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DCS Communications

The communication objective for Dothan City Schools is to improve internal and external communication systems with

the specific goal of creating open, two-way communication between the Board of Education,

administration, staff, students, parents and the citizens of Dothan.


Tips For Our Media Friends:

The correct name of the public school district of Dothan, Alabama, is "The Dothan City Schools" or "Dothan City Schools".  The name is singular in all usages.

The correct name of the governing body of the Dothan City Schools is "The Dothan City Board of Education".

School districts in Alabama are most commonly referred to as "School Systems" but the term "School Districts" is also correct.  All public school districts in Alabama are either County systems or City systems.  There is one county school system for each of the state's 67 counties and there are 65 city school systems (Jefferson County has 11; 27 counties have none).

Educational Terms and Acronyms Often Used:


AASA American Association of School Administrators
ACCESS: Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators, and Students Statewide - state program where students take class work not offered at their school through web sites and video conferencing with certified teachers.
Achievement Gap: the difference in test scores between ethnic groups, between students from high- and low-income households, and students for whom English is not their primary language. Reasons for these achievement gaps may include the inability of all parents to be involved equally, language and cultural barriers, and poverty.
Adopt-A-School! Dothan: A network of business and community people willing to contribute human and financial resources. These resources include adopters serving as a educational partners to a school, a specific teacher or staff member, specified classrooms, individual students, or a specific DCS program/or activity.
ADW: Alabama Direct Assessment Writing - state writing assessment for grades 5, 7, 10
AHSGE: Alabama High School Graduation Exam
alternative assessment: An assessment in which students originate a response to a task or question. Such responses could include demonstrations, exhibits, portfolios, oral presentations, or essays.
Alabama State Department of Education
AMAO:  Annual Measureable Achievement Objectives
AP: Advanced Placement - enables high school students to compete courses for college placement and/or credit
AOD: Alternate Occupational Diploma
ARC: Accelerated Recovery Center (an alternative to conventional high school)
ARMT- Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test.  One of several state required assessments used for accountability.
at risk: A term applied to students who are at risk of educational failure due to lack of services, negative life events, or physical or mental challenges, among others.
AYP: Adequate Yearly Progress


benchmark: Statement that provides a description of student knowledge expected at specific grades, ages, or developmental levels. Benchmarks often are used in conjunction with standards.
benchmark performances: Performance examples against which other performances may be judged.
Best Practice(s) - technique or method that, through experience and research, has proven reliably lead to a desired result.
BOE: Board of Education


collaborative learning or cooperative learning: An instructional approach in which students of varying abilities and interests work together in small groups to solve a problem, complete a project, or achieve a common goal.
Co-owned strategic plan: A plan between the community and DCS to address target areas for improvement of schools over a specific period of time.
Core Academic Subjects: Core academic subjects are English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign language, civics and government, economics, art (music, theatre, and art), history, geography, social studies, and speech
CNP: Child Nutrition Program
criterion-referenced assessment: An assessment that measures what a student understands, knows, or can accomplish in relation to specific performance objectives. It is used to identify a student's specific strengths and weaknesses in relation to skills defined as the goals of the instruction, but it does not compare students to other students.
critical thinking:
Logical thinking that draws conclusions from facts and evidence.
(plural curricula): A plan of instruction that details what students are to know, how they are to learn it, what the teacher's role is, and the context in which learning and teaching will take place.


data-driven decision making: A process of making decisions about curriculum and instruction based on the analysis of classroom data and standardized test data. Data-driven decision making uses data on function, quantity and quality of inputs, and how students learn to suggest educational solutions. It is based on the assumption that scientific methods used to solve complex problems in industry can effectively evaluate educational policy, programs, and methods.
DIBELS- Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills.  A state required assessment given to Kindergarten, First, and Second grade students for accountability.  Tracks the development of reading skills.
DCS: Dothan City Schools
Dothan Education Foundation: An independent, nonprofit organization developed to provide Dothan City Schools with funding to help pay for special projects, events and programs that cannot be paid for within the allocated school's budget.
DTC:  Dothan Technology Center


ERIC Educational Resources Information Center
equity: The state of educational impartiality and fairness in which all children—minorities and nonminorities, males and females, successful students and those who fall behind, students with special needs and students who have been denied access in the past—receive a high-quality education and have equal access to the services they need in order to benefit from that education.
ESL: English as a Second Language
ESS: Exceptional Student Services


facilitator: A role for classroom teachers that allows students to take a more active role in learning. Teachers assist students in making connections between classroom instruction and students' own knowledge and experiences by encouraging students to create new solutions, by challenging their assumptions, and by asking probing questions.


