Glossary of private school terms

Accreditation/accredited school Through peer evaluation, schools must meet standards for education, operations and staff competence, as defined by an independent agency (for example, the Canadian Association of Independent Schools or the Canadian Educational Standards Institute).
Admissions test A standard test used to evaluate an applicant’s potential academic success.
Advanced placement A program that allows students to take university-level courses in high school.
Adviser system Many independent schools assign each child an adult adviser, who knows the student well and sees the child frequently. Generally, this is also the key contact at the school for parents. Most schools will schedule time, sometimes daily, for advisory groups to meet for group and individual activities.
Bursaries Funding given to students who demonstrate a financial need and meet academic requirements. Bursaries do not need to be repaid.
Distance learning Taking classes somewhere other than the classroom, often via computer or video conferencing.
Experiential education Education that emphasizes personal or hands-on experience, such as outdoor education, leadership development, community service learning and field trips or studies.
Gifted Describes a student who demonstrates a high level of ability and who needs special instructional services to achieve at that level.
Inclusion A set of practices and beliefs that all children, regardless of disabilities, should be educated together to ensure they are included in the regular educational program, rather than in separate classes.
Independent schools Some accreditation bodies have focused on highlighting that schools within their organization are independent of government funding, independent schools are essentially synonymous with private schools.
International Baccalaureate Run by the International Baccalaureate Organization, this is a challenging program of international education and rigorous assessment that spans primary, middle and secondary school.
Montessori education A system primarily for ages three to six years, devised by Dr. Maria Montessori (1870–1952) who advocated a child-centred approach.
Prep schools “Preparatory” schools are intended to get students ready for college or university.
Private schools These schools are established and controlled privately, and funded by endowments and tuition.
SSAT The Secondary School Admission Test is an academic exam required by some schools as part of their admissions process. It usually consists of two parts, including an essay and a multiple-choice aptitude test, gauging a student’s ability to solve mathematical problems, comprehension and language use.
Scholarships A type of financial aid that does not have to be repaid, scholarships come from many sources, including community groups, schools and private corporations. They are awarded to students who demonstrate or show potential for achievement.
Waldorf education Developed by Rudolf Steiner in 1919, the Waldorf approach strives to transform education into an art that educates the whole child.

Sources: The Association of Waldorf Schools in North America, the Canadian Association of Independent Schools, the National Association of Independent Schools, Princeton University, the U.S. Department of Education.


—Juanita Losch
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