Look, since this is a monster of an article, I’ll be brief. I’ve been sitting on this for literally years–years ago someone asked if I would publish it on my site. I am just now getting around to this giant PDF list of special education terms.

Not all IEP terms and special education acronyms are used in all states. I have a separate post with a spreadsheet to IEP laws in all 50 states.

special education terminology pdf booklet cover

This list of special education terms and acronyms is in alphabetical order. The PDF list of special education terminology is at the end, for you to download.

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Special Education Terminology

This list is mostly in alphabetical order. I also want to be clear–that many of these definitions are straight from the regs, and I copied and pasted. Words like “disorder” and “impairment” may be ableist in nature, but I felt it is important to share the exact language that school staff are using and reading.

Yes, many of these terms lead to ableism instead of acceptance. However, we must know and acknowledge what we are up against if we are ever going to change it.

Special Education Terms

Adapted Physical Education (APE): Specially designed physical education program, using accommodations designed to fit the needs of students who require developmental or corrective instruction in PE.

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.

Accommodations: Curricular adaptations that compensate for learners’ weaknesses without modifying the curriculum. Students receiving accommodations read the same material and take the same tests as their peers without disabilities.

Acquisition Deficit: A type of social skills deficit that stems from a lack of knowledge: a child does not understand a skill, and thus cannot master it.

Adaptations: Changes in educational environments that allow students with disabilities to participate in inclusive environments by compensating for learners’ weaknesses.

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP): The measure by which schools, districts and states are held accountable for student performance under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Every state has the freedom to define AYP. All students, including those in special education programs, must demonstrate adequate yearly progress, until 2014 when the law assumes all students have met the standards. It is very likely that the 2014 date and perhaps the  notion of Annual Yearly Progress will be significantly changed with the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). NCLB was replaced with ESSA.

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.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD): An out-of-date term that was previously used to describe children who have difficulty paying attention, but are not significantly impulsive or hyperactive. Today the term ADD is usually used to describe the inattentive subtype of AD/HD or as a synonym for AD/HD.

Anxiety in Children: Defined as extreme agitation, filled with tension and dread. Anxiety is different than fear. Children with anxiety may or may not qualify for special education. Those who need modifications to their school day can achieve this through a 504 plan.

Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD): The name given to the committee used in some states (in other states not using the term ARD, they are called IEP teams or IEP committees) that is responsible for the development and review of a child’s individualized education plan (IEP), evaluation and re-evaluation, functional behavioral analysis (FBA), and behavior intervention plan (BIP). The ARD committee meets at least once per year to review the IEP and construct a new plan for the coming year. In addition to the annual review meeting, other meetings can be called by teachers or parents whenever needed. This group is responsible for creating, implementing and maintaining the educational program from students with disabilities, as identified by IDEA.

Annual Review (AR): The yearly meeting of the individualized education program (IEP) team (or called ARD committee in some states). The AR is designed to gather all the IEP team members in one location to update one another on a student’s needs and performance by reviewing progress toward goals and looking at new data like work samples and recent testing.

Assessment or Evaluation: Term used to describe the testing and diagnostic processes leading up to the development of an appropriate IEP for a student with special education needs.

Antecedent Behavioral Consequences Chart (ABC): A tool used to create a record of disruptive behaviors that is utilized as part of functional behavioral assessment (FBA) to help to determine the triggers of and motivations behind these behaviors. ABCs are used to record what happened just before a behavior, a description of the behavior itself and the consequence of the behavior.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA): A technique for correcting behavior and social skill deficits in children with special needs. It is based on the understanding that children are more likely to repeat desired behaviors when these behaviors are met with positive reinforcement, and that they are less likely to repeat undesirable behaviors that are not rewarded. One significant part of ABA is discrete trial training (DTT), in which a skill is broken down into its most basic components so that these components may be taught one at a time.

mom who doesn't know IEPs

Assessment: Evaluations used to identify a student’s strengths, weaknesses and progress. These tests are designed to provide an overview of a child’s academic performance, basic cognitive functioning and/or his or her current strengths or weaknesses; they can also test hearing and vision. Assessments can consist of anything from the observations of a teacher or aide to standardized and criterion-referenced tests to complex, multi-stage procedures such as a group of teachers assembling a large portfolio of student work.

