When I first started this journey, I swore that I wouldn’t do this! I swore that I would never be one of “those people.” Those people who speak in IEP and special education acronyms. Guess what? I am one.

This list of special education acronyms was crowdsourced from our parent group. We asked all the parent to contribute what they felt are the most commonly used IEP acronyms, and this is their list.

List of Special Education Acronyms

ABAApplied Behavior Analysis
APSApproved Private School
AT/AACAssistive Technology or
Augmented Communication (different acronyms but often paired)
BCBABoard Certified Behavior Analyst
BIP/PSP/PBSPBehavior Improvement Plan/Positive Support Plan
BASCBehavior Assessment System for Children
CBICommunity Based Instruction
DIBELSDynamic Indicator of Basic Early Literacy Skills, an early reading assessment.
EDEmotionally Disturbed
ER Evaluation Report. Your child only ever receives one ER report. Everything after the first one is an RR.
ESYExtended School Year
FAPEFree and Appropriate Education
FBAFunctional Behavior Assessment
IEEIndependent Education Evaluation
LEALocal Education Agency
LRELeast Restrictive Environment
MAMedical Assistance, Medicaid
OCROffice of Civil Rights
PLOPPresent Levels of Performance or PLAAFP
PTPhysical Therapy/Therapist (work on gross motor skills)
PTEPermission to Evaluate
PWNPrior Written Notice
O & MOrientation and Mobility
RRRe-evaluation Report, for most every 3 years.
SDSchool District
SDISpecially Designed Instruction
SLDSpecific Learning Disability
SLPSpeech Language Pathologist
TVITeacher of the Visually Impaired
OTOccupational Therapy/Therapist (fine motor skills)
ASDAutism Spectrum Disorder (one of the disability classifications on an IEP)
EDEmotionally Disturbed (one of the disability classifications on an IEP)
ELL/ESLEnglish Language Learner/Second Language
EIEarly Intervention
IFSPIndividual Family Service Plan
OHIOther Health Impaired (one of the disability classifications on an IEP) ADHD falls under this
RTI/MDSSResponse to Intervention or Multi Disciplinary Supports Services, RTI is NOT special education
FERPAFederal Education Records Privacy Act
HHHard of Hearing
IEPIndividualized Education Plan
AEDYAlternative Education for Disruptive Youth
These are some of the commonly used Special Education Acronyms.

If you are looking for definitions of these special education acronyms, we have a whole separate post with Special Education Terminolgy.

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IEP Stands For…..

And let’s face it, acronyms exist for a reason. IEP stands for Individualized Education Plan.

To say “individualized education plan” over and over is much more cumbersome than IEP. Note: on the IDEA website, they use Program, not Plan.

However, on the Pattan site, it says Plan. Plan and Program are often used interchangeably.

The FAPE acronym is Free and Appropriate Education.

Special Education Acronyms

Or NOREP, that’s a long one. What’s a NOREP? Glad you asked! That IEP acronym stands for Notice of Recommended Educational Placement, and is PA specific. It’s what we call the PWN.

As if learning about a PWN wasn’t enough work, PA residents have to learn it twice.

For a long time, I thought of publishing a list of acronyms on here. Pattan puts one out and I have it. But they are also available online.

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Some of the sites I have seen list up to 3 pages of them! So what I decided to do, poll the parents in the chat group about what acronyms they find themselves using frequently.

So no, I haven’t statistically or scientifically verified that these are the most commonly used special education abbreviations. This is anecdotal information, but my group has well over 200k parents in it.

And, there definitely was a pattern. If I was going to recommend a list of IEP acronyms that you should memorize, this would be the list.

In this list of special education acronyms, I also have hyperlinked most of them to a post explaining more about it. I wanted to keep the explanations brief on this list.

IEP Acronyms

For most of them, you can click on the Special Education Acronym to get more information. Also, if you scroll down I have more information and even a free printable of IEP Acronyms.

ABAApplied Behavior Analysis
APSApproved Private School
AT/AACAssistive Technology/Augmented Communication
BCBABoard Certified Behavior Analyst
BIP/PSP/PBSPBehavior Improvement Plan/Positive Support Plan
BASCBehavior Assessment System for Children
CBICommunity Based Instruction
DIBELSDynamic Indicator of Basic Early Literacy Skills, an early reading assessment.
EDEmotionally Disturbed
ER Evaluation Report. Your child only ever receives one ER report. Everything after the first one is an RR.
ESYExtended School Year
FAPEFree and Appropriate Education
FBAFunctional Behavior Assessment
IEEIndependent Education Evaluation
LEALocal Education Agency
LRELeast Restrictive Environment
MAMedical Assistance, Medicaid
OCROffice of Civil Rights
PLOPPresent Levels of Performance or PLAAFP
PTPhysical Therapy/Therapist (work on gross motor skills)
PTEPermission to Evaluate
PWNPrior Written Notice
O & MOrientation and Mobility
RRRe-evaluation Report, for most every 3 years.
SDSchool District
SDISpecially Designed Instruction
SLDSpecific Learning Disability
SLPSpeech Language Pathologist
TVITeacher of the Visually Impaired
OTOccupational Therapy/Therapist (fine motor skills)
ASDAutism Spectrum Disorder (one of the disability classifications on an IEP)
EDEmotionally Disturbed (one of the disability classifications on an IEP)
ELL/ESLEnglish Language Learner/Second Language
EIEarly Intervention
IFSPIndividual Family Service Plan
OHIOther Health Impaired (one of the disability classifications on an IEP) ADHD falls under this
RTI/MDSSResponse to Intervention or Multi Disciplinary Supports Services, RTI is NOT special education
FERPAFederal Education Records Privacy Act
HHHard of Hearing
IEPIndividualized Education Plan
AEDYAlternative Education for Disruptive Youth
These are some of the commonly used Special Education Acronyms.

State Specific Special Education Terms

I am highlighting some state specific special education terms for this special education glossary, and yes, I have included PA specific ones. Since I live in PA, may of my readers do too! If you have one you wish to be added, just email us.

  1. IU-Intermediate Unit, these are unique to PA and we have 29 of them, they are the “intermediate unit” that is the link between the state department of education and the school district, provide special ed services
  2. ARD-this is unique to Texas, stands for Admission, Review, Dismissal
  3. PDE-Pennsylvania Department of Education
  4. LTFLocal Task Force, PA only, please join yours!
  5. NOREP-Notice of Recommended Educational Placement. It’s what PA calls the PWN.

Printable List of Special Education Acronyms

If you want, print this special ed acronym cheat sheet so you have it for IEP meetings and correspondence.


Special Education Acronyms List

If you want a graphic, here you go. This is a list of acronyms for special education, just in a prettier format than above.

special education acronyms chart

But, once your child has an IEP for a few years, you’ll be speaking in acronyms too!

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