GPA: Grade Point Average
Graduation and dropout rates: The graduation rate is the number of students who graduate divided by the number of students who drop out.


"hands-on/minds-on" activities: Activities that engage students' physical as well as mental skills to solve problems. Students devise a solution strategy, predict outcomes, activate or perform the strategy, reflect on results, and compare end results with predictions.
heterogeneous grouping:
Grouping together students of varying abilities, interests, or ages.
higher-order questions:
Questions that require thinking and reflection rather than single-solution responses.
higher-order thinking skills:
Understanding complex concepts and applying sometimes conflicting information to solve a problem, which may have more than one correct answer.
Highly Qualified Teacher: A highly qualified teacher is defined as one who has obtained a full state teacher certification or has passed the state teacher licensing examination and holds a license to teach in the state; holds a minimum of a bachelor's degree; and has demonstrated subject area competence in each of the academic subjects in which the teacher teaches.
HSTW: High Schools That Work


- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
IEP- Individual Education Program
IES: Institute of Educational Sciences (U.S. Department of Education).
informal knowledge: Knowledge about a topic that children learn through experience outside of the classroom.
iNow: Information Now - the program used by Alabama schools for grades, attendance, etc.
interdiscipinary curriculum: A curriculum that consciously applies the methodology and language from more than one discipline to examine a central theme, issue, problem, topic, or experience.
Intervention Reading Program -
A highly structured curricula designed for those students who are “At Risk” or “Strategic” as identified by DIBELS and who have not responded adequately to Core Reading Instruction and Supplemental Instruction.  Intervention time is in addition to the 90 minutes of core reading instruction.
inquiry: A process in which students investigate a problem, devise and work through a plan to solve the problem, and propose a solution to the problem.
In School Suspension




LD-Learning Disabilities. One of 13 eligibility codes for special education.
LEA- Local Education Agency
learner-centered classroom: Classroom in which students are encouraged to choose their own learning goals and projects. This approach is based on the belief that students have a natural inclination to learn, learn better when they work on real or authentic tasks, benefit from interacting with diverse groups of people, and learn best when teachers understand and value the difference in how each student learns.
LINC: Learning in Consultation. The enrichment program of Dothan City Schools that serves 15% of the high-end students in the non-magnet population in elementary and middle schools.
LRE- Least Restrictive Environment.


manipulative: Any physical object (e.g., blocks, toothpicks, coins) that can be used to represent or model a problem situation or develop a mathematical concept.
matrix sampling:
An assessment method in which no student completes the entire assessment but each completes a portion of the assessment. Portions are allotted to different, representative samples of students. Group (rather than individual) scores are obtained for an analysis of school or district performance.
modeling: Demonstrating to the learner how to do a task, with the expectation that the learner can copy the model. Modeling often involves thinking aloud or talking about how to work through a task.
MMGW: Making Middle Grades Work


NAEP: National Assessment of Educational Progress
National Association for State Boards of Education
NCLB: No Child Left Behind
NCTE National Council of Teachers of English
NCTM National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
NEA National Education Association
norm-referenced assessment:An assessment designed to discover how an individual student's performance or test result compares to that of an appropriate peer group.


OLSAT: Otis Lenon Student Ability Test - measures students ability given with the SAT
open-ended question: A question that has many avenues of access and allows students to respond in a variety of ways. Such questions have more than one correct answer.
open-ended task:
A performance task in which students are required to generate a solution or response to a problem when there is no single correct answer.
open-response task:
A performance task in which students are required to generate an answer rather than select an answer from among several possible answers, but there is a single correct response.
Other Academic Indicator: Schools must meet the "other academic indicator" in order to meet AYP. For high schools, this is graduation rate, and for elementary and middle schools, this is meet or maintain progress from the previous year.
outcome-based education: An integrated system of educational programs that aligns specific student outcomes, instructional methods, and assessment.


