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Glossary of Terms

This glossary contains terms found in Commission publications, on this website, and in the education community. Several subsets of this glossary are available; click on the description in the menu to view them.

Definitions of K-12 Terms

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Academic Performance Index (API)

The Academic Performance Index (API) is the cornerstone of California's Public Schools Accountability Act of 1999 (PSAA). The purpose of the API is to measure the academic performance and growth of schools. It is a numeric index (or scale) that ranges from a low of 200 to a high of 1000. A school's score on the API is an indicator of a school's performance level. The statewide API performance target for all schools is 800. A school's growth is measured by how well it is moving toward or past that goal. A school's API Base is subtracted from its API Growth to determine how much the school improved in a year.

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Academic Year

An academic year is the period of time K-12, colleges and universities use to measure a quantity of study. Academic years vary from school to school. Typically, the length of an academic year runs August/September through May/June. The academic year usually equates to two semesters, two trimesters, three quarters, or the period covered by a 4-1-4 calendar system. The Commission has standardized its data around an academic year starting with the Summer term or session and ending with the Spring term or session. For example, the 2004-05 academic year consists of the Summer 2004, Fall 2004, Winter 2005, and Spring 2005 terms.

Achievement Gap

The U.S. Department of Education describes the achievement gap as the difference in academic performance between different ethnic groups.

In California, the gap is defined as the disparity between white students and other ethnic groups and between English learners and native English speakers, socioeconomically disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged, and students with disabilities as compared to students without disabilities.

A-G Courses

Refers to the University of California's Subject Requirement for admission, prospective freshmen must complete a series of high school courses known as the "a-g" requirements. The "a-g" requirements include 16 units of high school courses, seven units of which must be taken in the last two years of high school. A unit is equal to one academic year, or two semesters, of study. In the Commission databases, the "a-g" Completions indicate the number of high school graduates that completed all "a-g" courses with a grade of C or higher.

The Requirements are in the following subjects:

  • (a) History/Social Science
  • (b) English
  • (c) Mathematics
  • (d) Lab Science
  • (e) Lang Other Than English
  • (f) Visual & Performing Arts
  • (g) College Prep Elective

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AP

Acronym for Advanced Placement Program, referring to high school courses that prepare students to take examinations which allow them to earn college credits while in high school and, therefore, lessen the time it takes to earn a baccalaureate degree.

ATP Code

The American Testing Program (ATP) Code or College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) Code is a 6-digit number that is used by standardized tests such as SAT and ACT. The first 2 digits indicate the state; all California schools start with "05". The ATP Code is a 4-digit number for higher education institutions.

Attrition

Students that leave or dropout prior to completion of their education program.

CDE

Acronym for the California Department of Education.

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CDS Code

The CDS (County-District-School) code system is an administrative convenience designed to provide the California Department of Education (CDE), the Department of Finance (DOF), and postsecondary institutions with a basis for tracking schools. The CDS code is a unique identifier that allows schools to be easily sorted and tracked in databases. This 14-digit code is the official, unique identification of a school within California. The first two digits identify the county, the next five digits identify the school district, and the last seven digits identify the school. A CDS code is a number assigned to a school. CDS codes are not assigned to programs. Evidence that the entity is a school rather than a program is provided by the governing board action approving formation of the school and board action establishing the school. Governing boards can act only by a majority vote at a public meeting (Education Code 1011, 1013, 1040, 35163, 35164; Government Code 54950 and following (the Brown Act)).

Charter School

Schools run independently of the traditional public school system but receiving public funding, run by groups such as teachers, parents, or foundations. Charter schools are free of many district regulations and are often tailored to community needs.

Magnet School

A public primary or secondary school that places special emphasis on a particular field such as science or art and is designed to attract students with a specific interest, talent, or background.

Record ID

A unique identifier of a school/institution in the Crosswalk table.

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