School Editor

NOTE: If a word or phrase you’re wondering about does not have a pop-up definition, try searching  this document.



This directory consists of about 15,000 public and private schools, programs, groups, and resources. About 13,500 of these are located in the Unites States; there are 1,500 international listings as well. For simplicity, we refer to all listings as “schools” below.


Our data comes from a number of sources, including published directories, surveys conducted by AERO, online submissions to this database, and communications with the schools themselves. For clarity and consistency, we have edited school descriptions whenever possible using a basic vocabulary of terms defined below. Categories of information, like school’s TYPE or LOCATION , are set in all caps, while standard choices within those categories, like TYPE : charter school and suburban location, are set in boldface. To see definitions of our terminology using the database, simply move your cursor over the word or phrase and the definition will appear, along with the current total of records with this feature or information (e.g., the total number of Montessori schools, or schools we have TUITION figures for (if these don’t pull up).


Our terminology is all listed below, although not every term or category is defined: many, like NAME and optional class attendance , are basically self-explanatory; others, we’re still wondering about ourselves.


All the schools in this database are non-traditional [incorporating one or more innovative features such as internships , portfolios, or multi-age classes. May focus on vocational or special education.]. Most of our listings are also alternative. What makes a school “alternative?” That depends on whom you ask. For some, being non-traditional is enough to make a school alternative; it means the same thing. For others, a school is not alternative unless it involves parents, teachers, and/or students in either GOVERNANCE , INDIVIDUALIZATION , or both.


Using standard terminology makes searching the database and understanding what you find much easier. However, it also means that descriptions are not necessarily in a school’s own words. Sometimes a school does describe itself in the terms we define below. But unless they’ve submitted that profile online, they could have very different ideas of what those words mean.


The bottom line is that no school can be summed up in a few words. A school listed as Montessori may use only some aspects of that approach or only for certain classes.  A “ community-based ” program may only spend a fraction of its time off-campus. And so on. Also, schools are always changing, so quite a bit of this data may out of date by the time you read it.


For all these reasons, we recommend that you contact the school and verify the information herein. Then visit the school and get to know what these concepts  really mean to the school or teacher. If you find something inaccurate, please let us know.


If you are adding or editing an entry for your school, please use this vocabulary whenever possible. That way we can all be speaking the same language. If you feel that these choices don’t quite cover or fit what you’re trying to say, feel free to elaborate in the space provided. If you want to use one of our terms but it means something different to you, drop us an e-mail and we’ll work something out.


The information we have on each school is divided into X categories. Fourteen of these categories [ TYPE , GRADE LEVELS , POPULATION , LOCATION , SCHEDULE , APPROACH , GROUPING , EXPERIENCE , GOVERNANCE , CURRICULUM, INDIVIDUALIZATION , EVALUATION , SUPPORT , and OFFERINGS ] have a set of standard options displayed as checkboxes. You can almost always select more than one option within each, and in some cases you can elaborate or write something else under “Other.”


Three-degree format


A number of school features have the following three options: “•”, “+”, and “*”. These correspond, roughly speaking, to “a little,” “a fair amount,” and “a lot.” To see exactly what each of these means, see the relevant category below ( APPROACH , GOVERNANCE , CURRICULUM, INDIVIDUALIZATION , and OFFERINGS ), or just roll over each option with your mouse [what should appear in each case is listed in a 1x3 table after the definition]. Here are some examples, below.



what you enter

what appears



practical skills


Emphasis on practical skills.



Focus on science.


You can select only one of these choices (to deselect any choice, hold down the shift key while clicking on it). After clicking on one of these choices, you may also elaborate by clicking on other , as in the latter two examples below. [In Filemaker, clicking on any of the first three choices wipes out anything previously entered under other . Hopefully this is not true online.]



what you enter

what appears

cultural studies

• Afro-centric

Cultural studies (Afro-centric).


* construction and electronics

Focus on vocational training (construction and electronics).


School Data Definitions



adt                     Adult

AE                     Alternative Education

ALC                     Area Learning Center

alt                     Alternative

CC                     Community College

Cont                     Continuing

CS                     Charter School

Ctr                      Center

E, J, M, S, H                       Elementary, Junior, Middle, Senior, high

Ed                     Education

Inc                     Incorporated

Ind                     independent

Mag                     magnet

P, prog                     program

S, sch                      school

TS                     targeted services




          or province, in the case of Canadian and other international listings.


          or international postal code.