Assessment Plan: A written description of the assessments that will be used to evaluate a student’s strengths, weaknesses and progress and to determine his or her eligibility for special education services and the types of services that would help that student succeed. In some states the school district is given 15 days to decide which testing services will be used and put that into a plan, while in other states the time frame is not defined. However, IDEA gives only 60 days to complete an evaluation from the time a parent gives permission.

Assistive Technology (AT): Assistive technology is technology used by individuals with disabilities in order to perform functions that might otherwise be difficult or impossible. Assistive technology can include mobility devices such as walkers and wheelchairs, as well as hardware, software and peripherals that assist people with disabilities in accessing computers or other information technologies.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication Device (AAC): AAC includes all forms of communication (other than oral speech) that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas. An AAC device is a tool that uses a non-speech mode of communication to augment spoken language. AAC devices include electronic devices that digitize or synthesize speech and non-electronic communication aids such as manual communication boards.

Asperger’s Syndrome: A type of pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) that involves delays in the development of basic skills, including socializing, coordination and the ability to communicate. (term no longer used)

Autism: A brain development disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, communication and by restricted and repetitive behavior. Signs usually begin before a child is 3 years old. (this is the definition you will find in most special education eligibility regs plus the DSM; I’m not saying I agree with them!)

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.

Bipolar Disorders: Characterized by cycles of mania alternating with depression. It is difficult to diagnose children with this disorder and often controversial.

Blindness: Condition defined by lacking visual perception due to physiological or neurological factors.

Cerebral Palsy: A series of motor problems and physical disorders related to brain injury. CP causes uncontrollable reflex movements and muscle tightness and may cause problems in balance and depth perception. Severe cases can result in mental retardation, seizures or vision and hearing problems.

Common Core Standards: A shared set of evidence based national standards developed through state led initiatives. Common Core is designed to have fewer, simplified standards. They were created by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers. Officials from 48 states participated in the process to develop the standards over several years.

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)

child using ipad

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.

Child Find Program: A program, mandated by IDEA, that continuously searches for and evaluates children who may have a disability. Child Find Programs can vary widely from school district to school district.

Classroom Management: The way in which a class is arranged. This involves planning every aspect of a lesson, routines, procedures, interactions and the discipline in the classroom. [LINK to Behavior and Classroom Management-intro]

Collaborative Teaching: A teaching strategy in which two or more teachers work together, sharing responsibilities to help all students succeed in the classroom.

Curriculum-Based Measurements (CBM): Small, regular evaluations used to determine how well a student is learning in various subject areas. CBM can involve checklists or oral questions which the teacher uses to gauge student understanding and skill in a particular curriculum. These measurements are part of the monitoring component of the RTI process.

Cut Point, Cut Scores: Scores on screening tools, usually selected by a school district, that are used to determine whether or not a student needs additional testing or intervention.

Data-Based Decisions: A component of the RTI process that involves using information collected through the screening process to determine the intensity and duration of the needed intervention. NOTE: RTI and MTSS are GEN ED programs, not special ed.

Deaf-Blindness (DB): Simultaneous hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness.

Deaf-Hard of Hearing (DOHH): See Deafness and/or Hearing Impairment.

Deafness: A hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification.

Designated Instruction Services (DIS): Instruction and services not normally provided by regular classes, resource specialist programs or special day classes. They include speech therapy and adaptive physical education.

Developmental and Social History: A narrative assessment formulated by a child’s classroom teacher, parents, pediatrician and school specialists, focusing on issues such as the child’s health history, developmental milestones, genetic factors, friendships, family relationships, hobbies, behavioral issues and academic performance. A developmental and social history is a common element of an assessment plan.

Developmental Delay (DD): A delay in one or more of the following areas of childhood development: cognitive development, physical development (including vision and hearing), communication development, social and/or emotional development and adaptive development (including eating skills, dressing and toileting skills and other areas of personal responsibility).

Direct Assessment: A component of functional behavioral assessment (FBA) that involves recording objective information about a student’s disruptive behavior. This can entail using a scatter plot form to show the behavior’s frequency and time of day, as well as using an antecedent-behavioral-consequences chart (ABC).

Discrete Trial Training (DTT): A part of applied behavioral analysis (ABA) in which a skill is broken down into its most basic components so that these components may be taught one at a time.

Differential Standards for Graduation: Standards for graduation that may be modified for students with exceptional needs.

