The Official Education Rephorm Lexicon

A portfolio is a discredited approach to education reform and a brief case in which papers explaining the excellence of said approach can be carried.

Reader: like you I spend many hours each day aligning myself with the new Common Core standards. And already the payoff has been huge. My scores on the standardized tests that I administer to myself three times per week have risen incredibly, while my Value Added has also shot up, except around the house where I continue to refuse to lift a finger. Nowhere has my improvement been more excellent than in mastering new vocabulary. Yesterday alone I acquired two new Tier Seven vocabulary terms: oenophile and Jeroboam.

Now I realize that not everyone has the time and high expectations required to wade through the Common Core Language Strand in the manner that I am doing. That’s why EduShyster is pleased to offer her very own direct, deep-level Instructional Strategies to help readers acquire new vocabulary. Note: these strategies cannot be used by LIFO lifer teachers as their union contracts prohibit them from additional vocabulary acquisition. Today’s lesson: words with multiple meanings, specifically terms from the official Education Rephorm Lexicon that mean one thing in common parlance, another when sent spinning through the Rephorm-a-tron.™ Ready readers? 

Choice: An act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities; an excellent and innovative approach to education in which consumers select education options much like they would pizza toppings. “When Rosa’s charter school suddenly closed its doors after an embezzlement scandal, Rosa had a choice of which school to attend the next day.”

Status quo: The existing condition or state of affairs; the stasis preferred or required by members of teachers unions, whose rigid and very heavy contracts prohibit them from embracing freshness and innovation. “While the city and its schools have endured the same failed reforms for nearly two decades, these remain ‘fresh,’ ‘innovative’ and not at all status quo-ish.”

Portfolio: a type of briefcase; a system in which school districts manage a portfolio of diverse schools that are provided in many ways—including through traditional district operation, charter operators, and nonprofit organizations—and hold all schools accountable for performance. Despite mounting evidence that the portfolio approach was actually deepening inequality, its advocates continued to promote it aggressively, arriving in school system after school system, portfolios stuffed with flow charts and jargon-laden reports.” **Double points for using multiple meanings in single sentence.

Value added: Having features added to a basic line or model for which the buyer is prepared to pay extra; Complex, often nonsensical systems that attempt to measure the impact of a teacher on individual students through the course of a single school year. “The complexity of the value-added system was such that the education consultants could justify charging the school district a little extra for its development and implementation.”

Merit pay: Extra pay awarded to an employee on the basis of merit; the widely discredited concept of paying teachers according to their effectiveness at raising student achievement as measured by standardized tests and complex value-added models (see above).  “The education reformers’ high-profile jobs merit pay far higher than that received by the educators they spend their days bashing.”

Poverty: The state of being poor; lack of the means of providing material needs or comforts; an excuse. “While the hedge fund manager has no experience of poverty, he understands instinctively that it is not an excuse for failing to attain excellence and master the 21st century skills that have served him so well at Honey Badger Management.”

What is your favorite #edreform buzz word? Send it to


  1. How about differentiation, professional learning communities, staff development, and last, but definitely not least, rigor?

  2. Accountability: the quality or state of being accountable; especially : an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions (Merriam- Webster)
    For example: Teacher- educators who want valid measures of accountability are considered haters by individuals whose recommendations are never held to rigorous, accountability standards. (e.g., Arne Duncan, The Milken Foundation, Wendy Kopp, KIPP, TfA, K-12, Jeb Bush, Michelle Rhee, Bobbie Jindal, White Hat Charter Management, etc)

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