Adm                     Administrator, -tive, -tion

Asst                     Assistant

Chair                     Chairman, -woman, -person

Coord                     Coordinator

CSW                     Certified Social Worker

Dir                     Director

Head                     Head of School, Headmaster, Headmistress

Mgr                     Manager

Prin                     Principal

Reg                     Registrar

Sr                     Sister

Supt                     Superintendant

Tch                     Teacher




Adms                     Admissions

Assn                     Association

Comm                     community

Dept                     Department

Dev                     Development

Enrl                     Enrollment

Fac                     Faculty

PPS                     Pupil Personnel Services


NCES code

The unique school identification number assigned to every public and private school in the USA by the National Center for Education Statistics. This can be found at the NCES website,


Select all that apply. See also APPROACH .


State-run. In the U.S., see also charter and magnet schools.


Not state-run or supported. Private schools are not necessarily independent or non-traditional.


Publicly-funded schools or programs exempt from many state regulations. Some charters are new schools, others are converted from existing public or private schools, and many have a specific curricular or instructional approach. To maintain their autonomy and funding, charter schools must demonstrate results through standardized tests, etc. Some charter schools are non-traditional; a few are alternative. All are listed here.


Nearly 5000 charter schools now exist in 44 states, each with its own set of charter school laws. Some are formed by “partnerships” of parents, teachers, community groups, and/or universities. An increasing number of charter schools are managed by for-profit companies. The chartering agency may be the DISTRICT , the state board of education, a state charter school board, or an institute of higher education. See each state’s charter school contact listings for details (these are designated as TYPE : “state charter resource”) or visit


a public choice school with a given area of concentration (e.g., science/math, performing arts, or foreign language) or one designed to a attract a racially diverse student body. A precursor to charter schools.


Geared toward at-risk students.


A public agency or private business or nonprofit support organization. Often state-wide or national . Basically anything involved with education that does not have its own student body (as opposed to a distance learning program, for example, which is a home study based school, not a resource).


The relative level (s) of instruction offered, regardless of how a school GROUPS its students (so this does apply to home study , Montessori , and other ungraded schools).


Note that while schools generally group students by grade level and students are normally placed in these levels according to their AGE, grades taught  is not the same as ages served. There are high school programs for overage adults and 1st grade classes for gifted five year olds. GRADE LEVELS is about what is taught, not whom.


Also keep in mind that the grade levels offered tend to change, especially for charter schools, which generally add a level for every year they are in operation. In such cases, sometimes the school has not reached the total number of grade levels indicated herein.





One or more of grades from preschool through 6th and no grade higher than the 8th (e.g. grades K-6,1-3, or 6-8). A.k.a., primary school.


includes any grade(s) from 4th through 9th. A.k.a. junior high. See also secondary school.


includes any grade(s) from 7th through 12th. A.k.a. senior high.




continuing education

adult education


How the student body or the students in a given class are divided up for the purpose of instruction.


Students placed in groups with a one-year age span (except for students who are held back [overage] or accelerated due to their performance or ability). Typical for In modern conventional schools, students are typically placed in a given GRADELEVEL based on their age rather than ability.



Students of different ages and/or abilities are grouped together, as in a one-room schoolhouse (a.k.a., mixed-age or family grouping). In alternative schools, the intention is usually to allow students to progress at their own individual rate rather than according to specified objectives for a particular GRADE LEVEL.


Multi-aged classes are also sometimes employed in conventional schools either by necessity (e.g., if there are fewer teachers than grades) or for the sake of efficiency (as in the case of low enrollment). In these cases, two or more GRADE LEVELS are often simply put together (e.g., fifth and sixth grade), and this has been called a combination, mixed, blended, split, or multi- grade class.


In both cases, since students of different ages are even more likely to be at different skill levels than students of the same age, it is important that a multi-level curriculum be designed accordingly. ungraded schools, for example, often use a thematic APPROACH . Special materials and teacher training are also employed, and classes often have the same teacher(s) for several years.


• in some classrooms/classes                              

+ in most classrooms/classes          

* in all classrooms/classes



Students are not grouped at all. Ages mix freely, as in free schools. A.k.a. “nongraded” (not to be confused with non-graded EVALUATION ).


• in some classrooms/classes

+ in most classrooms/classes

* in all classrooms/classes



The range of ages admitted (allowed), not the actual range of ages that the school happens to have at present. For better results, search by GRADELEVELS.


The total number of full-time instructors at any given time, counting  half  and other part-time positions as such and not counting administrators (principals, secretaries, etc), ASSISTANTS , or other supporting staff (counselors, etc). For example, a school has a staff of ten; however, only six are actually teachers at the school and each only teaches half-time, so that only three of them are teaching on a given day. The number of full-time teachers is 3. See also TEACHER TO STUDENT RATIO .