pacing guide: The pacing guide is the order in which objectives will be taught in a certain course.
PARCA: Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama
PASS Academy:  Dothan City Schools' alternative learning center which Provides Alternative Student Services
PD: Professional Development
parent portal:
An internet link for parents to gain access to their child's grades, attendance, discipline, as well as other important information
performance assessment: Systematic and direct observation of a student performance or examples of student performances and ranking according to preestablished performance criteria. Students are assessed on the result as well as the process engaged in a complex task or creation of a product.
performance criteria:
A description of the characteristics to be assessed for a given task. Performance criteria may be general, specific, analytical trait, or holistic. They may be expressed as a scoring rubric or scoring guide.
performance task: An assessment exercise that is goal directed. The exercise is developed to elicit students' application of a wide range of skills and knowledge to solve a complex problem.
The ability to do something at grade level.
portfolio assessment:
An assessment process that is based on the collection of student work (such as written assignments, drafts, artwork, and presentations) that represents competencies, exemplary work, or the student's developmental progress.
problem solving: A method of learning in which students evaluate their thinking and progress while solving problems. The process includes strategy discussion--determining solution strategies to similar problems and pinpointing additional problems within the context of their investigation.
Progress Monitoring: A scientifically based practice that is used to access students’ academic performance and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction.  On going monitoring of student scoring Intensive or Strategic on the DIBELS assessment to determine if interventions are successful.  Developers of the DIBELS assessment recommend biweekly progress monitoring of Intensive students and monthly progress monitoring for Strategic students.
PTA: Parent Teacher Association
: Parent Teacher Organization
PTSO: Parent Teacher Student Organization


reliability: An indicator of score consistency over time or across multiple evaluators. Reliable assessment is one in which the same answers receive the same score regardless of who performs the scoring or how or where the scoring takes place. The same person is likely to get approximately the same score across multiple test administrations.
Response to Intervention
rubrics: Specific criteria or guidelines used to evaluate student work.


SAT: Stanford Achievement Test.  One of several state assessments required for accountability.
An instructional technique in which the teacher breaks a complex task into smaller tasks, models the desired learning strategy or task, provides support as students learn to do the task, and then gradually shifts responsibility to the students. In this manner, a teacher enables students to accomplish as much of a task as possible without adult assistance.
The range of scores possible for the student to achieve on a test or an assessment.
School Improvement: A school is in its first year of "school improvement" when it has not made AYP for two consecutive years. In order to exit school improvement status it must make AYP for two consecutive years. A school can be identified for a second year of school improvement if it does not make AYP for another year, after initially being identified as in need of improvement.
scientific knowledge: Knowledge that provides people with the conceptual and technological tools to explain and describe how the world works.
scoring guide:
A set of guidelines for rating student work. A scoring guide describes what is being assessed, provides a scoring scale, and helps the teacher or rater correctly place work on the scale.
: Specific Learning Disabilities.  One of 13 eligibility codes for special education.
SREB: Southern Regional Education Board - consulting board which assists with reform initiatives to raise student achievement.  "High Schools and Middle Schools That Work" are through this initiative.
SRO: School Resource Officer - site based law enforcement officer provided by the Dothan Police Department, one is assigned to both high schools, PASS Academy and the middle schools.
standardized tests: Assessments that are administered and scored in exactly the same way for all students. Traditional standardized tests are typically mass-produced and machine-scored; they are designed to measure skills and knowledge that are thought to be taught to all students in a fairly standardized way. Performance assessments also can be standardized if they are administered and scored in the same way for all students.
Statements of what students should know and be able to demonstrate. Various standards have been developed by national organizations, state departments of education, districts, and schools.



teaching for understanding: A teaching method that focuses on the process of understanding as the goal of learning rather than simply the development of specific skills. It focuses on forming connections and seeing relationships among facts, procedures, concepts, and principles, and between prior and new knowledge.
In education, a branch of knowledge based on the development and implementation of computers, software, and other technical tools, and the assessment and evaluation of students' educational outcomes resulting from their use of technology tools.
Title I: Title I provides federal funding for schools to help students who are behind academically or at risk of falling behind. Funding is based on the number of low income children in a school, generally those eligible for the free & reduced lunch program. Title I supplements state and district funds. Schools receiving Title I money involve parents in deciding how these funds are spend and in reviewing process. Title I used to be called Chapter I.
traditional assessment: An assessment in which students select responses from a multiple-choice list, a true/false list, or a matching list.
Transition plan- a plan that addresses needs related to transition between school and post-secondary opportunities.  This plan is required for special education students no later than age 16 and is addressed in the IEP.



validity: An indication that an assessment instrument consistently measures what it is designed to measure, excluding extraneous features from such measurement. 


Wiregrass 2-1-1: A United Way agency that provides families with shelter, food and clothing assistance.  Dial 2-1-1.
Wiregrass Foundation: A private foundation promoting philanthropy and a spirit of giving in the local community.



YWCD: Yes We Can! Dothan.  The “Yes We Can! Dothan” education movement is a community, grassroots, citizen driven initiative designed to engage the citizens of Dothan, Alabama, in creating a unified voice and vision for Dothan City Schools, the children, and the families served. It is not related to any politics or political group.











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