Accommodations: Changes in how test is administered that do not substantially alter what the test measures; includes changes in presentation format, response format, test setting or test timing. Appropriate accommodations are made to level the playing field, i.e. to provide equal opportunity to demonstrate knowledge.
Achievement/ability discrepancy: A criterion often used to determine whether a child has a learning disability. It asks “is the child working up to expectations?”
Adaptive Behavior is a sort of “practical intelligence”. It is usually measured by scales that identify how well a person manages within his or her own environment.
Affective: A term that refers to emotions or attitudes.
Age of Majority/Transfer of Rights: When a student with a disability reaches the age of 18, all rights accorded to a parent transfer to the student. The parent and student must be informed of the transfer of rights at least one year prior to the student’s 18th birthday.
Alternative educational setting: An educational setting employed when the regular education setting, as defined by the IEP, must be changed. The change is usually temporary and is frequently used as a behavior management technique when school officials decide that the best interests of the student are served by changing placement. The student continues to receive instructional services as defined by the IEP, but school officials need to arrange a meeting with the student’s parents as soon as possible after the change in setting to determine the appropriate new placement.
Americans with Disabilities Act (
Annual goals: are a required component of an IEP. Goals are written for the individual student and can last a maximum of one year.
Asperger’s Syndrome: Was first described by German doctor, Hans Asperger, in 1944. Children with Asperger’s have a qualitative impairment in social interactions with marked delays in nonverbal behaviors (i.e., gesturing, facial expressions, body posture); impairments in establishing peer relationships; absence of “spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests or achievement with others” and delays in social reciprocity. Other characteristics that may be present include preoccupation with one restricted area of interest; inflexibility or rigidity, sticking to a set, sometimes nonfunctional routine; stereotypical and repetitive motor movement; sensory problems; movements clumsy and awkward; or preoccupation with parts or objects.
Assistive Technology Device: Any item, piece of equipment, or product that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. The IEP team determines assistive technology needs.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): A condition identified as a medical diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual –IV (DSM-4). Although it is not a service category under IDEA, children with this condition may be eligible for service under other categories or under Section 504.
Audiology: Related service; includes identification, determination of hearing loss, and referral for habilitation of hearing.
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD): A disability category that affects communication and social interaction , adversely affects educational performance, is generally evident before age 3. Children with autism often engage in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resist environmental change or change in daily routines, and have unusual responses to sensory experiences.
Basic Skills: Skills in subjects such as reading, writing spelling and mathematics.
Behavior Intervention Plan or Behavior Support Plan: A plan of positive interventions in the IEP of a child whose behaviors interfere with his/her learning or that of others.
Categorical placement: Special education programs in which students are grouped on the basis of their IDEA eligibility category. Alternative models include “non-categorical” and “cross-categorical”.
Child Find: Requirement that each state ensure that all children with disabilities are identified, located and evaluated and determine which children are receiving special education and related services.
Chronologically age appropriate: A standard by which children’s activities may be evaluated. Instruction and materials should be directed at the student’s actual age, rather than to the interests and tastes of younger children.
Cognitive: A term that refers to reasoning or intellectual capacity, pertaining to thinking, knowing, understanding and processing information.
Conference: A generic term that may refer to a multidisciplinary team conference, IEP meeting, annual review or other type of meeting. When in doubt, it is important to clarify the purpose of any conference.
Consent: Requirement that the parent be fully informed of all information relating to any action the school wants to take regarding the child, that parents understand consent is voluntary and may be revoked at any time. See also Procedural safeguards notice and prior written notice.
Deaf-Blind: IDEA disability category; includes hearing and visual impairments that cause severe communication, developmental and educational problems that adversely affects educational performance.
Deaf/Hard of Hearing: IDEA disability category; impairment in processing information through hearing that adversely affects educational performance
Delay: Development that does not occur within expected time range.
