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Commonly Used Terms at Quincy Public Schools

There are many terms and acronyms used in communications from your students' school. We tried to define these terms to help families get acclimated to life at QPS. (If there's a term you would like to see added to this list, please send us an email

ACCESS for ELL (Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners): Federal and state laws require that English Learner (EL) students be assessed annually to measure their proficiency in reading, writing, listening, and speaking English, as well as the progress they are making in learning English. In fulfillment of these laws, EL students are required to participate in ACCESS for ELLs tests. Helpful summary handout (available in multiple languages).

After School Strings Program: Quincy Public Schools offers string instrument lessons to both beginning and continuing students. Parents/Guardians will receive information at the start of the school year about who is eligible and where the lessons will be held. The classes are for 40-minute group lessons (4-8 students per group) on the violin, viola, and cello. 

APC (Advanced Placement Center): The Advanced Placement Center is a citywide program for advanced learners in Grades 6-8 located at Central Middle School.  Selected Grade 5 students from all schools will be invited to screen for this program in the spring (March) with parent/guardian permission.  Screening result letters will be mailed out in May.  Please note, in addition to the Central APC program, all Quincy Public Schools middle schools offer Advanced coursework in English, Mathematics, and Science. For more information, go to the APC page on the QPS website.

Aspen: Aspen is the Quincy Public Schools Student Information System. The Aspen web portal allows guardians to see real time attendance information. Guardians can see current contact information, student assignments , due dates, and current grades. It's most useful for middle school and high school students/guardians. For elementary schools, Aspen is useful to see attendance and report cards. To login into ASPEN enter your student ID number, which you can get from the school. Enter the default password: Quincy123. This student ID will remain through your life in the QPS system. QPS put together this ASPEN How-to Presentation to help you navigate using Aspen. If you are not comfortable with Aspen, please contact your student’s principal and ask for assistance. 

BOKS (Build Our Kids' Success): BOKS is a free fitness program run by the physical education teachers and is offered before the start of the school day. The program is designed to get kids active and establish a lifelong commitment to health and fitness. If your student's school offers BOKS, you will receive sign up information at the start of the school year. 

Calm Classroom: Calm Classroom is used across the district at multiple grade levels including Kindergarten. This is an opportunity for students to pause and refocus prior to starting a new activity. In addition, the nurse and guidance counselor or both will do classroom lessons throughout the year with the Kindergarten students on these topics.

Citywide PTO: The Citywide Parent Teacher Organization is made up of parent representatives from all Quincy schools. It's open to all parents and interested community members. It has a meeting once a month from September to June on Zoom. It has round table discussions and updates from all schools. The Citywide PTO is a place where parents from across Quincy can ask questions, express frustrations, and meet other parents. They also created this website to help families navigate QPS! 

CVTE: Career Vocational & Technical Education Program provides practical instruction and valuable intellectual content alongside academics. North Quincy High School and Quincy High School foster a stimulating environment where traditional programs exist side-by-side with cutting-edge 21st Century competency-based career pathways, including: Automotive Technology, Business Technology, Carpentry Technology, Culinary Arts, Design and Visual Communications, Early Education and Care, Electrical Technology, Engineering Technology, Fashion Technology, Film and Television Production, HealthCare Technology, Information Support and Networking Services, Legal and Protective Services, Metal Fabrication and Joining Technologies, and Plumbing Technology.

D.A.R.E: ​Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) is a program consisting of a series of classroom lessons that include the most up-to-date evidence and research-based strategies for drug abuse prevention. The program addresses common drug-related beliefs among adolescents; increases risk-awareness of substance abuse; and focuses on improving social skills like problem-solving, communication, decision making, and resistance/assertiveness training. The DARE program is taught by Quincy DARE officers to all 5th graders in Quincy Public Schools.

DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education): DESE is responsible for overseeing the education of children in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 in Massachusetts.

EDI/DEI (Equity Diversity Inclusion/Diversity, Equity and Inclusion): is a term used to describe policies and programs that promote the representation and participation of different groups of individuals, including people of different ages, races and ethnicities, abilities and disabilities, genders, religions, cultures, and sexual orientations.

ELPAC (English Learner Parent Advisory Council): ELPAC is a group of parents/guardians of English Learners in the Quincy Public Schools who want to work with school and district leaders to improve the English Learner Education Program. Parents/guardians of English Learners, grandparents of English Learners, and parents/grandparents/legal guardians of former English Learners (students who were in the program but are now in regular mainstream classes) are eligible to be members of the ELPAC. You can contact for more details and meeting schedule. You may also contact Heather Wojcik, coordinator of English language education, at for more details.

