This glossary is a collection of terms and their operational definitions as they were used in a variety of Agency projects. You can use the filter to search and select the terms you want to see based on their place in the alphabet or the projects that they are related to.



Able / gifted / talented

Giftedness or high ability is currently defined in terms of the following traits:

  • above-average intellectual ability, with regard to both general and specific skills. Although the traditional yardstick has been the presence of an intelligence quotient of over 130 (100 being the average), in recent years this criterion has been extended and loosened to include the assessment of other equally important indicators:
  • high dedication and commitment to tasks: perseverance, interest, resilience, self-confidence, etc.
  • high levels of creativity, flexibility and originality in asking questions, responding to and solving problems and difficulties that arise (European Economic and Social Committee, 2013).


‘The right or opportunity to use or benefit from something’ (Oxford Dictionaries, no date).

Within an educational context, physical access to educational settings (schools and classes) is important, as well as access to a range of financial, human and technical resources.


Article 9 the UN Convention defines accessibility as:

To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas (UN, 2006, p. 9).

Accessibility is a right to be ensured in all areas. These include education and the right to appropriate education and active citizenship through access to a flexible curriculum through personalised learning approaches.


Able to be reached, entered or understood.

Accessible information

Within the i-access project accessible information is understood as information provided in formats which allow every learner to access its content ‘on an equal basis with others’ (UN, 2006, p. 9). 


‘The fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility’ (Oxford Dictionaries, no date).

In the field of education there are three main types of accountability system: (a) compliance with regulations, (b) adherence to professional norms, and (c) results driven. School accountability systems operate according to a set of principles and use a variety of implementation strategies (UNESCO Institute for Educational Planning, 2005, p. 1).

Accountability can be defined as a process by which actors provide reasons for their actions against the backdrop of possible negative (or positive) consequences (Hooge, Burns and Wilkoszewski, 2012). The concept of accountability is particularly important in the context of decentralised education systems that encourage school autonomy, including decisions concerning the curriculum.

Action / practitioner research

Kemmis and McTaggart (1988, p. 5) provide the following definition of ‘action research’, which emphasises its participatory, collaborative and self-reflective nature and firmly locates it as a form of social action orientated towards improvement:

Action research is a form of collective self-reflective enquiry undertaken by participants in social situations in order to improve the rationality and justice of their own social or educational practices, as well as their understanding of these practices and the situations in which these practices are carried out.

The ‘action research’ model has been used for school improvement purposes. It is a form of professional self-study, where teachers intentionally consider their work to collect data, which they then use to make informed decisions about their practice and their learners’ learning (Campbell, 2013). 

One of the principal intentions of action/practitioner research is that teachers raise the quality of their practice by engaging in basic classroom or school-set research, addressing curriculum or other broadly pedagogical issues (Institute of Public Administration (IPA)/EU Commission Structural Reform Support Service (EC), 2017).

Additional / second language learners

Learners, often from an immigrant background, who do not speak the national language and who need additional support to access the curriculum in school and develop resources to fully participate in the life of the local and wider community.

Alternative / augmentative communication (ACC)

Alternative / augmentative communication (ACC) refers to extra ways of helping people who find it hard to communicate by speech or writing to communicate more easily. This can include signing and gesture (unaided systems) or books and special computers (aided systems) (International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, cited by UNESCO IITE/European Agency, 2011, p. 101).


Assessment refers to the ways teachers or other professionals systematically collect and use information about a learner’s level of achievement and/or development in different areas of their educational experience (academic, behaviour or social).

Assessment adaptation / modification / accommodation

Assessment adaptation / modification / accommodation refers to an alteration in the way a general assessment is done or test is applied. Assessment accommodation allows learners with special educational needs to show what they know or what they can do by removing the barriers that may be intrinsic in the assessment itself (for example, providing written test questions orally to learners with visual impairments).

Assessment for learning

This term is used in a general way in many countries to refer to assessment procedures that inform decision-making about teaching methods and next steps in a pupil’s learning. Assessment for learning is a process usually carried out in classrooms by teachers/other professionals. It involves finding and interpreting evidence and working with learners to establish where they are in their learning, the next steps to be taken and the best ways of moving forward.

Assistive technologies (ATs)

Assistive technologies (ATs) are:

adaptive devices that enable people with special needs to access all manner of technical products and services. ATs cover a whole range of ICTs, from customised keyboards and speech recognition software to Braille computer displays and closed captioning systems for TV (European Commission, cited by UNESCO IITE/European Agency, 2011, p. 101).

The British Assistive Technology Association states that:

AT is any item, equipment, hardware, software, product or service which maintains, increases or improves the functional capabilities of individuals of any age, especially those with disabilities, and enables them more easily to communicate, learn, enjoy and live better, more independent lives (Chambers et al., 2016, p. 33).

At-risk children

Children can be at risk of disadvantage because of their individual circumstances or because they, or their families belong to a group which is disadvantaged in society. These children may include those with disabilities, with mental health problems, in alternative care, at risk of neglect/abuse, undocumented child migrants/asylum seekers, those whose families live in poverty or are socially disadvantaged, those whose families have a migrant and/or second language background, those whose families have limited access to services, Roma and traveller children (European Commission, 2014, p. 68).


Reliable/real or trustworthy, genuine.

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