Developmental Adapted Physical Education: A diversified program of developmental activities, games, sports and rhythms suited to the interests, capabilities and needs of children with disabilities.
Developmental Cognitive Disability: IDEA disability category , a condition resulting in significantly below average intellectual functioning and concurrent deficits in adaptive behavior that adversely affect educational performance
Due process: In general, due process includes the elements of notice, opportunity to be heard and to defend ones’ self. With regard to IDEA, due process refers to a procedure guaranteed by federal law, for resolving disputes regarding special education services.
Early Childhood Special Education: IDEA disability category for children birth through six years of age who either meet the criteria for other disabilities or meet the criteria for developmental delay.
Emotional or Behavioral Disorders (EBD): IDEA disability category in which the student displays one or more behavioral characteristics that are: 1) exhibited at either a much higher or lower rate than is appropriate for one’s age; 2) documented as occurring over an extensive period of time in different environmental settings within the school and community; and 3) interfering consistently with the student’s educational performance and is not the result of intellectual, sensory, cultural or health factors that have not received appropriate attention. Evaluation - Systematic method of obtaining information from tests or other sources; procedures used to determine a child’s eligibility, identify the child’s strengths and needs, and services child requires to meet those needs.
Extended School Year Services (ESY): Special education and related services provided to a qualified student with disabilities beyond the normal school year, in accordance with the student’s Individual Education Plan and at no cost to the parent of the child. The student’s IEP team determines the need for Extended Services.
FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act - A federal law that regulates the management of student records and disclosure of information from those records. The Act has its own administrative enforcement mechanism.
FAPE: Free appropriate public education; special education and related services provided in conformity with an IEP; are without charge; and meet standards of the state education agency.
Fine motor: Functions that require fine muscle movements. For example, writing or typing would require fine motor movement.
Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA): A process of attempting to understand the purpose, motivation and correlates of problem behavior. The result of the process is the development of an appropriate behavior support and management plan.
Functional curriculum: A curriculum focused on practical life skills and usually taught in community based settings with concrete materials that are a regular part of everyday life. The purpose of this type of instruction is to maximize the student’s generalization to real life use of his/her skills.
Gross motor: Functions that require large muscle movements. For example, walking or jumping would require gross motor movements.
Heterogeneous grouping: An educational practice in which students of diverse abilities are placed within the same instructional group.
Homogeneous grouping: An educational practice in which students of similar abilities are placed within the same instructional groups. This practice usually serves as a barrier to the integration of children with disabilities.
IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 - Federal law that grants entitlement for special education services to children with disabilities.
IEE: An Independent Education Evaluation is an evaluation by a qualified person(s) who is not an employee of your school district.
IEP: Individualized Educational Plan - The annually written record of an eligible individual’s special education and related services. The IEP describes the unique educational needs of the student and the manner in which those educational needs will be met.
IEP meeting: A gathering required at least annually under IDEA in with an IEP is developed for a student receiving special education.
Learning Disability: See Specific Learning Disability.
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): A federal mandate that to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities are educated with children who are not disabled.
LEA: Local educational agency - i.e., a local public school district.
Mainstreaming: This term does not actually appear in law. It refers to IDEA’s preference for the education of every child in the least restrictive environment for each student and has been most widely used to refer to the return of children with mild disabilities to a regular classroom for a portion of each school day.
Manifestation Determination Review: If a child with a disability engages in behavior or breaks a rule or code of conduct that applies to non-disabled children and the school proposes to remove the child, the school must hold a hearing to determine if the child’s behavior was caused by the disability.
Mediation: Procedural safeguard to resolve disputes between parents and schools; must be voluntary, cannot be used to deny or delay a right to a due process hearing; must be conducted by a qualified and impartial mediator who is trained in effective mediation techniques.
Modifications: Substantial changes in what the student is expected to demonstrate; includes changes in instructional level, content, and performance criteria, may include changes in test form or format; includes alternate evaluations.
Native language: Language normally used by the child's parents.
