How many eighth graders can explain the meaning of the word oligarchy? What about antebellum, or insurrection? These are words that eighth-grade students should be familiar with when it comes to their social studies curriculum, and a new plan in Tennessee is working to make sure that this happens, according to the Washington Post.
The purpose of the Academic Vocabulary Project is to close the gap between students from low-income families and their more financially stable peers. The former often lag behind in many areas of school, and vocabulary is an especially stubborn problem.
Two things about this program make it stand out to me: that it was established well before the state came out as a winner last month in the “Race to the Top” program, and that it is not specifically designed to increase standardized test performance. In an education system where federal funding is the Holy Grail, and test scores seem to be the best way to get to it, it’s refreshing to see a program that is truly innovative in its focus on something other than test preparation.