What Words Would You Love to Ditch?



  1. Rigor: I know that it often means hard work or deeper thinking. However, in many cases, rigor has become a word associated with absurd standards or higher scores. If I'm referring to critical thinking, I'd rather use the term "deep" or "critical thinking." 
  2. Data-Driven: I'm not opposed to the use of data. However, I'd rather use the term "data informed" or better yet, "information." Often data is viewed as culturally and socially neutral. It's viewed as something measurable; a series of facts that can't be disproved. Information is more flexible. 
  3. Achievement: I'm tired of calling test scores "achievement." Just call them test scores. I'd rather save the term "achievement" for something like a thoughtful blog post or a cool Socratic Seminar or a project. 
  4. Common Assessment: It's not a common assessment unless it's truly common and democratic. If the timing, the standards, the curriculum map and the format are chosen top-down, there's nothing democratic about it. 
  5. SPED Students: I know that I sound picky here, but there's a cost to using a label to define a kid. It's the difference between saying, "a diabetic" or "a woman with diabetes" (something Michael Doyle once brought up). And although SPED isn't necessarily pejorative, I remember kids in the playground using it that way when I was a younger. 
  6. Intervention: Can we find a better word for offering kids help? This word conjures up images of a family sitting together with someone to talk about an addiction. 
What are some other education phrases / words that grate on your nerves?



John Spencer is a teacher, author, speaker, and incessant doodler.
He is the co-author of Wendell the World's Worst Wizard
and the co-founder of Write About .

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