Disability: Physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

Due Process: Special education term used to describe the process where parents may disagree with the program recommendations of the school district. The notice must be given in writing within 30 days. IDEA provides procedural safeguards, which also define a parent’s dispute resolution options including Due Process.

IEP Terms

Early Intervention: Programs for developmentally delayed infants and toddlers through 35 months of age; designed to help prevent problems as the child matures.

Emotional Disturbance (ED): Term used to describe a diagnosable mental, behavioral or emotional disorder that lasts for a significant duration that meets the criteria within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Can also be a mental health issue including, but not limited to, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder (sometimes called manic-depression), conduct disorders, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and psychotic disorders.

Extended School Year Services (ESY): An extended school year is a component of special education services for students with unique needs who require services in excess of the regular academic year. Extended year often refers to summer school, but they are two different things.

Fluency Deficit: A type of instructional deficit in which a child needs to practice a skill or receive coaching in order to use a skill effectively. An example is a reading fluency deficit, where the child cannot read smoothly or does so at too slow a rate.

Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE): The education to which every student is entitled under IDEA. Every student is entitled to an education that is appropriate for his or her unique needs and that is provided free of charge.

Functional Behavior Analysis (FBA): A process which describes a student’s disruptive behaviors, looks for the reasons behind the behaviors and offers interventions that teach new behaviors to replace the undesired ones.

child doing a worksheet

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE): Special education and related services are provided at public expense, without charge to the parents.

Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA): A problem solving process for addressing inappropriate behavior.

Group Intelligence Tests: Tests, often administered in the general education classroom, that measure academic ability as well as a child’s cognitive level. It is through these types of tests that a teacher might first suspect that a student has a learning disability.

Highly Qualified Teachers (HQT): An initiative of the No Child Left Behind Act, the federal definition of a highly qualified teacher is one who meets all of the following criteria: Fully certified and/or licensed by the state; holds at least a bachelor degree from a four-year institution; demonstrates competence in each core academic subject area in which the teacher teaches. The term highly qualified is not always synonymous with state certification.

Inclusion, Inclusive Classroom: The term inclusion communicates an all-embracing societal ideology. Regarding individuals with disabilities and special education, inclusion secures opportunities for students with disabilities to learn inside mainstream classrooms. Mainstream classrooms in which students with disabilities learn are known as inclusive classrooms.

Hearing Impairment: Full or partial decrease in the ability to detect or understand sounds.

Home/Hospital Instruction: Students with verified medical conditions, which prevent them from attending school, may receive services on a temporary basis in the home or hospital with a physician’s referral.

Inclusion: Term used to describe services that place students with disabilities in general education classrooms with appropriate support services. Student may receive instruction from both a general education teacher and a special education teacher.

Indirect Assessment: A component of functional behavioral assessment (FBA) that involves interviewing teachers, parents and other adults who have contact with a student, asking questions about that student’s disruptive behavior and when and where it occurs.

IEP Terminology

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004): The original legislation was written in 1975 guaranteeing students with disabilities a free and appropriate public education and the right to be educated with their non-disabled peers. Congress has reauthorized this federal law. The most recent revision occurred in 2004.

Individualized Education Plan (IEP): Special education term outlined by IDEA to define the written document that states the disabled child’s goals, objectives and services for students receiving special education.

IEP Team: The team of qualified professionals made up of the parent, special education teacher, interpreter of test data, district representative, and general education teacher at a minimum. This group makes all decisions related to the instructional program of a child with special needs, including placement and services provided. In some states this team is called the admission, review and dismissal (ARD) team. ARD is a Texas specific term.

Informed Consent: The signed consent of a parent that describes what the parent is consenting to; informed consent must be obtained before a district assesses, makes a major revision to a child’s program, continues, or stops service for a child’s disability.

Intellectual Disability (ID): Significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning, existing simultaneously with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. ID has been referred to as “Mental Retardation” (MR) in the past, and the term and its acronym may be used colloquially or on older documentation. (The federal government has passed legislation changing this term, but the legislation gave the states no deadline for changing the term in state laws/documents. Most states have already changed the term.)  It is not, however, a currently accepted practice to refer to individuals with intellectual disabilities as mentally retarded.

Interventions: Sets of teaching procedures used by educators to help students who are struggling with a skill or lesson succeed in the classroom.

Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE): A school district is required by law to conduct assessments for students who may be eligible for special education. If the parent disagrees with the results of a school district’s evaluation conducted on their child, they have the right to request an independent educational evaluation. The district must provide parents with information about how to obtain an IEE. An independent educational evaluation means an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the school district. Public expense means the school district pays for the full cost of the evaluation and that it is provided at no cost to the parent.

Individualized Education Program Team: Term used to describe the committee of parents, teachers, administrators and school personnel that provides services to the student. The committee may also include medical professional and other relevant parties. The team reviews assessment results, determines goals and objectives and program placement for the child needing services.

Individualized Family Service Plan: (IFSP) A process of providing early intervention services for children ages 0-3 with special needs. Family based needs are identified and a written plan is developed and reviewed periodically.

Individualized Transition Plan (ITP): This plan starts at age 16/14/12 and addresses areas of post-school activities, post secondary education, employment, community experiences and daily living skills.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): The placement of a special needs student in a manner promoting the maximum possible interaction with the general school population. Placement options are offered on a continuum including regular classroom with no support services, regular classroom with support services, designated instruction services, special day classes and private special education programs.

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Local Education Agency (LEA): Term used to describe a school district participating in a SELPA.

Modifications: Curricular adaptations that compensate for learners’ weaknesses by changing or lowering expectations or standards.

Monitoring: A component of the RTI process that involves assessing, keeping accurate records of and monitoring student progress, responsiveness to instruction and intervention. The term is also used for a state’s evaluation of each district’s compliance with mandates of IDEA and state special education code. (RTI and MTSS are gen ed programs, not special ed)

Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team (MET or MDT): The name used for the group of trained professionals that conduct eligibility and review assessments. These members are often the same as the IEP Team, but the law does not define a MET or MDT, simply calls them a group of qualified professionals.

Multiple Disabilities: Simultaneous impairments (such as intellectual disability-blindness, intellectual disability-orthopedic impairment, etc.), the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in a special education program solely for one of the impairments. The term does not include deaf-blindness.

Multiple Intelligences Theory: A theory which outlines students’ varied approaches for processing information (known as “intelligences”) and how teachers can access these pathways.

Native Language: The first language of an individual. A school district is required to evaluate a student in his or her native language, or document proficiency in English, before they can identify that student as having a disability and provide special education services. In addition, parents must be offered evaluation plans and individualized education plans (IEPs) in their native language before giving informed consent.

Natural Environment: An educational setting that is comparable to the setting provided to children without disabilities.

Mainstreaming: Outdated Term used to describe the integration of children with special needs into regular classrooms for part of the school day. The remainder of the day is in a special education classroom. The term most often used today is inclusive classroom or inclusion classroom.

504 plan family
Section 504 Plans

Manifestation Determination: Within 10 school days of any decision to change the placement of a child with a disability because of violation of school code, the IEP team must review all relevant information in the student’s file to determine if the conduct in question was caused by the child’s disability or if the conduct was a direct result of the school district’s failure to implement the child’s IEP.

Non-public School (NPS) Districts contract with non-public schools when an appropriate placement cannot be found within the scope of the public education setting. Non-public school placement is sought only after efforts to find appropriate placement in public schools have been exhausted.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder(OCD): OCD is an anxiety disorder that presents itself as recurrent, persistent obsessions or compulsions. Obsessions are intrusive ideas, thoughts or images while compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that the child feels they must perform.

Occupational Therapists: Provide consultation and support to staff to improve a student’s educational performance related to fine motor and sensory integration development.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD): A child who defies authority by disobeying, talking back, arguing or being hostile in a way that is excessive compared to other children and this pattern continues for more than six months may be determined to have ODD. ODD often occurs with other behavioral problems such as ADHD, learning disabilities and anxiety disorders.

Orthopedic Impairment: Term used to define impairments caused by congenital anomaly, impairments by diseases and impairments by other causes.

Observational Records: Information about a child’s academic performance provided by anyone who works with a child. Observational records are a common element of an assessment plan.

Occupational Therapist (OT): A professional who treats patients with injuries, illnesses or disabilities through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help these patients develop, recover and improve the skills needed for daily living and working.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapists.htm

Orthopedic Impairment (OI): Physical disabilities which could affect the academic process.

Outcomes: Short-term goals that are a critical component of an individualized family service plan (IFSP). They must be relevant, specific and measurable.

Performance Deficit: A social or academic skills deficit in which a student understands a particular skill, but fails to implement it consistently.

