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ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show

2016 ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show

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Books in Translation

A Lexicon of Learning

What Educators Mean When They Say...

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  Y  Z   |   Table of Contents


habits of mind

Mental attitudes and ways of behaving that contribute to success in life, such as being able to make a plan and follow it or to make decisions based on sound information. The habits of mind sought in the Dimensions of Learning program are grouped under the headings of critical thinking, creative thinking, and self-regulated learning.

Head Start

Established in 1965, Head Start is intended to foster healthy development of low-income children to help them succeed in school. Head Start and Early Head Start are federally sponsored, comprehensive child development programs that serve children from birth to age 5 as well as pregnant women and their families. Head Start grantee and delegate agencies offer a range of individualized services in the areas of education and early childhood development; medical, dental, and mental health; nutrition; and parent involvement.

health education

A planned, sequential K-12 curriculum that addresses the physical, mental, emotional, and social dimensions of health. The curriculum is designed to motivate and help students maintain and improve their health, prevent disease, and reduce health-related risk behaviors. It allows students to develop and demonstrate increasingly sophisticated health-related knowledge, attitudes, skills, and practices. 

The comprehensive curriculum includes a variety of topics such as personal health, family health, community health, consumer health, environmental health, sexuality education, mental and emotional health, injury prevention and safety, nutrition, prevention and control of disease, and substance use and abuse. Qualified, trained teachers provide health education.

Source: From "A Coordinated School Health Program" by the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Retrieved April 2, 2002, from

heterogeneous grouping

Intentionally mixing students of varying talents and needs in the same classroom (the opposite of homogeneous grouping). The success of this method, also called mixed-ability grouping, depends on the teacher's skill in differentiating instruction so that all students feel challenged and successful. Advocates say heterogeneous grouping prevents lower-track classes from becoming dumping grounds and ensures that all students have access to high-status content. Opponents say it is difficult for teachers to manage, hampers the brightest children from moving at an accelerated pace, and contributes to watering down the curriculum.

hidden curriculum

The habits and values taught in schools that are not specified in the official written curriculum. May refer to what critics see as an overemphasis on obedience, dependence, and conformity.

higher-order thinking

Researcher Lauren Resnick has defined higher-order thinking as the kind of thinking needed when the path to finding a solution is not specified, and that yields multiple solutions rather than one. Higher-order thinking requires mental effort because it involves interpretation, self-regulation, and the use of multiple criteria, which may be conflicting.

Teachers who seek to develop students' higher-order thinking abilities engage them in analyzing, comparing, contrasting, generalizing, problem solving, investigating, experimenting, and creating, rather than only in recalling information. Other terms used to refer to higher-order thinking include critical thinking, complex reasoning, and thinking skills.

high-stakes tests

Tests used to determine which individual students get rewards, honors, or sanctions. Low-stakes tests are used primarily to improve student learning. Tests with high stakes attached include college entrance examinations and tests students must pass to be promoted to the next grade. Tests affecting the status of schools, such as those on which a given percentage of students must receive a passing grade, are also considered high stakes.

holistic learning

A theory of education that places importance on the complete experience of learning and the ways in which the separate parts of the learning experience are interrelated. Canadian scholar John Miller defines holistic learning as essentially concerned with connections in human experience, such as the connections among mind and body, rational thought and intuition, various subject matters, and the individual in society.


Teaching children at home instead of sending them to public or private schools. Over the past decade, the number of homeschooling families has grown dramatically. In the mid-1980s there were only about 15,000 homeschools, but by 1994 the Department of Education estimated the number at about 345,000. A federal report issued in 2001 estimated that in 1999, the most recent year studied, at least 850,000 students were learning at home; some experts believe the figure may now be more like 1.5 million. If so, homeschooled children would be about 4 percent of the total K–12 population.

State laws on the subject vary, but laws are changing rapidly in response to changing conditions. At one time many families chose homeschooling for religious reasons, but more are doing so now because of apparent dissatisfaction with the quality of public education. Families are beginning to network their homeschooling efforts with other families, and in some places, home schools and public schools are working together to benefit all the students. For example, some states and school districts permit homeschooled students to enroll part-time for particular classes or to participate in student activities.

homogeneous grouping

Assigning students to separate classes according to their apparent abilities. Placing students in groups for all their classes based supposedly on their general learning ability has been called tracking

For example, college-bound students might have all of their classes together while vocational students and special education students would attend other classes. In its most extreme form, tracking has been declared illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court and is considered a violation of students' civil rights. 

Alternatively, students may be grouped according to their achievement in particular subjects. For example, a student might be in an above-average science course but an average English course. Strictly speaking, this form of ability grouping is not tracking, although the results may be similar, so opponents sometimes call it tracking anyway.

Proponents of ability grouping believe it allows students to excel within their levels. Less capable students are not intimidated by their more capable peers, and gifted students are not bored by the slower pace considered necessary for regular students. Critics say tracking is undemocratic, allows unequal access to higher-level content, and creates low self-esteem. Opponents also say that students who learn more slowly become subject to lower expectations from teachers.


This document contains some material that was previously published in The Language of Learning: A Guide to Educational Terms, edited by J. Lynn McBrien and Ronald Brandt, 1997, ASCD.