IEP (Individualized Education Program): An IEP is a legal document under US law that is developed for each public-school child in the US who needs special education. It is created through a team of the child’s parents/guardian and district personnel who are knowledgeable about the child’s needs. Please contact the Director of Special Education at 617.984.8743 if you have any questions and concerns about your child or any of the programs.

MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System): These are statewide exams administered to Massachusetts students studying in public schools across the state. MCAS is an annual exam that is administered to all students in grade 3-8 and grade 10. Test results help identify areas where students have mastered the subject and where students need more help. The exams are held in spring every year and you can get the schedule on Grade 3 and Grade 4 are tested on English and Math. Grade 5 has science as an additional subject. It's a computer-based exam. The results are typically mailed to parents in October. MCAS Parent Resources

MAP (Measure of Academic Performance): A computerized adaptive test which helps teachers, parents and administrators improve learning for all students and make informed decisions to promote a child’s academic growth. MAP is administered 3 times a year–fall, winter, and spring–across grade 2-5. The measurement system in MAP is called the RIT scale (Rasch unit) and is an equal-interval scale much like feet/inches on a yardstick. The scale is used to chart the child’s academic growth from year to year. 

PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports): PBIS is a set of ideas and tools that schools use to improve the behavior of students. Tickets are given to students for following school rules, helping their peers or younger students, being kind and any positive behavior. The tickets are then collected, and children’s names are drawn for prizes. Every month students from each classroom are selected by the teachers as role models of the month for following that month’s expectation, such as respect for others. These students are then celebrated in the school in different ways depending on the school. 

PTO (Parent Teacher Organization): A collaboration of parents/guardians and teachers that work towards organizing school events and help schools to fund raise. PTOs typically hold monthly meetings from September to June, and parents/guardians can use this forum to raise any concerns. There are two co-presidents and two treasurers who are typically elected by parent/guardian vote in May.​

QBB (Quincy Band Boosters): QBB is a parents group formed in 2013 with wonderful and exciting plans to support the Quincy Public Schools' instrumental music program and instructors through fundraising and advocacy. Parents with children in the Quincy Public Schools band program are automatically members of the Quincy Band Boosters, or QBB. Website: Quincy Band Boosters

SEPAC (Quincy Special Education Parents Advisory Council): A formally organized group of parents/guardians and other interested persons committed to the best possible services for children with special needs. The council, established in 1977, functions under the state mandate for MA regulations. SEPAC meets four times per year following the Special Education Subcommittee meetings. It's active on Facebook as Quincy Parent Advisory Council and is very efficient in responding to queries. Email:

QCARE (Quincy After School Childcare): QCARE is a non-profit organization providing the licensed care for school-aged children. The program is run at nine elementary schools, Monday to Friday. For more details, please go on their website

REACH: REACH is an educational program for elementary school students who demonstrate advanced learning potential. Currently, students in grades 4 and 5 who are in the top 20% of their school are invited to participate in this program. Once per month, a teacher visits each school and meets with the selected students, offering academically challenging coursework. The program is tentatively slated to extend to grade 3 in 2023. Click here to review the REACH parent information presentation. Click here to watch the video of the REACH parent information event. If you have questions regarding the REACH program, please contact Bridget Vaughan at

Scholastic Fair: Twice year students are able to buy books at the Scholastic Book Fair that is held at school. Volunteers, usually through the PTO, work at the fair to helps students pick out books.

School Council: The school council is a collective of parents/guardians, teachers, principals, staff, and community representatives that support and enhance student learning. School council provides a way for the members of the school community to give advice to and consult with the principal and teachers.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics): STEM curriculum emphasizes connections within and between the fields of mathematics and science; integrates technology; introduces and engages students in the engineering design process; cultivates creativity and develops skills that drive innovation.

Title 1: Title 1 is a federal aid program in schools and has been funded by the government since 1965 to provide supplemental remedial services to students living in target areas and needing assistance in reading and/or mathematics. In Quincy, services are currently provided at Amelio Della Chiesa Early Childhood Center, Clifford Marshall, Lincoln-Hancock, Parker, and Snug Harbor Elementary Schools, as well as Point Webster and Southwest Middle Schools.

504 Plan: A 504 Plan is a plan developed to ensure that a child with a disability, identified under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives accommodations that will provide access to the learning environment. The document assures compliance of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and is developed by a team of individuals that may consist of the student with a disability (if appropriate), the student's parent(s)/guardian(s), the student's teacher(s), the student's counselor, and the 504 coordinators.

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