Secondary Education Act. A comprehensive statute, originally passed in 1965, that emphasized equal access to education, established specific standards and accountability, emphasized reducing achievement gaps, and provided funding for professional development, materials, and resources. Reauthorized every five years.

NCLBNo Child Left Behind Act. The 2001 reauthorization and modification of the ESEA, with additional emphasis on standards-based education reform. NCLB is known for closely tying funding to academic progress as measured by state developed assessments. No Child Left Behind was replaced by the Every Student Succeeds Act.

ESSAEvery Student Succeeds Act. The 2015 reauthorization of ESEA, which also supplanted the No Child Left Behind Act. It modified provisions of NCLB in order to narrow the federal government’s role by shifting accountability provisions to the states.


FERPAFamily Education Rights and Privacy Act. A federal law that protects the privacy of student educational records, providing parents and “eligible students” with the right to inspect or request records, as well as requiring their permission to release those records (with certain exceptions). FERPA applies to all schools that accept federal funding.

FOIAFreedom of Information Act. A state act that provides citizens with the right to request, and be provided with, documents and other information from governmental agencies, subject to certain, specific exceptions. Often called a FOIA request. Not to be confused with a PERA request, which are information requests generally submitted to the district from a union related to collective bargaining negotiations. (See PERA below.)

OMAOpen Meetings Act. A state act that promotes governmental accountability by facilitating public access to official decisionmaking. OMA provides a means through which the general public may observe proceedings and address a public body.


IDEAIndividuals With Disabilities Education Act. Federal law that requires specific standards of accountability, equality and excellence as it relates to educating children with disabilities.

FAPEFree and Appropriate Public Education. Under IDEA, every student with a disability must receive a free and appropriate public education, equal to the education provided to nondisabled students and designed to fit the student’s particular needs. Lawsuits that assert that a disabled student’s needs were not properly met generally allege a violation of FAPE.


CTECareer Technical Education. Education programs that provide students with the knowledge, training and technical skills to succeed in a specific career track; often a term used in contrast to the “general college prep” coursework the majority of American students follow.

ELAEnglish Language Arts. One of 10 separate subjects with state-mandated minimum standards under the Michigan State Standards.

GEDGeneral Equivalency Development (or Diploma). These are issued by the U.S. government, with their own criteria, and are therefore outside of the state’s graduation requirements (the Michigan Merit Curriculum).


PAMPupil Accounting Manual. A manual provided by the Office of State Aid and School Finance providing guidance on pupil membership requirements and count procedures.

PERAPublic Employee Relations Act. The state act that governs the relationship between governmental entities and their employees. This Act sets forth rules related to bargaining, striking, leadership or representative elections, grievances, disciplinary matters and so forth.

RSCRevised School Code. The state act that provides for our public school system and generally governs the organization, regulation and maintenance of public instruction. Not to be confused with the State School Aid Act, which is generally not referred to by any abbreviation or acronym; it is a separate act that outlines the manner in which the state will fund its public schools, colleges and universities.

TTATeacher Tenure Act. The state act that regulates the probationary periods and tenure status of teachers as well as outlines rules for demotion, discharge, resignations, leaves of absence, etc. This act also provides for the creation of the Tenure Commission in order to adjudicate related matters.

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