Includes interns.


The total number of full-time students at any given time. Is the total number enrolled split between day and night classes, or several sessions?  For example, a school may have 120 students enrolled, but each student is only there one day a week (i.e., one fifth of the time). The number of full-time students is 24. See also TEACHER TO STUDENT RATIO .


STUDENTS divided by TEACHERS . For example, the teacher to student ratio at a school with 3 full-time teachers and 24 full-time students is 1:8. [this should be computer-generated, not user-entered. However, please leave this blank for records created before the date of the NCES import which have not been modified after the database goes online. Otherwise this value may be misleading, since pre-existing values may not be true full-time totals.]

[don’t display totals]



When the school began operating. May include the season, e.g. “Spring 1999.” [Formerly “Year Founded” (YrFnd)]


 Enrollment restrictions other than AGES admitted. Includes admissions procedures, prerequisites, and necessary qualifications. Can include any of the options listed under POPULATION .


waiting PERIOD




test scores



student interview

parent interview

physical exam


recommendation by institution or assignment by government agency

district residency

county residency


no residency requirement





The makeup of the student body (e.g., “low income,” “some ADHD,” “50% at-risk,” “mainly international”). Who actually attends; not necessarily who enrollment is RESTRICTED [ENTRANCE REQ’S] to. For more ethnographic info on a given school, visit the NCES website.





African American


Native American

American Indian


Hispanic, Latino, African American, Native American, etc.






A previously enrolled student now out of school for whatever reason, by choice or necessity. Can include expelled students, “drop-outs,” homeschoolers and unschoolers.


behind in GRADE LEVEL; a.k.a., retained, held back, repeating.





disadvantaged or experiencing difficulties in school; includes returning or overage students, juvenile offenders,  pregnant or parenting teens, the homeless, court-involved, victims of abuse or neglect; children of transient or single parent families, low-income homes or high-crime areas,  immigrants, and those employed during the day. See also special needs .


special needs

differently-abled; with mild to severe disabilities including ADD and ADHD, serious emotional disturbance, etc. Not necessarily at-risk .


academically advanced. Credited with having uncommon intelligence or talent. Note however that just as all people are “differently-abled,” all of us are gifted, often in unrecognized ways.


The cost, including membership dues or fees in the case of homeschool groups.


The period of time that the TUITION figure covers.










more than one campus or office


sub urban



Located in a regular school building but catering to a subset of or an entirely separate student body; sometimes operating only on certain days of the week.



serving people across the country


serving two or more countries



extended (e.g., 3-hour) classes

after school program


                    includes night classes or tutoring


                    includes Saturday or Sunday classes or tutoring

flexible SCHEDULE

extended day

extended year


summer program



Some of the choices listed below have three options. To see what these mean, just roll over each option with your mouse. In general,


• (a bullet) means this option applies only to some of the school’s programs or classes.

+ indicates an area of emphasis, incorporated into and used across the curriculum, but only to a limited extent.

          * means this is a focus of the school; the central feature, core, or format of the program.


You can elaborate on any of these choices by choosing “other.” [note: prose layout in current solution does not account for this.] To de-select any choice, hold down the shift key while clicking on it.



experiential , developmentally appropriate, and mostly self-directed approach involving independent and group activities in a prepared environment, employing specific materials and multi-age classes. Used mostly in private elementary schools but also in some magnet and charter schools (for more information see [link]).


An experiential , developmentally appropriate approach integrating science , math , and the humanities with arts and movement. Typically same teacher stays with class from 1st through 8th grade. foreign language ; music ; story telling, and students make their own textbooks. Non-graded. Equal emphasis on academics, creative expression, practical and social skills . Pre-K activities nurture imagination and self-esteem. A.k.a. Steiner. For more information see [link to longer definition]. See also Waldorf-inspired.


Incorporates elements of Waldorf education, but not a strictly Steiner approach. May be somewhat democratic , for instance.


Developed by the Society of Friends. Education is viewed as a spiritual, “experimental” process of personal seeking supported by a caring, nurturing community. Emphasis on peace and social justice [ citizenship ].


self-directed. Often democratic.


democratic, self-directed, non-graded, multi-aged classes, extensive field trips , non-compulsory class attendance. Based on Sudbury Valley School model.

International Baccalaureate

Currently offered in 900 schools in over 100 countries.


          Developed in Italy and used for over 50 years; project-based , integrates the arts.



