Board Buzzwords M-R

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is inclusive education for students with disabilities, as a component of school reform, such as efforts to integrate diverse students in general education classes. These include students who are gifted and talented, who have limited English speaking abilities, and who are from various racial and ethnic groups.

mental health

Mental illness is on the rise in schools. More and more colleges are reporting mental health as a major issue on college campuses, and many community colleges are underfunded and unprepared. Issue #11 of ACCT’s Trustee Talk discusses the Board’s role on this topic. Mental health guides for college students are available online.


refers to a professional relationship of advising or training someone, often a younger person. Mentoring is proven to have a positive impact on students’ career readiness and general student progress and success. Companies like AT&T have set up programs to keep students engaged in education. Some colleges set up mentors with students to provide career guidance. There are different types of mentoring, traditional one-on-one with a mentor and mentee, distance mentoring, or group mentoring.

merit-based college admissions

is college acceptance based off of your talents and interests: academic, artistic, athletic, and the list goes on; wherein hard-working students and eager employees are considered based on the objective standard of their past performance, not on the subjective feelings of admission officers and government bureaucrats.


a credential less than a degree and not a formal license, sometimes called badges, which are offered by a variety of organizations and delivered through a wide range of postsecondary institutions. 

middle college

Dual enrollment programs which allow qualified high school students to work toward a diploma and a certificate or associate degree, usually with a corporate sponsor.

middle-skills workforce; middle skills gap

the National Skills Coalition calls the middle-skills workforce, people holding well-paying and high-demand jobs that require more than a high school diploma and less than a four-year degree. These comprise more than half of America’s jobs, yet only about 40 percent of the country’s workers are trained up to the middle-skill level. Employers are struggling to find qualified machinists, laboratory technicians, computer network architects and other middle-skills workers.

mission statement

a statement of core values of a college or institution. The mission guides the purposes of the institution. Incorporating a commitment to access and success within an institution's mission statement is a deliberative process involving campus stakeholders, governing boards, communities, businesses, and the public.  Accreditors typically ask: Is the college fulfilling its mission? 


mobile learning; even though the learner may be static, in one place, the term refers to learning on mobile devices and is considered by many to be a form of eLearning. mLearning opportunities can be small components, activities or events within any mode of delivery.


Massively open online courses (MOOCs) are a relatively new form of offering low cost or no cost instruction to many students. Originally touted as a way to open access to excellence in teaching, MOOCs have been known to have low completion rates. More research is being done on the many colleges offering MOOCs as a means to open access and increase enrollment in other courses at an institution. 


Minority Serving Institutions are institutions of higher education that serve and address the needs of minority populations, examples given, Historically Black Colleges and Universities(HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HIS), and consider the financial sustainability of these vital institutions. 

multiple measures

Use of multiple indicators and sources of evidence of student learning. Many colleges ae using various indicators of learning and achievement such as student interviews, standardized tests, field work, projects, teacher recommendations, etc. rather than simply standardized tests alone as indicators of student progress or ability to take college-level coursework.  

multiple intelligences

was developed by Howard Gardner of Harvard whose theories in cognitive research supports that students learn, process, and interpret information differently and it argues that one’s capacity to learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways. Currently, there are seven learning styles. 


National Center for Education Statistics is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations. NCES is located within the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences. NCES fulfills a Congressional mandate to collect, collate, analyze, and report complete statistics on the condition of American education; conduct and publish reports; and review and report on education activities internationally.

nudging, nudge

strategy used to text personal supports and reminders to low-income, at-risk students. Recently a nudging campaign at four community colleges improved student persistence rates in STEM programs. Text messages were encouraging and asked what the students needed and addressed where students could get what information they needed.


Open Educational Resources or open source. Usually refers to textbooks and learning resources produced with publicly available material that is free or at low cost to make college more affordable. Some even predict that colleges will eliminate traditional textbooks in the next decade.

on-demand learning

is a training strategy for how a learner gains access to knowledge-based content in real time, anywhere and at any time.

opportunity zones

a national community investment tool that connects private capital with low-income communities across the country. The  Opportunity Zones incentive was established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to promote investments in low-income communities nationwide and offers federal tax benefits for investors in low-income communities.  The opportunities zone map designates which communities are official opportunity zones.


Refer to “guided pathways” above or to the guided pathways approach that promotes access to completion.

