Special Education Technical Terms and Abbreviations

  • Accommodations:  Services or supports used to enable a student to fully access the subject matter and instruction.  An accommodation does not alter the content or expectation; instead it is an adjustment to instructional methods.  Accommodations should be specified in a student’s IEP or 504 Plan.  Examples include recorded books, content enhancements, and allowing additional time to take a test. 

    Adaptations:  Modifications of the delivery of instruction or materials used with a student. 

    Adapted Physical Education:  A program of developmental activities, games, sports, and rhythms suited to the interests, capabilities and needs of students with disabilities who may not successfully engage in a regular physical education program. 

    Adaptive Behavior:  The ability of an individual to meet the standards of personal independence as well as social responsibility appropriate for his or her chronological age and cultural group.

    Administrative Law Judge (ALJ):  Judges provided by Office of Administrative Hearings to conduct Due Process Hearings in a manner similar to civil court trials.  They are neutral fact-finders, fully independent of the agencies whose attorneys appear before them. 

    Advocate:  A person who has a high degree of skill and knowledge about education and gives expert advice about this field for the purpose of supporting children. 

    Age Equivalent:  A way of reporting test scores in which the score is equal to that of an average child of that age.  (e.g., an age equivalent score of 8.6 means that the child did as well as an average child who is 8 years and 6 months old.) 

    Age of Majority:  When an individual with exceptional needs reaches the age of 18 the district provides notice of procedural safeguards to the student and his/her parents.  All rights accorded to a parent then transfer to the student.  Beginning at least one year before, the student’s IEP must include a statement that the student has been informed of this notice. 

    Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR):  an informal and FREE method of settling concerns or disagreements between a parent and a LEA.  It is a process that encourages all parties to problem-solve and reach a mutually beneficial agreement through strategies such as professional development, parent training, facilitated IEP meetings, resolution sessions, and mediation meetings. 

    Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA):  Legislation enacted to prohibit discrimination based on disability. 

    Antecedent:  Something that comes before, precedes, or causes a behavior. 

    Aphasia:  a weakening or loss of the ability to send and/or receive verbal and/or written messages; not connected with diseases of the vocal cords, eyes, or ears. 

    Appropriate Placement:  a school placement in which the IEP of a student can be implemented 

    Aptitude Test:  a test which measures someone’s capacity to learn something. 

    Articulation:  The process of executing movements of the speech organs (tongue, lips, jaw, vocal cords) to produce speech sounds. 

    Assessment/Evaluation:  Collecting and bringing together of information about a student’s learning needs to determine his/her eligibility for special education and services.  This process may include standardized tests as well as informal methods such as observations, interview, review of school records and work samples.  The goal is to determine an individual’s strengths and weaknesses to plan, for his/her educational services.  “intelligence” or “achievement”; tests which have a standard set of directions for their use and interpretation

    Assistive Technology (AT):  Any item, piece of equipment, product, or system, whether acquired commercially, modified or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of students with disabilities. 

    At-risk:  An infant, child, or youth who has a high probability of exhibiting delays in development or of developing a disability. 

    Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD).  A student that exhibits a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity might be diagnosed with ADD or ADHD and eligible for special education under Other Health Impairment, Specific Learning Disability, and/or emotional disturbance categories when the ADD/ADHD adversely affects educational performance.  

    Audiological Exam:  a test of a person’s hearing ability. 

    Audiologist:  A professional who studies the science of hearing and provides education and treatment for persons with hearing loss. 

    Auditory Comprehension:  the ability to understand what one hears. 

    Auditory Discrimination:  The ability to detect subtle differences in sounds and to sort and compare them with each other. Example:  cap-cup, tap-tup. 

    Auditory Memory:  the ability to remember what is heard (words, numbers, and stories). 

    Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD):  A developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three which adversely affects a child’s education performance.  Characteristics often associated with autism are engaging in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to changes in daily routines or the environment, and unusual responses to sensory experience.  Autism Spectrum Disorder encompasses a broad definition of autism that includes related disabilities such as Aspberger Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder.

    Average Daily Attendance (ADA):  The state of California pays districts based on the total ADA for all students in the district. (AB 602) 

    Behavioral Objectives:  objectives which are written to describe what a child will be able to do as a result of some planned instructions.  Behavioral objectives are usually interpreted as objectives that can be measured in some definitive or quantitative way.  

    Behavior Intervention:  Systematic implementation of procedures designed to promote lasting, positive changes in the student’s behavior in the least restrictive environment; may include an individualized plan to address behaviors that impede a student’s learning or the learning of others and describes positive changes to the environment, supports, instructional materials and strategies to be used to promote alternative replacement behaviors that support classroom success. 

    Blind:  An impairment in which an individual may have some light or form perception or be4 totally without sight; when a child relies basically on senses other than vision as a major channel for learning. 

    California Alternative Performance Assessment (CAPA):  Part of California’s state assessment system designed for students whose curriculum is more functional than academic. 