Interdisciplinary (multidisciplinary).


a.k.a., theme-based. integrated around one or more topics, or “units,” such as dinosaurs , a certain culture, or the environment. Students read, write, and work on projects relating to the unit. Often used with multi-aged classes for INDIVIDUALIZATION : so that students can work at a pace and level appropriate to their ability.


A multi-sensory, experiential approach designed to engage a variety of learning styles, based on the idea that there are wide differences between people in the ways we take in and process information. See also Multiple Intelligences. Note that this does not mean the program is individualized.

developmentally appropriate

Geared toward the interests and aptitudes of a given age group. Based on the idea that children grow in distinct stages, so that the most effective ways to engage students are different for each stage. Developmental models include Waldorf , Montessori , Natural Learning Rhythms , and Open School APPROACH ES.


Addressing the "whole child," including most or all of the following: students’ emotional, social, behavioral, physical, academic, intellectual, creative, aesthetic, and spiritual development. May also address the whole school, including the personal growth of the staff. Often implies practical skills . In the case of at-risk , a "comprehensive therapeutic" APPROACH .

Multiple Intelligences

A research-based , multi-modal, experiential APPROACH based on psychologist Howard Gardner’s Frames of Mind (1983). Gardner argues that there are at least seven ways of knowing the world– the linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial and artistic, bodily-kinesthetic, inter- and intra-personal– yet conventional schooling only addresses the first two.

cooperative learning

Students working together in teams. Can include peer teaching, peer tutoring , and peer mentorship . Said to build community and favor mutual support over competition. Some advanced models, including “group investigation,” are largely self-directed. Research-based; leading proponents include Roger and David Johnson, Yael and Shlomo Sharan, Robert Slavin, Spencer Kagan, and the International Association for the Study of Cooperation in Education. Also known as collaborative or community learning. Not to be confused with cooperative schools or cooperative education.


same teacher(s) for several years

team teaching


progress at a faster pace so that course material is completed sooner. Not to be confused with Accelerated Learning or an “accelerated” student, i.e., one who is put in a higher GRADE LEVEL than normal for their age.


accelerated option

some accelerated




English/Spanish unless otherwise indicated. This is about the language used at the school, not whether each student is required to learn a foreign language. For that, check foreign language .


bilingual option

bilingual emphasis



cultural studies

Are multi-cultural unless the school focuses on a single culture, in which case indicate otherwise (African, Native American, American). For “multicultural setting” pick “+”

[three degrees as in OFFERINGS ]


computer assisted instruction



emphasis on CAI

CAI -based


independent study

Just means working alone (e.g., individual research). Who decides what to do is another issue. Also, independent study is not necessarily distance learning. In fact, this takes place on-site unless home study is also checked.


independent study

independent study component

independent study-based


home study

homeschooling; home-based education. Educating one’s self or one’s children– not necessarily at home. This can be done independently (see unschooling ), through an “umbrella” curriculum (a.k.a., “distance learning” or “correspondence course”), administered by a private school or business or in consultation with the public school system, or by hiring tutors and mentors. Often, a local group of homeschoolers will form a homeschool resource center.


home study

home study component

home study-based



Off-site, distance learning CAI . Note that all online study is independent study , but not all independent study is online.


online component

partly online




          boarding; housing available on or off campus


residential option

partly residential




stressing “high achievement” in its area of focus (usually academics but could be the arts).

Core Knowledge

Adds literature, history, geography, science and the arts to the basics . Developed by E. D. Hirsch.

Direct Instruction



These options are all about learning by doing. They are arranged roughly in order of degree, so that each choice may imply the ones before it. For example, all internships are hands-on and experiential .



involving activities (besides listening, reading and writing).


involving extended and often complex tasks, usually requiring several days or weeks to complete. May or may not involve practical skills or be community-based .


involving activities that engage  students physically, often off-site, outdoors, or at least outside the classroom. Teachers typically set the stage and, within certain parameters (of safety, etc.), grant students increased personal choice ,along with the opportunity to experience the natural consequences of their actions.

field trips



apprenticeships  and other  supervised work EXPERIENCE involving 1:1 on the job training. This does not refer to whether interns are accepted at the school, i.e., teachers in training. For that see teacher education .

community service

a.k.a., service learning, volunteer work


Mostly off-site, in the “real” world (a.k.a., “school without walls”). Not to be confused with community involvement.

school without walls

                    Almost entirely off-site.


Who runs the school, makes policy and budgetary decisions, and chooses teachers. Check all those that apply. Choices (with the exception of democratic school meeting ) each have three options:


• consulted

+ involved in decision-making

* has or shares the final word


To see these spelled out, just roll over each option with your mouse. You can elaborate on any of these choices by choosing “other.” To de-select any choice, hold down the shift key while clicking on it. For more on this three-degree format, see above.



principal, etc.




democratic school meeting

decisions by vote, consensus, or similar process involving teachers, administrators, students, and sometimes parents equally. Used in democratic schools.