PLUS loan

an unsubsidized federal education loan for graduate students and for parents of dependent undergraduate students. The Federal PLUS Loan, also known as a Federal Direct PLUS Loan, is available after the student exhausts eligibility for Federal Stafford Loans. Interest begins accruing immediately after disbursement. PLUS loans can help pay for education expenses not covered by other financial aid. See “Stafford Loans.”

Pell grant

Usually awarded to undergraduate students, Pell Grants are a form of federal financial aid. Amounts are determined based on need. ACCT’s two publications, Financial Aid 102 (2017)  and Financial Aid 101 (2013) provide comprehensive information about the Pell program. 

Performance funding

Sometimes referred to as performance-based funding or outcomes-based funding, performance funding is a policy which uses a formula to allocate state funding to public colleges and universities based on student outcomes. Performance funding shifts a portion of these dollars from an enrollment-based model to an outcomes-based model. Commonly used outcomes include student retention rates, transfer rates from two- to four-year institutions, credit hours earned, graduation rates, degrees conferred, and job placement rates. Institutions earn funds by graduating, not simply enrolling, students. A primary goal of performance funding is to better align states’ goals with institutions to increase postsecondary educational attainment. In some states, performance funding mandates include equity provisions for colleges that successfully serve low-income students or those from underrepresented student groups. 


Physical plus digital, phigital is a marketing term blending digital experiences with physical ones. Generation Z is considered the first generation to be fully phigital or unable to distinguish between the physical world and a digital one. 

policy governance

Created by Dr. John Carver, policy governance is a model of governance designed to empower boards of directors to fulfill their obligation of accountability for the organizations they govern. Rather than “getting into the weeds” of institutional or administrative details, boards of trustees focus on the “ends” or major goals of an organization.

prior learning assessment (PLA)

is a practice designed to help students complete their degree and/or portfolio via formal and informal experiences for college equivalency. Examples would be applying experiential learning such as workplace learning, military, internships, or study abroad language credits directly as an elective requirement.

program accreditation

accreditation is of individual programs within a school (like Nursing, rather than the whole institution. There are specific evaluating groups for this type of accreditation. Program appraisers will look at faculty, curriculum, students, resources and administrative structure. Accreditation groups want to make sure that all students are offered the same standard of supervision, advisement, support and access to relevant program resources. See “regional accreditation.”

Project–based learning (PBL)

is a dynamic classroom approach in which students actively explore real-world problems and challenges and acquire a deeper knowledge.

Real-time collaboration

is a term used for software or technologies that allow multiple users to work together on a project in real time, or simultaneously.

regional accreditation

institutional accreditation which means an entire school is accredited. That bestows a high level of credibility on a university as a whole. Institutional accreditation can be provided by a regional or national accreditation group. The United States is divided into six geographic regions, and each has its own regional accrediting organization. Only those accrediting groups that are acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Education are considered legitimate: Northwest Commission on Colleges & Universities (NWCCU),  Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC),  Higher Learning Commission (HLC); New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE);  Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and Southern Association of Colleges and School Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).  A map of the scope of each regional accreditor is online. See also “program accreditation” and “CHEA.”

remedial education

also known as developmental education. See developmental education. New research questions if new remedial strategies are getting students to complete. 

remedial math

developmental math to prepare students for college-level math. Many states are developing new ways to teach remedial math. 


student retention is significant for measuring institutional effectiveness in the prevailing environment of accountability and budgetary constraints. An example of a retention strategy might be  offering telecommute program or distance learning options for busy students and employees.

reverse transfer

Awarding or earning an associate’s degree from the college to which a student transferred after completion or awarding of a baccalaureate degree.  The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center has produced a comprehensive study entitled Reverse Transfer: A National View of Student Mobility from Four-year to Two-Year Institutions July 2012. The 13 state colleges in Wisconsin are implementing an automated system (Reverse Transfer automated data exchange platform through the National Student Clearinghouse) through partnership with the state university.  Colleges’ completion rates get a boost when students do reverse transfer.

Robert’s Rules of Order

is the standard set of rules for parliamentary procedure first published in 1876 to run orderly meetings with maximum fairness to all members. There is an official Robert’s Rules of Order website that provides up-to-date current versions. There is also a Roberts Rules Cheat Sheet available online.