Alamo Colleges District

Glossary Terms

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Academic Calendar

An academic calendar is a schedule or timeline that outlines important dates, events, and activities within an academic institution, such as a school, college, or university. It serves as a roadmap for the academic year.

2023-2024 Academic Calendar

Academic Course Guide Manual (ACGM)

The official list of approval numbers for general academic transfer courses that may be offered for state funding by public community and technical colleges in Texas. It lists a basic core of general academic courses which are freely transferable among all public institutions of higher education in Texas in accordance with the Texas Education Code, 61.051(g). To search transfer courses, or view a complete list of transferable credit, or compare two schools, visit The Texas General Education Core Web Center.

Academic Year

A complete school year consisting of the fall, spring, and optional summer terms.


Accreditation is a formal process in which educational institutions undergo a comprehensive evaluation to ensure that they meet specific standards of quality and educational excellence. Accreditation is typically carried out by accrediting agencies or organizations that have been recognized by relevant authorities.

The Alamo Colleges District including all five colleges are each individually accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Achieving the Dream

A national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Learn more about ATD.


ACES is a secure portal that provides students, staff, and faculty in the Alamo Colleges District with access to several useful tools and applications. As an ACES user, you will be able to register for classes, and have access to important financial aid information, email, library resources, and online courses.

Adjunct Faculty

An adjunct professor, also known as adjunct faculty or instructor, is a person who teaches for a limited term or contract typically for one semester at a time. Adjunct faculty are ineligible for tenure.

Adjunct Faculty Certification Program (AFCP)

There are a number of certification programs for Alamo Colleges faculty development.

Alamo Colleges District

The Alamo colleges district serves the Bexar County community through its five community colleges: San Antonio (est. 1925), St. Philip's (est. 1898), Palo Alto (est. 1985), Northeast Lakeview (est. 2007), and Northwest Vista (est. 1995). Alamo Colleges district offers a wide variety of programs that are fully transferable to four-year universities. Learn more at the Alamo Colleges website.

Alamo GPS

A web based degree audit and academic advisement tool to enhance the advisement process for students and advisors; also known as Degree Works. Learn more about Alamo GPS.

Association of College and University Educators (ACUE)

The Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) is an organization that focuses on improving higher education by providing professional development and support to college and university instructors. ACUE offers programs and resources designed to enhance teaching practices, promote student engagement, and ultimately improve student learning outcomes.


Banner is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software product that assists the five Alamo Colleges and District Support Offices in recording and maintaining information for their students and employees. Students will access Banner Self-Services to review college admission and financial aid information, register and pay for classes, and obtain academic records. Faculty, staff, and student employees will use Banner to access important tools such as payroll, benefits, class rosters, grade reporting, and census. Go to ACES to login to Banner self-service.

The name of the Student ID number for Alamo Colleges students. For security, Alamo Colleges no longer use students social security numbers as student IDs.


BioSig-ID is an authentication tool that uses biometrics to make it more difficult for unauthorized users to access secure data or commit fraud by posing as another individual. It is also used to minimize academic dishonesty in online courses. It is a requirement of SACSCOC that member institutions verify the identity of distance education students, and BioSig-ID helps us to fulfill that requirement. BioSig-ID is fully integrated with the Canvas learning management system. The tool is intended for use only with fully online and hybrid course offerings.




Canvas is an online learning management system, (LMS). It is used by learning institutions, such as the Alamo Colleges, and educators and students to access and manage online learning materials. Canvas includes a variety of customizable course development and management tools, course and user analytics, statistics, and internal communication tools. 

Census Date

The official day of record that public higher education institutions must determine the enrollments that qualify to be reported to the Coordinating Board for state reimbursement. May also be referred to as the Official Reporting Date. For fall and spring semesters, it is the 12th class day. For summer semesters, it is the 4th class day. The count of class days begins on the first day that classes are held in the term and includes each calendar day on  which classes are normally held at the institution (e.g., Monday through Friday) until the official census date is reached. The official census day must be on a day that the Registrars office is scheduled to be open so that a student will be able to drop or withdraw from class.

Core Curriculum

In Texas the core curriculum usually consists of 42-48 semester credit hours of course work distributed among the disciplines of communication, mathematics, the natural sciences, the arts and humanities, and the social and behavioral sciences. State law mandates the transfer of core curriculum courses between all public institutions of higher education.


