Educators don't spell it out

It takes a 53-page booklet to decipher the school district's alphabet scramble.

Published June 12, 2007

LAND O'LAKES - Wanting to know more about the Pasco school district's summer program, you take a look at the explanation provided to the School Board.

"ESE Extended School Year services are being offered to ESE students as determined by the IEP team, " it says. "Funding for the program will be thru SAI, Title I and IDEA."


It's like a foreign language, but one not taught in high school. Luckily, the school district has a guide. At 53 pages, the booklet offers definitions for almost every acronym you're likely to run across in the mounds of paperwork that Pasco schools generate daily.

Let's start with that alphabet soup of a summer school description. Spelled out, it would say: "Exceptional student education extended school year services are being offered to exceptional student education students as determined by the individual education plan team. Funding for the program will be through supplemental academic instruction, Title I and Individuals With Disabilities Education Act."

Still not clear? Here's a stripped down version: Special education students will get summer classes based on the needs identified by their teachers. Their classes will be paid for by state and federal programs.

Call it "educrat-ese, " if you will. It's that language that school district officialdom uses to talk about things that make sense to those who speak it, but can baffle parents, taxpayers, students and even the occasional teacher.

Quick. What's NCLB? DIBELS? How about DOP?

Those are common ones in the lingo. They mean No Child Left Behind, diagnostic inventory of basic early literacy skills, and dropout prevention. Easy.

Here are some tougher ones - WLOTE, SACS-CASI and ABCTE. Give up? Try world languages other than English, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement, and American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence.

They're not always straightforward, either. The district has two meanings for HHS, PPP and a host of other abbreviations. CBA could go three ways. Add an extra S to FASS and it takes on a whole new definition. Drop an S from SDAS and, well, it's just not the same.

You can't even assume that your skills at text messaging will help you out here.

POS in texting: parent over shoulder. In school world, try point of service. AAS in text-ing: alive and smiling. In school world, it's American Association of Suicidology.

Just a couple more, with a truly local flavor. LOL in text-ing would be laughing out loud. Here, it's just Land O'Lakes. WC, you text - who cares? Wesley Chapel, the district says.

Superintendent Heather Fiorentino passed out the acronym guide to the Pasco School Board last week, saying it should help them decipher the documents they vote on each month. Then she smiled and offered perhaps a better way to assist.

"We as a staff are working not to use acronyms so much, " she told the board, echoing Gov. Charlie Crist's move to make government more accessible to the masses.

To which you can easily respond, THX.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at solochek@sptimes.com 813 909-4614 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505 ext. 4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.