Eligibility for National School Lunch Program: Student eligibility for this program, which provides free or reduced-price lunches, is a commonly used indicator for family poverty. Eligibility information is part of the administrative data kept by schools and is based on parent-reported family income and family size.
Longitudinal studies: Researchers follow the same group of students over a period of years, such as from kindergarten through fifth grade. These studies can show achievement gains in a particular subject from grade to grade.
Repeating cross-sectional studies: This type of research focuses on how a specific group of students performs in a particular year then looks at the performance of a similar group of students at a later point in time. An example would be comparing fourth graders in 1990 to fourth graders in 2005.
Scale score: Scale scores place students on a continuous achievement scale based on their overall performance on the assessment. Each assessment program develops its own scales.
High schools: Schools that have at least one grade higher than 8 and no grade in K–6.
Main teaching assignment field: The field in which teachers teach the most classes in school.
Major: A field of study in which an individual has taken substantial academic coursework at the postsecondary level, implying that the individual has substantial knowledge of the academic discipline or subject area.
Middle schools: Schools that have any of grades 5–8 and no grade lower than 5 and no grade higher than 8.
Secondary schools: Schools that have any of grades 7–12 and no grade in K–6.
Teaching certification: A license or certificate awarded to teachers by the state to teach in a public school. The SASS surveys include five types of certification: (1) regular or standard state certification or advanced professional certificate; (2) probationary certificate issued to persons who satisfy all requirements except the completion of a probationary period; (3) provisional certificate issued to persons who are still participating in what the state calls an "alternative certification program"; (4) temporary certificate issued to persons who need some additional college coursework, student teaching, and/or passage of a test before regular certification can be obtained; and (5) emergency certificate issued to persons with insufficient teacher preparation who must complete a regular certification program to continue teaching.
Postsecondary education: The provision of a formal instructional program with a curriculum designed primarily for students who have completed the requirements for a high school diploma or its equivalent. These programs include those with an academic, vocational, or continuing professional education purpose and exclude vocational and adult basic education programs.
Advanced Placement: Courses that teach college-level material and skills to high school students who can earn college credits by demonstrating advanced proficiency on a final course exam. The curricula and exams for AP courses, available for a wide range of academic subjects, are developed by the College Board.