The unit of measurement some institutions give for fulfilling course requirements. A credit typically represents one hour of class per week for one semester

Credit Hour

A unit counted toward completion of an academic program. Each course is worth a number of credit hours (also known as credits). The number of credit hours reflects the number of hours a student spends in class for that course per week.

Cross Listed Course

The IRES methodology that combines two or more courses into one course for the purpose of calculating average class size. When cross-listed courses include the same rubric, the combined rubric remains the same and enrollment is the sum of the combined courses. When the cross-listed courses include different rubrics, a new combination rubric is created and enrollment is the sum of the combined courses.

For example, the average class size for cross-listed courses spanning DANCE and DANCE will be assigned the DANCE rubric. The average class size for cross-listed courses spanning DANCE and KINE rubrics, will be assigned the combination rubric DANCE-KINE.


A .csv file is a plain text file that holds data in a simple format. It uses commas (or other symbols) to separate different pieces of information. Think of it like a table with rows and columns, where each line represents a row and the values are separated by commas. You can open and work with .csv files using spreadsheet programs like Microsoft Excel or even with a regular text editor.


Degree Seeking Student

A student enrolled in courses for credit and has not indicated on Apply Texas that their intent in attending college is to excel their skills in a specific discipline or for personal enrichment.

Distance Education

The formal educational process that occurs when students and instructors are not in the same physical setting for the majority (more than 50 percent) of instruction.

Dual Enrollment or Dual Credit

The simultaneous enrollment of a student at a high school and in a college course which is offered through regular campus schedule or at the high school. Dual Credit programs allow students to earn college credit for selected courses at an elegible high school.


Early College High School

An educational partnership between the Alamo College system and Comal ISD, Seguin ISD and San Antonio ISD in which high school students participate in college level curriculums with the goal of improving college success and degree completion.

Enhanced Skill Certificate

A certificate associated with an AAS or AAA degree program. Such a certificate program is comprised of at least 6 and no more than 15 semester credit hours (9-23 quarter hours), and may extend an AAS or AAA award to an overall total of no more than 87 semester credit hours (126 quarter hours). Also referred to as a CERT3, or Certificate Level Three.


The process by which students officially register for and participate in academic courses and programs offered by the institution. It involves completing necessary paperwork, paying tuition and fees, and securing a spot in specific classes or academic programs. Enrollment is a fundamental step that allows students to access educational resources, receive instruction, and progress towards their academic goals.

Enrollment Status Report

An IRES report that provides same day, year-to-year enrollment comparisons by college and term.


Microsoft Excel is a computer program that helps users work with numbers and organize information. You can create tables, perform calculations, keep track of expenses, make budgets, and create charts and graphs. Excel makes it easier to manage and analyze data, whether for personal or professional use. It has a grid-like layout where you can enter and manipulate data, perform calculations, and create visual representations of your information.


.xls: A .xls file is a type of file used by older versions of Microsoft Excel to save information. It's like a digital spreadsheet that stores data in a grid format. You can use Microsoft Excel or similar software to create, edit, and view .xls files.


Faculty Ratio

The portion of full-time or part-time faculty in relation to the whole; also known as Full-Time/PartTime Faculty Ratio.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

FERPA stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. It is a federal law in the United States that governs the privacy and access rights of students' educational records. Enacted in 1974, FERPA applies to all educational institutions that receive federal funding, including schools and universities. The main purpose of FERPA is to protect the confidentiality of student records and ensure that students' personal information remains private.

Additional information about Alamo Colleges FERPA compliance.

Field of Study

A student who has satisfactorily completed all required courses in the field of study curriculum, regardless of whether or not the student has completed any optional courses that may be offered. No student may be reported as a field of study completer more than once for a particular field of study; the institution that first reports a student as a FOS completer will be recognized as the institution where the student completed that particular FOS. A student must have completed at least one course in a FOS at an institution for that institution to identify the student as a FOS completer. Students may be identified as FOS completers only in fields of study that have been approved by the Coordinating Board.

Financial Aid

A comprehensive term used to describe monetary assistance for students in the form of grants, scholarships, work-study, or loans from sources including the institution, private donors, and/or the state or federal government. Learn more about Financial Aid, or visit your specific college's financial aid office.

