The Atlantic

Will These Education Buzzwords Persevere Under Trump?

Ten concepts that gained lots of traction under the Obama administration
Source: PeopleImages / Getty / Paul Spella / Katie Martin / The Atlantic

School choice may be the popular kid in the education-jargon lunchroom right now, but it’s certainly not the only term that’s gotten a lot of buzz. Education Secretary-nominee Betsy DeVos will almost certainly bring with her a new set of vocabulary terms, but that doesn’t mean the U.S. Education Department will sharply depart from the education concepts the Obama administration either popularized or helped propagate. Education-related vocabulary tends to be needlessly clunky, but these 10 terms from the past eight years may—or may not—have some staying power.


Definition: When there is a statistically significant difference in two groups of students’ test scores, that difference is known as the achievement gap. Simply put, there is hard evidence of disparities in performance based on factors like race, gender, and socioeconomic status. One of the most mainstream of the buzzwords on this list, the existence of the achievement gap is oftentimes used as a catch-all to explain the failures of the education system to act as an engine of upward mobility.

Background: This term has been around for a while, but it gained extra prominence under the Obama administration. The National Center for Education Statistics has studied the achievement gaps between white and Hispanic students as well as white and black students, and one goal of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative was to help close these disparities. Some research shows charter schools—for which DeVos has strongly advocated—are effective in shrinking the achievement gap, though other research asserts

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