Who designs the course of study for each class. Check all those that apply. Choices have three options each:


• consulted

+ involved in decision-making

* has or shares the final word


To see these spelled out, just roll over each option with your mouse. You can elaborate on any of these choices by choosing “other.” To de-select any choice, hold down the shift key while clicking on it. For more on this three-degree format, see above.





has or shares the final word



driven by typically state-determined GRADE LEVEL expectations (usually with standardized tests for demonstrating passing competency).




designed around








If CURRICULUM is individualized, who dictates a particular student’s program of study. Check all those that apply. Choices (except for optional class attendance ) each have three options:


• consulted

+ involved in decision-making

* has or shares the final word


To see these spelled out, just roll over each option with your mouse. You can elaborate on any of these choices by choosing “other.” To de-select any choice, hold down the shift key while clicking on it. For more on this three-degree format, see above.






optional class attendance


Keeping track of strengths, weaknesses, progress, and/or relative rank. Used in part by most schools to determine whether a student will graduate, move onto the next GRADE LEVEL, or stay at the present one. Includes how STUDENTS demonstrate competency (e.g., portfolio ), how performance is measured (e.g., standardized tests ) and how it is reported (e.g., narrative assessment). It’s best to assume that a school uses GRADES in addition to any other methods listed. Contact the school to be sure.


For more on assessment terminology, see


standardized tests


includes letters, numbers, percentiles, etc. Performance is either measured against an objective standard or compared against others and assigned a relative rank (vs. non-graded).



written reports, usually by the teacher


A collection of a student's work (in the form of materials, videos, CD-ROMs, journals, etc) that demonstrates a student's efforts, achievements, and progress over a period of time. May include a student’s self-reflection or evaluation. Often used in performance-based assessment.


presentations to the school or public


a.k.a., outcome-based, demonstration. Evaluation is often ongoing and the “test” consists of a product or activity, typically involving practical skills , that can presumably be measured. For “competency-based,” see standards .

parent conferences



Either during school (for the children of teen and adult parents) or before/after school (for primary age students).


advisor program 1583, therapeutic 951

social services

health services


A one on one relationship, usually with an adult in the local community, providing emotional support and guidance.  For vocational apprenticeships, see internships .


one-on-one instruction






sliding scale


Accrediting bodies are starred (*). For public schools, see also DISTRICT .




A “__”implies some prefix or suffix. E.g.,  “__ANS”,      the Assn of Nonpublic Schools, can be NANS (the National Assn of Nonpublic Schools), FANS (the Florida Assn of Nonpublic Schools), etc.


AAWS                     ?



AEE                     Assn for Experiential Education

__AEYC                     __ Assn for the Ed of Young Children

__ANS                     __ Assn of Nonpublic Schools

__AANS,                      __ Assn of Academic Nonpublic Schools

AAWS                     ?

AC                     Administrators Council

ACSI                     Assn of Christian Schools, international

AECI                     Assn for Early Childhood international

AIGE                     ?

AIMS                     ?

AIS__                     __ Assn of Independent Schools (of ...), e.g., AISNE     

ALCOE/CSULA                     ?

AMI                     Assn Montessori Internationale

AMITOT                     AMI Teachers of Texas

__AMT                     __ Assn of Montessori Teachers?

__ANS                     __?

__ASC                     __ Assn of Schools and Colleges

ASCD                     ?

ASN                     Alternative Schools Network (Chicago)

AWSNA                     Assn of Waldorf Schools of N. America

BE                     Board of Education

BH                     Board of Health? (1 NY)

BOCES                     Board of Cooperative Educational Services

CAP                     Community Action Program

CCE, CCEA                     ? (1,1)

CCIS                     ?-Independent Study? (2)

CCP                     ? (1)

CEC                     ? (2)

CES                     Coalition of Essential Schools

CHEA                     Christian Home Educators Assn?

CIS                     Council of Independent Schools

CME                     Contemporary Montessori Education

CMF                     Christian Montessori Fellowship

CNME                     ?

COE                     ? (1)

DAIN                     ?

DE                     Department of Education

DFS                     Division of Family Services

DHR                     Department of Human Resources

DSS                     Department of  social services

DHS                     Department of  health services

DL&E                     Department of Labor and Education (SD)

DPI                     Department of Public Instruction (WI)

ECEA                     ? (1, Mont)

__EA                     __ Education Agency

ERB                     ?