First Generation College Student

A first-generation college student is an individual who is the first in their immediate family to attend a college or university and pursue a higher education degree. In other words, neither of the student's parents or guardians has completed a bachelor's degree or equivalent higher education credential. Being a first-generation college student is often seen as a significant milestone, as it represents a break from the family's educational background and a step toward accessing higher education opportunities.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form that students in the United States fill out to apply for financial aid for higher education. The financial aid provided through FAFSA includes grants, scholarships, work-study opportunities, and federal student loans. This application is crucial for students seeking financial assistance to pay for college or other post-secondary education.

Full-time Faculty

Employees who are employed on a full-time (100% effort) basis for instruction.

Full-time Staff

Employees who are employed on a full-time (100% effort) basis and do not meet the definition of faculty.

Full-Time Student

An undergraduate student enrolled in 12 or more semester credit hours in a long semester. A two- year college continuing education student enrolled for 24 or more contact hours a week during a quarter. In IRES methodology, students who are part-time at multiple campuses and whose total credit hours equal 12 or more are considered full-time at district.


Gatekeeper Course

A college-level course used to measure student progression. Alamo College gatekeeper courses are as follows: English-ENGL 1301, Reading-BIOL1408 and HIST 1301, and MATH-MATH1314, 1332, 1333, 1414 and 1442.

Grade Distribution

In the IRES Grade Distribution report, the documentation of letter grades that results in the ability to calculate completion and success rates by rubric, course number and CRN. The report is available for All Students or FTIC students.

Grade Point Average

The calculated value of each grade. The GPA is derived by dividing the total number of quality points by the total number of semester hours attempted for which grades have been received. For additional information please see Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy.

Grading System

A - 4 quality points per semester credit hour, excellent/exceptional

B - 3 quality points per semester credit hour, above average

C - 2 quality points per semester credit hour, average;

D - 1 quality point per semester credit hour, below average/pass

F - 0 quality points per semester credit hour, failing grade

I - 0 quality points per semester credit hour, incomplete (see Incomplete Grade).

IP - not computed in GPA, final grade for developmental courses, In Progress (see In Progress Grade).

NC - not computed in GPA, Non-Credit

W - Not computed in GPA; Withdrawal

WS - not computed in GPA; Withdrawal, SB 1231

WX - not computed in GPA; Withdrawal Exemption, SB 1231

WM - not computed in GPA; Withdrawal, Military

R - not computed in GPA; Non-Traditional Credit Only

AU - not computed in GPA; Audit;

P - Continuing Education Completer (program specific); Pass

NR - Not recorded

Graduation Rate: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

The percent of an entering cohort of first-time, full-time, credential seeking undergraduate students who graduate in a specific period of time. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) measures 3, 4, and 6-year graduation rates. Credential seeking students are those with a code of (1) earn an associate's degree, (2) earn a certificate, (3) earn credits for transfer, or (6) did not respond from the student intent field on the CBM001. Those coded as (4) job skills or (5) personal enrichment are not included.



An HBCU, or Historically Black Colleges and Universities, refers to institutions of higher education that were established with the primary mission of serving the African American community. These institutions were founded before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, during a time when racial segregation was prevalent in the United States. HBCUs played a significant role in providing educational opportunities for Black students when they were often excluded from mainstream colleges and universities due to racial discrimination.

St. Philips College, one of the oldest and most diverse community colleges in the nation, is the only college to be federally designated as both a historically black college and a Hispanic-serving institution.


An HSI, or Hispanic-Serving Institution, is a designation given to colleges and universities in the United States that have a significant enrollment of Hispanic or Latino students. To be recognized as an HSI, an institution must meet specific criteria set forth by the federal government. These criteria include having at least 25% Hispanic enrollment among full-time equivalent (FTE) undergraduate students.

St. Philips College, one of the oldest and most diverse community colleges in the nation, is the only college to be federally designated as both a historically black college and a Hispanic-serving institution.

Hybrid Course

A distance education course in which a majority (more than 50 percent but less than 85 percent) of the planned instruction occurs when the students and instructor(s) are not in the same place.


In Progress Grade

A final grade of "IP" may be assigned to students who have not adequately mastered developmental course content during a given semester or term yet who, in the instructor's judgment, have the potential to successfully complete the coursework. The only way to receive a passing grade in a course for which an "IP" grade has been recorded is to re-register for the course and earn a grade of "C" or better at the end of the semester or term in which the re-registration occurs.

