What’s the most overused edu-speak? Informal (and punchy) research

“We will engineer authentic action-items in data-driven schools.”

“We will streamline revolutionary decision-making within the core curriculum.”

“We will strategize innovative functionalities through cognitive disequilibrium.”

No, those aren’t statements created by a team of “eduformers” after pouring over data, research, and discussing solutions to fix the latest reform disaster. And no, those statements aren’t easy to understand. And don’t worry if those statements seem nonsensical…they are!

Here’s why. Those are statements created by an education jargon generator, found here. (Caveat: It’s a time-suck, but great for a chuckle)

In article several weeks ago, Alia Wong of the Atlantic wrote that there is so much education jargon in our conversations, that the message gets buried (and many times waylayed). And sometimes it makes education reporting so, well, boring.

This got me thinking about edu-speak, teacher voice and the media, and we teased the subject out a little bit more in #edugeekchat at the beginning of the month. But I wanted more. I was intrigued. I now had the thought on permanent simmer in my brain.

What is the most over-used edu-speak? What are we hearing too much of, but everyone seems to have a different definition?

So I did a little informal research through social media.

Ladies and gentlemen, here the top 17 pieces education jargon you may never want to hear again (countdown style), from the informal and punchy research lab at Mount Holyoke Programs in Teacher Leadership.

17. Rubric

16. Choice

15. Problems of practice

14. Solutions-based

13. Text dependent

12. Low performing

11. Assessment

10. Reform

9. Common Core

8. Evaluation

7. Value-added

6. Best practices

5. College and career ready

4. Accountability

3. Rigor (my personal least-favorite)

2. Achievement gap

And the winner, thanks to the response of 40 teacher leaders across the United States (drumroll, please)…

1. Data driven.

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  • katrinakayvelasco

    Thank you.  This was

    Thank you.  This was hilarious + so true.

  • CarlDraeger


    We used to print up Bingo cards and have people write buzzwords on it. When the superintendent’s beginning of the year speech video was shown, we would check off the box when he used the word. Please note that we would not shout out ‘Bingo’ (except for Meaghan).

    Here are some words you may have missed: leverage, capacity, and with fidelity.

    • Karen


      Carl, we played the same game at PD, and we called it B.S.Bingo!

  • BillIvey

    I’ve got to stick up for one of them…

    … “choice.” Of course, maybe that’s just because my school highlights “student voice” as part of its mission, and I love our particular definition of choice. I’ve certainly seen the word used in ways that make me want to make a bad choice regarding my laptop and my throwing arm.

    That said, of course I totally get what you mean, and I loved the randomly generated phrases. I tried the awesome time sucker, and got, “We will iterate developmentally appropriate risk-takers through the Big Ideas.” and “We will discern top-down strategies with synergistic effects.” As John Steinbeck once wrote about a famous gravestone quote in New Orleans, “I almost know what it means.”

  • Sandy Merz

    Missed mine

    Aw, bad news, "journey" didn't make it. I'm so bummed out. 

    • Dglvrk2

      lets not forget…

      COLLBORATION and its cousins collaborative effort and collaborate



    • Susie

      What about the…


      I've been in education for almost 40 years, it's always interesting to see what each new decade will bring.

  • kathy purdy

    ed jargon

    Collaboration, "team" teaching, STEM, differentiation, receivership.  Ugh… I could go on forever

  • Krista Fielder

    Rigor not rigor mortis

    At the Teach & Learn conference this year one of the presenters said rigor not rigor mortis and it is now my all time favorite!

  • Chris M.

    How about…


  • Marge Ballard

    Here’s another one or two

    Sorry but I've heard 'tease it out' so any times it makes me cringe. Also, 'let's look thru the lens of ….'   

  • Rick

    here’s another…

    I wish I had a toy bat to whack our legal counsel in the head everytime he uses the phrase 'open the kimono' (hand movements included), especially with several asian women in our employ.