ESR                     ?

FAASE                     ? (1,FL)                     [reviewed to here]

FCOE                     Friends Council on Education

FIS                     Federation of Independent Schools

FISA                     ?

FOM                     Friends of Montessori

FS                     Family Services

FTP                     Federation of Teaching parents

H__                     Hillsborough...

HD                     Health Department

HEA                     Home Educators Association

HSGI                     HS Graduation Incentive (MN)

HSED                     HS Equivalency Diploma

IB                     International Baccalaureate

IMI                     ?

IMS                     ? (8 M)

IRA                     ? (1 M)

ISA__                     Independent Schools Assn of ...

ISBMA                     ? (1 M)

ISD                     Independent School DISTRICT

JTPA                     Federal Job Training and Partnership Act

KC                     Kindergarten Council

MA                     Montessori Assn (also Massachusetts)

MAC                     Montessori Administrators Council

MACTE                     ? (5 M)

MAEO                     Michigan Alternative Education Organization

ME__                     Montessori Educators… (e.g.,  MEI, International)

MF                     Montessori Foundation

MIA                      Montessori Institute of America

__MS                     __ Montessori Society

MS__                     Montessori Schools of ... (A: America)

MSA                     Middle States Assn of Colleges and Schools/Montessori?

MSS                     ?

__MTA                     __ Montessori Teachers of America/Assn?

NAEYC                     National Assn for the Ed of Young Children

NAECP                     National Academy of Early Childhood Programs

NAEEC                     National Academy for Ed of Early Childhood

NAIS                     ?

NAMTA                     North American Montessori Teachers Assn

NCCAA                     ?

NCME                     National Center for Montessori Education

__NE                     __ of New England

NEA                     ?

NIPSA                     National Independent Private Schools Assn

NMSA                     ? (1 Mont)

NWASC                     NW Assn of Schools and Colleges

OE                     Office of Education

OMA                     Oregon Montessori Assn? (2)

OP                     ?

PACE                     ? (3 CA M)

PAMS                     Pan American MS

PAPAS                     Pennsylvania...? (1 Quaker)

PASS                     Portable Assisted Study Sequence

PIC                     Private Industry Council

PNMA                     Pacific Northwest MA

__PS                     __ Public Schools

RSF                     Religious Society of Friends

SACS                     Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

SB                     School Board

SNMC                     St Nicholas' Montessori Centre/College

SNMTA                     St Nicholas' Montessori Teachers Association

__SS                     __ social services

TQM                     ?

USD                     United/Unified Schools DISTRICT

WASC                     Western Assn of Schools and Colleges

WECA  ? (2 WI)


what is required of new staff applicants (eg., state certification)



i.e., assistants; teachers in training


Each feature below has three options. To see how each will appear, just roll over it with your mouse.


Checking “•” means this offering is just one of many subjects taught at the school, whether it’s optional or required.


A subject marked with “+” is an area of emphasis, incorporated into and used across the curriculum but only to a limited extent.


A starred item (*) is a focus of the school; the central feature, core, or format of the program, as in a science or arts-based magnet school.


You can elaborate on any of these choices by choosing “other.” To de-select any choice, hold down the shift key while clicking on it. For more on the three-degree format, see above.


as in “back to basics,” typically the “three R’s”: arithmetic ( math ), reading and writing ( literacy ). Computer literacy ( tech ) is also increasingly considered a basic skill. Also known as a “traditional,” “core,” or “core academic” curriculum.


Language arts. Communication skills: reading, writing and speaking. Also, research.




computer literacy, computer skills. Not to be confused with CAI (computer assisted instruction) or vocational (“technical”) training.

social studies


for gifted STUDENTS


college prep

includes Advanced placement (AP) courses. Implies a rigorous approach.

career education

An overview of occupational choices, as opposed to specific vocational training.

foreign language



visual arts

painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, etc.


chorus, orchestra, band, etc.

performing arts

drama, theatre. Does not cover TV and film production or studies.


a. The languages and literatures of ancient Greece and Rome; the classics.

b. Those branches of knowledge, such as philosophy, literature, and art, that are concerned with human thought and culture; the liberal arts.


environmental studies (ecology, etc.), not outdoor education.


teacher education

a school for teachers, training for new teachers, and/or continuing education for current teachers. See also INTERNS ACCEPTED .


in the natural environment; a.k.a., wilderness, expeditionary, environmental education. See also adventure .

physical ed

sports. Health education must be listed separately.