Performance-Based Tests: Evaluations, such as the Woodcock Johnson, Third Edition (WJIII) or the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT), that are used to help determine a child’s eligibility for special education services.

Prior Written Notice (PWN)-According to IDEA, parents must be notified in their native language before a school district makes or denies any changes to a child’s IEP. This includes before a child is evaluated, moved to or out of non-public placement and before changes in services are made. The purpose of this notice is to give parents an opportunity to respond to the proposed changes before they occur.

Other Health Impaired: Term used to describe limited strength, vitality and alertness that results in limited ability in the educational environment. Impairment could be a result of chronic health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder, epilepsy, heart condition, hemophilia, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever and sickle cell anemia.

Parent Consent: Special education term used by IDEA that states you have been fully informed in your native language or other mode of communication of all the information about the action for which you are giving consent and that you understand and agree in writing to that action.

Performance Deficit: A social or academic skills deficit in which a student understands a particular skill, but fails to implement it consistently.

student doing homework

Performance-Based Tests: Evaluations, such as the Woodcock Johnson, Third Edition (WJIII) or the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT), that are used to help determine a child’s eligibility for special education services.

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS): A type of augmentative alternative communication (AAC) originally developed for children with autism. The primary purpose of PECS is to teach individuals with autism to initiate communication. Individuals are taught to initiate by handing a picture to a communication partner in exchange for a desired item.

Positive Behavior Support (PBS): An approach to eliminate challenging behaviors and replace them with pro-social skills.

Present Levels: A component of an individualized education program (IEP) that defines a student’s strengths and weaknesses, current levels of academic achievement, and current levels of functional performance. Before 2004 this part of the IEP was called present levels of performance; the current term is present levels of academic achievement and functional performance (PLAAFP).

Physical Therapists: Provide consultation and support to staff to improve a student’s educational performance related to functional gross motor development.

Private School: There are new laws regulating the rights of students with disabilities whose parents place them in private schools. When a student is enrolled in private school and has academic difficulties, the school where the student attends needs to inform the parent and the local public school district of the student’s difficulties. The district of residence may assess the student to determine if the student qualifies for special education. If they do qualify, the district of residence is responsible for writing an Individualized Education Plan

Residential and Private Placements: Part B of IDEA does not require a school district to pay for the cost of education for your disabled child at a private school or facility if the school district made free appropriate public education available to your child and you chose to place your child in private placement.

Resource Specialists: Provide instructional planning and support and direct services to students who needs have been identified in an IEP and are assigned to general education classrooms for the majority of their school day.

Resource Specialist Program (RSP): Term used to describe a program that provides instruction, materials and support services to students with identified disabilities who are assigned to general classroom for more than 50% of their school day.

Response to Intervention (RTI): A process used by educators to help students who are struggling with a skill or lesson. If a child does not respond to the initial interventions, more focused interventions are used to help the child master the skill. RTI strategies address both learning and behavior.

Scatter Plot: A form used in direct assessment to record disruptive behavior and show the behavior’s frequency and the time of day at which it occurs.

Skill Evaluation: Diagnostic measures for determining a child’s gross motor skills, fine manipulative skills and hearing, sight, speech and language abilities, administered by specialists such as a school speech pathologist or general practitioner. A skills evaluation is a common element of an assessment plan.

Special Education (SPED): Term used in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that is defined as specially designed instruction to increase the student’s chances for success.

Specific Learning Disability (SLD): A disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or written language, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or to do mathematical calculations. Specific learning disabilities include conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia and developmental aphasia. The term does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance or of environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage.

Source: Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education

Speech or Language Impairment (SLI): A communication disorder such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment or a voice impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP): Also known as a speech therapist, a professional who diagnoses and treats communication and swallowing disorders.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

School Psychologist: Assist in the identification of intellectual, social and emotional needs of students. They provide consultation and support to families and staff regarding behavior and conditions related to learning. They plan programs to meet the special needs of children and often serve as a facilitator during an IEP meeting.

Sensory Processing Disorder: A complex brain disorder that causes a child to misinterpret everyday sensory information like movement, sound and touch. Children with SPD may seek out intense sensory experiences or feel overwhelmed with information.

Specific Learning Disability: Special education term used to define a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or using language spoken or written that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or do mathematical equations.

Speech and Language Impairments: Communication disorders such as stuttering, impaired articulation, language impairment or voice impairment.

