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  • Writer's pictureRachel Langan

What do all those acronyms mean?

Good Monday morning! Today we’d like to share a glossary to help you identify and understand the acronyms that you will learn about here at Back to Basics. The glossary is a work in progress and will be updated continually. The glossary is posted below but can also be found on the menu bar of our home page.


If you're looking to dig deeper into the meaning behind the buzz words, take a look at this video from Parents Defending Education on Understanding Activist Jargon.


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Back to Basics West Chester

Glossary of Acronyms*


AFT = American Federation of Teachers

The AFT is one of two national teachers’ unions and primarily represents teachers who work in large, urban school districts.


ALICE = Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate

ALICE is an active shooter response training program that is in the process of being implemented in the WCASD.


CRT = Critical Race Theory

CRT is an academic construct that around the belief that race is a social construct.


DEI = Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

  • Tech Week defines DEI as: “Policies and programs that promote the representation and participation of different groups of individuals, including people of different ages, races and ethnicities, abilities and disabilities, genders, religions, cultures and sexual orientations.”

  • Wikipedia defines DEI as: “. . . a training format in the workplace . . . utilized to encourage functional knowledge of fellow employees' identities and how to navigate diversity in an organization.”

  • Wikipedia adds this to explain DEI in a K12 setting: “The creation and upkeep of a safe and supported environment for diverse students. In democratic leaning states, some schools have even created administrative positions focused on DEI and social responsibility. Such positions exist with the goal of creating allies for students through resources and staff training in order to support students facing social disparities.


FOIA = Freedom of Information Act

A law giving the public the right to request access to records from any federal agency. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government.


FERPA = Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

A federal law that affords parents the right to have access to their children's education records.


NEA = National Education Association

The NEA is one of two national teachers’ unions but identifies as a professional organization rather than a trade union.


OOR = Office of Open Records

The ORR is the agency that oversees Right To Know (RTK) requests in Pennsylvania.


PAC = Political Action Committee

A political committee organized for the purpose of raising and spending money to elect and defeat candidates.


PSBA = Pennsylvania School Board Association

A non-profit, statewide association of public school boards. Similar to a union, but for school board members.


PSEA = Pennsylvania State Education Association

The NEA is the parent organization for the PSEA. The NEA guides educational policy nationally and the PSEA focuses on implementing those national policies here in Pennsylvania.


PSSA = Pennsylvania System School Assessment

The annual standardized achievement tests given to children (grades 3-8) attending public schools in Pennsylvania.


RTK = Right To Know

The Pennsylvania law that allows citizens access to public records.


SAT = A standardized test usually required for college admittance.

Originally called the Scholastic Aptitude Test, and later the Scholastic Assessment Test. The acronym SAT no longer stands for anything but is the actual name of the test.


SEL = Social Emotional Learning

Wikipedia defines SEL as “an educational method that aims to foster social and emotional skills within school curricula. SEL is also referred to as "socio-emotional learning", "social and emotional learning", or "social–emotional literacy.”


WCAEA = West Chester Area Education Association

The WCAEA is the local teacher’s union. (See also NEA and PSEA)


WCASD = West Chester Area School District


WCU = West Chester University


*Acronyms are briefly defined. These topics will be explored in more detail through various posts on each topic.

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