Technical (not necessarily high tech ) training, school-to-work programs, business principles and entrepreneurial training. See also EXPERIENCE and career education .

practical skills

“Real life” or “survival” skills. Relevant, applicable outside of school.


social skills

         responsibility (overlaps with citizenship), respect for others


integrity, values, “developing principle-centered lives,” morality, ethics, e.g., fairness, honesty. Character education can mean vastly different things to different schools with different values. For more info, see


becoming active participants in the democratic process. For some schools, this simply means voting; for others “social responsibility” means activism: social action for social justice (note that community service appears separately).

self esteem

personal pride





A condensed version of the listing with all information except for BIBLIOGRAPHY and Revision History.


Published or unpublished studies, descriptions, or accounts of the school (list title, author, date, etc). Can be “external” or “internal” (conducted by an outside group or the school itself).

Revision Record


Misc. messages to the management.



Email address, phone number, and/or mailing address, if different from school’s.


The submission or revision date (when the listing was created or revised).

Other Terms in Common Use



like a college in one or more ways, with seminars, majors, and senior papers

Accelerated Learning

A term covering  a wide array of techniques including thematic instruction, integrated arts, visualization, Multiple Intelligences, cooperative learning, and parent involvement. Also known as Superlearning, Suggestopedia, and Whole Brain, Integrative, Quantum or Holistic Learning. For more information, see and


experiential , usually outdoor , involving remarkable and influential occurrences in one's personal history.

arts, the

visual arts , music , and the performing arts . Does not cover film and TV studies or creative writing, which are listed separately.


 research suggesting that kids are natural learners (what a surprise!).


public schools potentially open to all students in a given area, although there are sometimes lotteries or waiting lists. A precursor to charter schools. See ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS.

community involvement

Local organizations, institutions, agencies, or businesses play a part in GOVERNANCE , CURRICULUM, INDIVIDUALIZATION , teaching (at home or at school), or some other aspect of running a school (e.g., activities, fundraising, or maintenance). A.k.a. “community partnerships.” See also AFFILIATION and ACCREDITATION.

concept-based curriculum, Dr. Lynn Erickson's

continuous progress

students grouped by age, though not necessarily in multi-aged classes. See also GROUPING .


high school for overage students. Not to be confused with charter schools that are a “continuation” of (i.e., formerly) another school.


Student & teacher make an agreement/commitment to each other. This can mean that a student has some say in their education, forming a collaborative agreement with the teacher, but the degree of self-direction varies.


          was already a school (public or private) before it became a charter.


a school owned and operated by participating families; parents often serve on staff

cooperative education (co-ops)

work EXPERIENCE at the college level. internships for credit.


Students involved and often in charge of both INDIVIDUALIZATION and GOVERNANCE .

dual enrollment



Engelmann's Direct Instruction APPROACH

“published by McGraw-Hill.” Same as “SRA Direct Instruction”?


essential philosophy

exceptional-learners APPROACH


Enriches and nurtures the growth of the family as well as the child.


Advocates non-coercive education through behavior cards, level system.

Great Books

homeschool resource center

A community learning cooperative which may offer classes, field trips, support groups, legal advice and more. Like home-based education in general, usually community-based . See also “A Community Life Long Learning System” by Bill Ellis, featured on the NonViolence Web, January 1999.


serving economically, ethnically and academically diverse STUDENTS


a private school that may  be AFFILIATED with any number of organizations  but does not answer to any organization,  religious or otherwise,  for its funding, CURRICULUM, or GOVERNANCE . A parochial school, for instance, is not independent  if their CURRICULUM is church-mandated.


Curriculum is customized to some extent for each student. A.k.a. Individualized Learning Plans (ILP), Personalized Learning Plans (PLP), or Individualized Education Program (IEP, specifically for SE students). See also student-centered and INDIVIDUALIZATION .


Math Their Way


Maria Montessori (1870-1952), the first woman physician in Italy, was working with retarded and emotionally disturbed children around the turn of the century when she discovered that they, as well as normal children, learn best through their senses by working with concrete materials. Building on the earlier work of Eduard Seguin, who had taught deaf-mute children, Montessori devised a set of manipulative learning materials that invite children to explore colors, shapes, textures, sounds, language, and even geometric relationships. For example, she designed a series of beautifully colored glass beads to develop numerous mathematical skills.

In a Montessori school, students are free to practice independently or in small groups for much of the day, using specially developed materials.  In fact, the classroom resembles a busy workshop with activity taking place in every direction. At the same time, Montessori educators usually emphasize care, courtesy and orderliness within the environment.

