Special Education Toolkit: A Parent's Dictionary
Listed below are definitions to commonly used terms and acronyms used in special education. Please take the time to familiarize yourself with these terms.
Academic Intervention Services: Student support services which supplement instruction provided in the general curriculum and are designed to assist students in meeting State learning standards. AIS are available to students with special needs and shall be provided consistent with the student's Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
ADD/ADHD: Attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are medical conditions characterized by a child's inability to focus, while possessing impulsivity, fidgeting and inattention.
Accommodations: Changes that allow a person with a disability to participate fully in an activity. Examples include, extended time, different test format, and alterations to a classroom.
Adapted Physical Education (APE): Specially designed physical education program, using accommodations designed to fit the needs of students who require developmental or corrective instruction.
Annual Review: An evaluation, conducted at least one time per year, for each child with a disability for the purposes of recommending the continuation, modification, or termination of the special education program.
Assessment: Evaluation procedures used to identify a child’s needs and the family’s concerns and priorities about their child’s development.
Assistive Technology Devices and Services: Equipment and services that are approved to be used to improve or maintain the abilities of a child to function including such activities as playing, communicating, or eating.
Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP): Special education term used to describe the written plan used to address problem behavior that includes positive behavioral interventions, strategies and support. May include program modifications and supplementary aids and services.
Cognitive: A term that describes the process used for remembering, reasoning, understanding, and making decisions.
Community Advisory Committee (CAC): A committee whose membership includes parents of school children, school personnel and representatives of the public. This committee advises school administration and local school boards regarding the plan for special education, assists with parent education and promotes public awareness of individuals with special needs.
Complaint Procedure: A formal complaint filed with the County or State Board of Education if a district violates a legal duty or fails to follow a requirement under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. (IDEA)
Consent: The written approval a parent gives to the Committee on Special Education to have their child evaluated and receive services. Consent is always voluntary and a parent may revoke it at any time.
Cumulative File: The records maintained by the local school district for any child enrolled in school. The file may contain evaluations and information about a child’s disability and placement. It also contains grades and the results of standardized assessments. Parents have the right to inspect these files at any time.
Developmental History: Steps or stages of a child’s growth in such skills as sitting, walking, and talking. This information is gathered as part of the social history requirements.
Dominant Language: The language or other mode of communication that the family normally uses. Evaluations of your child are required to be administered in the child’s dominant language.
Due Process: Procedures designed to protect a person’s rights. This includes requirements for confidentiality, consent, and complaint mechanisms.
Educationally Related Support Services (ERSS): Services intended for students who are not eligible for special education services yet eligible to receive speech and counseling services.
Impartial Hearing: A formal process at which a family’s complaints can be heard by an impartial hearing officer who will resolve the dispute or complaint regarding the child’s evaluation, IEP, or certain other issues.
Individualized Education Program (IEP): This IEP is a written plan developed by the CSE which specifies the appropriate level of special education programs and services to be provided to meet the unique educational needs of a student with a disability.
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): Means that placement of students with disabilities in special classes, separate schools, or other removal from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that even with the use of supplementary aids and services, education cannot be satisfactorily achieved.
Mediation: A method for solving a problem that uses persons trained in helping people resolve their own problems. In mediation, the school district and parent will try to reach an agreement with which both parties are satisfied.
Occupational Therapy (OT): Services delivered by an Occupational Therapist that relate to self-help skills, adaptive behavior and play, and sensory and motor and postural development.
Parent Support Group: Discussion and information-sharing meetings for parents of children with disabilities.
Pendency: A due process right that the parent and child have that allows the child and family to continue to receive services as described on the current IEP while the parent works to resolve a dispute.
Physical Therapy (PT): Services provided by a Physical Therapist that relate to large movement difficulties and related functional problems.
Reevaluation Review: A reassessment of the child’s ability and achievement within a three-year period.
Related Services: Means support services such as speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, psychological services, and counseling services. These services can be delivered in an individual or group setting.
Section 504 Accommodation Plan: An educational plan or modifications for a student suspected of a disability who may not require special education services.
Special Education: Specially designed instruction that includes special services or programs.
Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT): A preschool special education teacher who provides direct and indirect service in regular programs or a child’s home for students ages three and four.
Speech Therapy (SP or ST): Services provided by a Speech and Language Pathologist that relate to delays in speech development and communication.
State Education Department (SED): Refers to the state agency that establishes education regulations and provides support to counties and school districts.