Incomplete Grade

The conditional grade of "I" may be issued to a student having a passing average on all completed coursework but for a justified reason, such as illness or death in the family or by providential hindrance,  has been prevented from asking the final examination or completing other required coursework. The "I" becomes an "F" in one hundred twenty (120) calendar days from the end of the term unless the student completes the balance of the coursework with a performance grade of "D" or higher. Re-enrollment in the course will not resolve the "I".

In-District Student

A Texas resident who resides in Bexar County. Visit Alamo Colleges Cost of Attendance to learn more.

In-District Tuition

The tuition charged by a community college to those students residing in the college taxing district. Visit Alamo Colleges Cost of Attendance to learn more.


Key Performance Indicator

An evidence-based metric used to measure organizational performance. The metrics in the IRES Key Performance Indicator report include Recruitment, Retention, Completion, and Clusters. To gain a better understand of the Alamo Colleges KPI's visit Strategy & Data.


Legislative Budget Board

A Texas agency that consists of 10 members of the House and Senate. The Legislative Budget Board staff is responsible for a wide range of activities associated with the appropriations process.

Longitudinal Tracking

Tracking students as a group or cohort over a specific period of time.


Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) for ACES

Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) is a security protocol requiring additional authentication factors, and it ensures an added layer of security to your account. Once implemented, MFA will be required to access ACES each time you login.


Northeast Lakeview College

Established in 2007 and located at 1201 Kitty Hawk Road, Universal City, Texas, 78148, (210) 486-5000, NLC is one of five public community colleges within the system of Alamo Colleges. To learn more about the college visit the Northeast Lakeview College website.

Northwest Vista College

Established in 1995 and located at 3535 N. Ellison, San Antonio, Texas 78251, (210) 486-4000, NVC is one of five public community colleges within the system of Alamo Colleges. To learn more about the history, values, and offerings, visit the Northwest Vista College website.


Out-of-District Student

A community college student who is a legal resident of the state of Texas but who resides outside the taxing district in which the student attends college. Visit Alamo Colleges Cost of Attendance to learn more.

Out-of-District Tuition

The tuition charged by a community college to those students residing outside of the college taxing district. Visit Alamo Colleges Cost of Attendance to learn more.

Out-of-State Student

A student who is not a legal resident of the state in which he/she attends school. Visit Alamo Colleges Cost of Attendance to learn more.


Palo Alto College

Established in 1985 and located at 1400 W. Villaret Blvd, San Antonio, Texas, 78224, (210) 486- 3000, PAC is one of five public community colleges within the system of Alamo Colleges. Visit the Palo Alto College website to learn more.

Part-time Student

An undergraduate student enrolled for either 11 semester credits or less, or less than 24 contact hours per week each term.

Pell Grant Program

Provides grant assistance to eligible undergraduate postsecondary students with demonstrated financial need to help meet education expenses.

Productive Grade Rate (PGR)

In IRES Achieving the Dream reports, Cohort grades of C or higher based on all courses (cumulative) from the initial term of entry through the time of measurement by course section location.



The Quality Enhancement Plan or QEP is a multi-year project to improve an important aspect of student learning through broad-based involvement and is a requirement of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is an integral component of the reaffirmation of the accreditation process and is derived from an institutions ongoing comprehensive planning and evaluation processes. It reflects and affirms a commitment to enhancing overall institutional quality and effectiveness by focusing on an issue the institution considers important to improving student learning outcomes and/or student success.


Retention: Within Term Retention (Total Population)

In the IRES Key Performance Indicators report, the rate at which credit students persist within the same term (excludes fall late flex, includes dual credit). For example, if a student dropped all courses within a semester, then that student was not retained; if a student was still enrolled in at least one course by the end of the semester, then that student was retained.

Retention rate

The rate at which credit students persist within the same term. If a student drops all courses within a semester then that student was not retained. If a student was still enrolled in at least one course by the end of the semester then that student was retained.


The four-letter set of characters used to standardize the designation of like subjects; also used in Student Learning Objectives. Example: Accounting=ACCT.