Natural Learning Rhythms

A research-based , developmentally-appropriate approach implemented by the Center for Educational Guidance (P.O. Box 445, North San Juan, CA 95960). Uses terms such as “BodyBeing” and “EmotionalBeing” to describe children's evolving experience and suggests specific activities (such as rites of passage) for helping children transition between stages. See also EnCompass (

non-compulsory class attendance

Does not necessarily mean that you don't have to come to school at all.


EVALUATION without letters or percentages, i.e., that does not compare performance against an objective standard or assign a relative ranking.

open school; open classroom; open education

A non-authoritarian, ungraded , student-centered (and often self-directed), community-based approach pioneered in the 1970’s in NYC by Herb Kohl and perpetuated by the Coalition of Essential Schools ( See also Dorothy Fadiman, “Why Do These Kids Love School?” (video, 1990).

open-entrance, open-exit

no rigid enrollment calendar

Orff Shulwork

an approach to music used primarily in Montessori schools.


Converges high tech with the humanities and combines the rigors of a classical education with the relevance required by contemporary culture. Interdisciplinary program 1501

parent involvement

Parent(s) play a part in either GOVERNANCE , CURRICULUM, INDIVIDUALIZATION , teaching (at home or at school), and/or some other aspect of running a school (e.g., activities, fundraising, or maintenance). This participation can be voluntary or required.

partnership school

performance-based, competency-based, skill-based, mastery learning, learning through ASSESSMENT

you “pass” when you demonstrate proficiency, i.e., you can actually do something (besides answer test questions). Implies non-graded .


presumably grounded in scientific studies of education and childhood development.


one or more of GRADES 7-12 and no grade lower than 7th (e.g. grades 9-12, 7-8,or 10-12).



small school(s) APPROACH

special education

See special needs .


individualized curriculum tailored to each student’s aptitudes, needs, or interests. This can be at the discretion of the teacher, acting “in the best interests of the student” (as in a Montessori school), the student, doing whatever they’re interested in (within reason, as in a free school), or some combination of both (see contracts ). A.k.a., “interest-based.” See INDIVIDUALIZATION . As of 4/04, none of the 88 occurences of this seem to mean that the student decides what she will study.


See CURRICULUM: teacher(s).

umbrella school

for home-based ed... (4, inc. Clonlara, Family Christian Academy)

unified school DISTRICT

combines elementary, middle , and/or high school districts.


home study that is completely self-directed; often involving internships , volunteer work, and other direct participation in the greater community.


Conceived by the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) as a means of cultural and spiritual renewal after the devastation of the First World War. Steiner believed that modern Western society had placed too much emphasis on external, materialistic values, at the expense of the imaginative, creative innermost spirit of the human being. The Waldorf curriculum draws upon the mythologies, legends and arts of the great civilizations through history to awaken the creative and emotional life within every child. Since Steiner emphasized the close relationship between children and the adults who are their mentors and models, a group of students stay together with their teacher each year from first through eighth grades, and teachers are trained to be especially perceptive of children's temperaments and learning styles.


Teaching methods are carefully designed to match the phases of psychological/spiritual development that Steiner identified; for example, since young children learn primarily through sensation, teachers pay close attention to the use of color, form, and music in the environment, and natural materials, such as wood, wool, and cotton, are always used rather than anything plastic or artificial. Early elementary children take in the world primarily through images and feelings, so for these ages Waldorf teachers recite vivid stories and present the curriculum poetically rather than through dry textbook facts. Young children learn through movement, imitation and play, so the teacher leads the class through numerous games, dances and exercises (such as counting or reciting poems while clapping or marching), and introduces them to a unique form of expressive movement, eurhythmy, that Steiner invented. At all stages, imagination and artistic expression are cultivated to the fullest extent possible.

Whole Language

Research-based, hands-on approach to literacy. Teachers provide a language-rich environment (real books, storytelling, discussions, journal and letter writing) and emphasize that reading and writing are relevant, practical skills.





Abbreviation/Acronym                     Meaning


A/V                     audio-visual


AIM                     alternative instructional methods, ?

ALC                     Area Learning Center

ASL                     American Sign Language

CORD                     ?

curr                     CURRICULUM

ESL                     English for speakers of other langu AGES

ft,pt,ht                     full-, part-, half-time

gov                     GOVERNANCE

IEP, ILP                     individualized education/learning plan

lang                     language

LD                     learning disability

MSD                     municipal school district? (IA)

P/F                     pass/fail (grading)

PE                     physical education

PPT                     ?

prog                     program

PTO                   Parent Teacher Organization

req'd                     required

SE                     special education. see special needs

tech                      technology

V, voc                     vocational

x                     phone number extension (eg., 444-5678 x129)


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