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Hope Starts Here

What education terminology would be helpful to know?

Here are a few definitions that will be helpful in your search to find a school.
By: Hope Starts Here
Lasted Updated July 23, 2022


The governing board of a public body that is legally allowed to issue the “charter” for a charter school. By law, in Michigan, these agents can include public universities, community colleges and K-12 traditional school districts.

Bilingual Education

The teaching of non-English-speaking children in their native language – while they’re also learning English. DPSCD provides this to 6,000 students who speak 30 languages. Check with the district or specific charter schools to discover offerings.

Charter Schools

These tuition-free “public school academies” are created by a charter between an “authorizer” and an outside group (such as teachers and parents). They can include grades K-12 or any combination. Each is considered its own district. They’re open to all Detroit students, regardless of neighborhood, and must follow the same federal and state laws that govern traditional public schools.


This refers to a traditional, free-of-charge, tax-funded public school system.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District, or DPSCD, includes 109 schools. It replaced Detroit Public Schools in 2016. DPSCD is open to all kids who reside in the city, and each child is guaranteed a spot starting in kindergarten. Intermediate School District: A regional education agency. Michigan has 57 ISDs. Each has a board and a superintendent, just like a local district. Wayne RESA serves students, families and 33 school districts in Wayne County.


An instructional or teacher’s aide. A “parapro” assists the teacher in the classroom and helps a student understand what is being taught by speaking in the child’s home language or providing special education support.

Private Schools

These independent schools aren’t administered by the local, state or national government. They retain the right to select their student body and are funded in whole or in part by charging tuition, since they don’t receive public dollars. They are NOT included in this guide, which features Detroit public schools only.

Schools of Choice

A school district that opts to accept students beyond typical boundaries – in the case of Detroit, outside city limits. For DPSCD, students elsewhere in the Wayne County intermediate school district (ISD) may enroll, as well as students who live in ISDs whose borders abut the Wayne RESA service area.

Select Admission

Some schools have special admittance rules. DPSCD has 18 “application schools,” which include elementary/ middle and high schools, that require an application to enroll. Also, four high schools are “exam schools,” which require special testing. For current deadlines, visit detroitk12.org/enroll.

Special Education

By law, students with disabilities and special needs receive specific programs and services, which are outlined in an individualized education program (IEP) plan tailored for each student. Also, 504 plans list accommodations schools provide for students (audiobooks, note-taking aids, extra time to complete tests, etc.). Detroit schools work with families to ensure these needs are met. The district central office or charter school authorizer also can provide help if needed.

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