Speech and Language Specialists: Assesses students for possible delayed speech and language skills and provides direct services in the area of phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics. They are also available regarding hearing impairments and amplification.

SSDI: Social security disability insurance benefits are provided to qualified individuals who cannot engage in substantial gainful work activity because of a disability and who have paid into the system or has a parent who has paid into the Social Security system.

SSI: Supplemental Security Income benefits are provided to qualified individuals who cannot engage in substantial gainful work activity because of a disability and who fall below certain assets and income levels.

Special Day Class (SDC): Term used to describe a self contained special education class which provides services to students with intensive needs that cannot be met by the general education program, RSP or DIS program. Classes consist of more then 50% of the student’s day.

Stanford Binet Intelligence Scale (derived from the Binet-Simon Test): A norm-referenced individual intelligence test, administered by the school psychologist or special education team. The questions are designed to help educators differentiate between students performing below grade level because of cognitive disabilities and those who do so for other reasons.

“Stay Put” Law: A law which states that a parent can request that a child remain in his or her current educational placement while an IEP or offer of FAPE is in dispute.

Student Baseline: A student’s starting point, determined by data collected through universal screening tools. A student’s baseline is used to measure his or her progress throughout the year.

Student Study Team (SST): A more common term is Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team (MET or MDT). It is a team comprised of the school psychologist, parents and the school’s special education team that meets when a child continues to struggle after attempts have been made to remedy problems without special education services. The SST or MET decides if the student should be evaluated, or if he or she will continue without special education services.

State Schools: Most states operate state run residential schools for deaf and blind students.

Student Study Team (SST): A group that evaluates a child’s performance, makes recommendations for success and develops a formal plan. The team includes the classroom teacher, parents, and educational specialists. They may make a recommendation for a special education evaluation.

Tourette’s Syndrome: Disorder that includes multiple motor and one or more vocal tics, which occur many times per day, nearly daily. If a child has Tourette’s syndrome, symptoms tend to appear between the ages of 3-10 years old.

Traumatic Brain Injury: An acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment. Applies to open or closed head injuries.

IEP Terms: Transition to 504

Transition IEP: IDEA mandates that at age 16, the IEP must include a statement about transition including goals for post-secondary activities and the services needed to achieve these goals. This is referred to an Individual Transition Plan or (ITP).

Transition/Transition Plan: Transition is a general term used to describe a change in a student’s school or program. A transition plan is specific to an IEP: a student who will turn 16 within the life of his or her individualized education program must have a transition goal and plan that outlines how he or she will transition to life beyond high school.

Transition Meeting: A meeting of the individualized education program (IEP) team prior to a student moving into a new program or school.

Turner’s Syndrome: This rare genetic disorder affects females and is characterized by the absence of an X chromosome. Characteristics include small stature, limited development of sexual characteristics, low hairline and abnormal eye and bone development.

Triennial Review (Tri): An IEP review meeting that takes place every three years. During this meeting, the IEP team meets to discuss a student’s continuing eligibility for special education services. It is often combined with the IEP annual review (AR).

Universal Design: An approach that makes a curriculum accessible to all students, regardless of their backgrounds, learning styles and abilities.

Universal Screening Tool: A test that can correctly identify students who are struggling with grade-level concepts or skills. A universal screening tool is used as part of the RTI process.

Visual Impairment (VI): An impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness.

Widening Gap: The gap between what a child with a disability knows and what his or her peers know, which widens as he or she advances to higher grades.

Vision Specialists: Provide consultation and support to staff and direct instructional support to students with visual impairments. They provide functional vision assessments and curriculum modifications including Braille, large type and aural media.

Workability Program: These programs focus on preparing high school students with disabilities for successful transition to employment, continuing education and quality adult life with an emphasis on work based learning opportunities.

504 Plan: The 504 Plan is a plan developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the Rehabilitation Act and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives accommodations that will ensure their academic success and access to the learning environment. These accommodations and modifications must ensure that there is no discrimination because of the child’s disability.

Printable List of Special Education Terms

I always refer to this as “the knowledge base I wish I didn’t have to have.” But I do, and if you’re reading this post, you probably do too.

If you’re going to do something, do it well. I’d much rather have a different hobby, but I like that I can assist my child in this way.

Good luck and you can always ask questions in our parent forums.

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