San Antonio College

In September 1925, SAC was first established as University Junior College under the administration of the University of Texas. However, the attorney general for the State of Texas ruled that the University of Texas was in violation of the state's constitution by operating a junior college. Therefore the college was passed to the San Antonio board of education and renamed San Antonio Junior College. In August 1946, San Antonio Junior College was renamed again after control of the school passed from the board of trustees. San Antonio College was adopted as the official name in 1948, and in 1951, SAC was moved to its present location on San Pedro Avenue. Accreditation was granted to the college in 1955 from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.  

Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM)

A group of studies established to increase student success in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) measures annual awards in STEM fields.

Section Count

The sum of course sections.

Service Area

The geographical area, or target market, for educational delivery by community colleges as defined in the Texas Education Code. The Alamo Colleges Service Area includes Bexar, Bandera, Comal, Kendall, Kerr, Wilson, and portions of Atascosa and Guadalupe counties.

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is the regional body for the accreditation of degree granting higher education institutions in the Southern states, including Texas. For more information, visit SACSCOC.

St. Phillips College

Established in 1898 and located at 1801 M.L. King Drive, San Antonio, Texas, 78203, (210) 486-2000, and 800 Quintana Road, San Antonio, Texas, 78211 (210) 486-7000, SPC is one of five public community colleges within the system of Alamo Colleges.

St. Philips College, one of the oldest and most diverse community colleges in the nation, is the only college to be federally designated as both a historically black college and a Hispanic-serving institution.

Strategies of Behavioral Intervention (SOBI)

Special programs and initiatives have been developed to eliminate barriers and provide educational opportunities for prospective, current, and former students of the Alamo Colleges District.

The Strategies of Behavioral Intervention (SOBI) Employee and Student Guides provides the college community with information about how to address disruptive and threatening behavior by students or visitors at the Alamo Colleges.

Student Development (SDEV)

A course for the new student transitioning to college. Course topics include, but are not limited to: college resources, time management, note-taking, degree plans and transfer strategies, campus culture, career exploration, and college policies and procedures. Required of students having fewer than 15 college level credit hours (not including dual credit).


"Student-Parents" is a term used to describe individuals who are both students pursuing education and parents responsible for raising and caring for their children. These are individuals who are juggling the roles of being students while simultaneously fulfilling their responsibilities as parents.

Student-parents often face unique challenges due to their dual roles. They need to manage their academic commitments while also attending to their children's needs, which can include childcare, school activities, health care, and more. Balancing these responsibilities can be demanding and requires effective time management, support systems, and flexibility.

Whether you are a parent, guardian or caretaker, the Alamo Colleges District recognizes the unique challenges students with children face as they pursue their educational and career goals.

Access to college doesn't just mean academic help; we are committed to helping overcome hurdles that keep students from reaching their goals.


Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC)

A non-profit corporation created in 2003 to promote educational programs and services that benefit Texas higher education. An organization that provides information and resources for matters relating to the community colleges of Texas.

Texas Common Course Numbering System

The course numbering system for lower-division courses that assigns common course numbers to lower-division academic courses in order to facilitate the transfer of courses among institutions of higher education by promoting consistency in course designation and identification.

Texas Education Agency (TEA)

The Texas Education Agency is the state agency that oversees primary and secondary public education. It is headed by the commissioner of education. The mission of TEA is to provide leadership, guidance and resources to help schools meet the educational needs of all students.

Texas Success Initiative (TSI)

A legislatively mandated program effective September 1, 2003, designed to give more flexibility to public higher education institutions in their efforts to ensure that students have the academic skills they need to succeed in higher education. The TSI requires testing of students' academic skills upon entry into public higher education and appropriate counseling, advice, and opportunities--such as developmental education courses or non-course-based education (computer-based instruction or tutoring, for example) --for improving those skills. Each college or university is responsible for determining when students have the appropriate skills to succeed in college.

Transfer Student

A student entering the reporting institution for the first time and who is known to have previously attended another institution at the same level (e.g., undergraduate to undergraduate, graduate to graduate; not undergraduate to graduate).


Undergraduate Student

A student enrolled in a 4- or 5-year bachelor's degree program, an associate's degree program, or a vocational or technical program below the baccalaureate.

United States Department of Education (USDOE)

Department of the federal executive branch responsible for providing federal aid to educational institutions and financial aid to students, keeping national educational records, and conducting some educational research.


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