Occupational Therapy (OT): A special education related service which is usually focused on the development of a student’s fine motor skills and/ or the identification of adapted ways of accomplishing activities of daily living when a student’s disabilities preclude doing those tasks in typical ways.
OSERS: US Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services - An agency of the federal government’s executive branch within the Department of Education.
Other Health Disability: Disability category under IDEA; refers to limited strength, vitality, alertness due to chronic or acute health problems that adversely affect educational performance.
Orientation and Mobility Services: Related service; includes services to visually impaired students that enable students to move safely at home, school and community.
Parent: Parent, guardian or surrogate parent; may include grandparent or stepparent with whom a child lives and foster parents.
Physically Impaired (PI): Disability category under IDEA, the student has a medically diagnosed physical impairment.
Physical Therapy: Related service; includes therapy to remediate gross motor skills.
Placement: The setting in which the special education service is delivered to the student. It must be derived from the student’s IEP.
Present levels of educational performance: A required IEP component.
Prior written notice: Means by which parents are informed in advance of actions proposed or refused by the school in reference to special education referrals, evaluations and services.
Procedural safeguards notice: Requirement that schools provide full easily understood explanation of procedural safeguards that describe parent’s right to an independent evaluation, to examine records, to request mediation and due process.
Referral: Notice to a school district that a child may be in need of special education. A referral sets certain timelines in place.
Regression/recoupment: The amount of loss of skills a child experiences over an instructional break (primarily summer vacation) and the amount of time it takes him/her to recover those skills. Used by IEP teams to determine the need for Extended School Year Services (ESY).
Related Services: IDEA requires that school districts provide whatever related services (other than medical care which is not for diagnostic purposes) a child needs in order to benefit from his or her special education program.
Satellite program: A classroom operated in another facility. For example, a special education cooperative may rent a classroom in its member school districts’ facilities to operate classes for students who are able to move out of the cooperative’s segregated special education facility.
Section 504: Section 504 is a civil rights law which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Section 504 ensures that the student with a disability has equal access to an education. The student may receive accommodations and modifications.
Severely Multiply Impaired (SMI): A disability category that means concomitant impairments (such as mental retardation-blindness, mental retardation-orthopedic, etc), the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments. The term does not include deaf blindness.
Short-term objectives: A required component of an IEP. Each annual goal must have at least two short-term objectives.
Special Education (SPEC): Specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of an eligible individual, includes the specially designed instruction conducted in schools, in the home, in hospitals and institutions, and in other settings. Special education provides a continuum of services in order to provide for the educational needs of each eligible individual regardless of the nature or severity of the educational needs.
Specific Learning Disability (SLD): Specific learning disability means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations.
Speech or Language Impairment: A disability category that means a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment or a voice impairment, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
Standardized test: Norm-referenced test that compares child’s performance with the performance of a large group of similar children (usually children who are the same age).
Supplementary aids and services: Means aids, services, and supports that are provided in regular education classes that enable children with disabilities to be educated with non-disabled peers to the maximum extent possible.
Surrogate parent: A person trained and appointed by the local district to exercise special education rights on behalf of children with special needs who are wards of the state or otherwise without access to parents. This is not a mechanism for evading parents who disagree with a school’s proposed interventions.
Transition Services: A coordinated set of activities that promote movement from school to post school education, vocational training, integrated employment, continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living or community participation. Transition goals are determined by the IEP team beginning at age 14 and are based on student and family vision, preferences and interests.
Transportation: Related service about travel; includes specialized equipment (i.e., special or adapted buses, lifts and ramps) if required to provide special transportation for a child with a disability.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): Disability category under IDEA; includes acquired injury caused by external physical force and open or closed head injuries that result in impairments; does not include congenital or degenerative brain injuries or brain injuries caused by birth trauma.
Visually Impaired: Disability category under IDEA ; visual impairment including blindness means an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes partial sight and blindness.