Glossary of Education Terms

Education, like every profession, has its own language. That means that the school search process often brings with it vocabulary and ideas that may be new to you. So, we made a glossary to help clear the confusion. We’d love your help expanding it! If you have suggestions for topics to add, please contact us.

AP (Advanced Placement)

AP is a program created by a non-profit organization called College Board that offers college-level school work (AP classes) and exams (AP tests) to high school students. Many colleges and universities in the United States grant placement and course credit to students who earn high scores on their AP tests.


Constructivist learning is based on the belief that learning happens as learners are actively involved in a process of constructing their own meaning and knowledge as opposed to passively receiving information from teachers. Teachers provide the tools and guidance so that students can be the makers of meaning and knowledge.

Dual Language Immersion

In a dual language program instruction is provided to students in two languages. The goal is for students to be proficient and literate in both languages by the time they finish the program (which takes multiple years). Variations of this type of program are also called Dual Language, Partial Immersion, Full Immersion, One-way Dual Immersion.

Elementary School

Sometimes referred to as lower or primary school, elementary school starts in kindergarten and generally goes through 5th grade. In Kansas City, a few elementary schools end in 4th grade and others continue through 6th. Please check the individual school listings on this website to see if the school you’re considering has the grades you need.

ELL (English Language Learner)

Students who are new to the English language or are working toward proficiency are called English Language Learners or ELLs.

Extended Care/After Care

These programs extend the school day with care, activities and homework time for children whose families need (or want) to drop them off earlier or pick them up later than the regular school day.

Extracurricular Activities

These are activities that happen outside of the regular school curriculum. They might include sports, drama, art, robotics, gardening, student government, music, etc. Extracurricular activities are generally optional and not required by the school.

High School

High school is typically comprised of grades 9 through 12.

IB (International Baccalaureate)

IB is an international educational program based in Switzerland and followed to various degrees in several Kansas City schools. The International Baccalaureate organization has specific guidelines that IB programs must follow in order for schools to be officially labeled IB.

IEP (Individualized Education Plan)

An IEP is a document created for any student who needs special education services. It spells out each child’s unique learning issues and specific educational goals.


If charter schools have more applications than seats available, the schools conduct a lottery in which students are randomly selected. Once each grade is full, individuals will be added to the waitlist.

Middle School

Middle school is the step that comes between elementary and high school. In Kansas City, particular schools encompass different grades in their middle schools. Some middle schools include 5th through 8th grades. Others start with 6th grade and go through 8th. Please check the individual school listings on this website to see if the school you’re considering has the grades you need.

PBL (Project Based Learning)

Students work together to explore big driving questions as a means to learning academic content and developing modern-world skills. Their learning happens through large, open-ended projects. Teachers act as guides and facilitators to develop the big questions and focus the learning.


STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. STEAM adds Art into that mix.


When a school has no more seats available, but there are still students who are interested in attending, the school will put these students on a waitlist. As space becomes available, students on the waitlist are contacted in order and given some limited time to respond with whether or not they’d like to take the newly opened seat. In some cases, seats may open after the school year has started.