    California Children’s Services (CCS):  A California state agency that provides medically necessary services/equipment and/or therapy to medically eligible children. 

    California Code of Regulations (CCR):   Contains administrative regulations for the application of Education Code. 

    California Department of Education (CDE):  State agency responsible for educational policies and procedures required by legislation. 

    California Special Education Management Information System (CASEMIS):  An information and retrieval system in special education to collect and report on statewide mandated data fields. 

    Career and Technical Education (CTE): CTE prepares secondary, postsecondary and adult students with technical, academic and employability skills for success in the workplace and in further education. 

    Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD):  A reduced or impaired ability to discriminate, recognize or comprehend auditory information – broadly defined its “what we do with what we hear”. 

    Child Find:  The responsibility of the school district is to locate, identify, and evaluate children with disabilities in their school boundaries. 

    Chronological Age (CA):  The actual age of a student on a given day.  (e.g., Mary’s age is 7 years 4 months.) 

    Clinical Observations:  opinion about, or interpretations of behavior, made by the person assessing the student, which are based on professionals experience and expertise.  The interpretations may relate to behaviors not tested directly during the assessment—such as “fear of failure,” or “desire to please”.

    Code of Federal Regulations (CFR):  Contains administrative regulations for the application of federal laws such as IDEA. 

    Cognitive:  the act or process of knowing.  Analytical or logical thinking. 

    Cognitive Operations (Skills):  Processes involved in thinking, knowing; analytical or logical;

    1. Cognition-comprehension
    2. Memory-retention and recall of information
    3. Convergent thinking-bringing together of known facts
    4. Divergent thinking-use of knowledge in new ways
    5. Evaluation-critical thinking 

    Communicatively Handicapped (CH), Communicatively Impaired (CI):  includes students who are deaf, hard of hearing (HOH), aphasic, severely language impaired, or who have other speech and/or communication disorders. 

    Community Advisory Committee (CAC):  A committee of parents and guardians of individuals with exceptional needs, individuals with disabilities, teachers and school district personnel, agency representatives and community members who work with the

    Special Education Local Plan Area administration to develop policy and support the needs of special education students.  The CAC is also responsible to review programs under the comprehensive Local Plan. 

    Community Based Instruction (CBI):  instruction in the skills needed to function in community settings.  Instruction takes place both in the community and in the classroom. 

    Compensatory education:    services determined by the IEP Team to be necessary for a student as a result of the school district’s failure to adequately implement the child’s IEP. 

    Compliance Complaint:  An alleged violation by a public agency of any federal or state law or regulation;  typically filed with the CDE by a person who thinks that a special education law has been violated (e.g., failure to implement a service as specified in an IEP). 

    Coordination, Fine Motor:  pertains to usage of small muscle groups (writing, cutting, etc.) 

    Coordination, Gross Motor:  pertains to usage of large muscle groups (jumping, running, etc.) 

    CORE Curriculum:  The LEA-defined curriculum.  The core curriculum is the range of knowledge and skills which are included in the LEA-adopted course of study and which must be learned for successful grade promotion and graduation.  IEP goals and objectives should reflect knowledge and implementation of the LEA’s core curriculum as adapted for the student with disabilities. 

    Criterion-Referenced Testing (or measurements):  Measures individual performance compared to an acceptable standard (criterion) such as “can correctly name letters of the alphabet” – not to the performance others as in norm-referenced testing. 

    Culturally Appropriate Assessment:  assessment tools and methods which are “fair” to the student in the sense that they are given in his native language; given and interpreted with reference to the child’s age, socioeconomic, and cultural background; given by trained persons; and appropriate, even if the child had a physical, mental, speech, or sensory disability.

    Cumulative file:  General file maintained by the school; parent has right to inspect the file and have copies of any information contained in it. 

    Curriculum-Based Assessment:  Evaluation techniques for monitoring student progress in core academic areas such as reading, writing, and math. 

    Day:  Means calendar day unless otherwise indicated as school day or business day. 

    Day Treatment:  Day Treatment and Day Rehabilitation may be provided by a school-based program or by a non-public program.  Services include assessment, plan development, therapy, rehabilitation, and educationally-related services. 

    Deaf:  a student with a hearing loss so severe that it inhibits language processing and affects education performance. 

    Deaf-Blindness:  Concomitant [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 (DHH)   A hearing impairment so severe that a child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. 

    Decoding:  ability to change sounds or symbols into ideas. 

    Department of Rehabilitation (DOR):  California DOR programs help people with disabilities overcome obstacles by encouraging them to focus on their ability and training needed to empower them to become employed. 

    Designated Instructional Services (DIS):   Instruction and services necessary for the pupil to benefit from his/her instructional program.  Credentialed specialists provide services not usually part of the regular or special classroom structure.  DIS may include but not limited to:  Speech/Language, Adaptive Physical Education, Auditory, Counseling, transportation, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy.  It is a Related Service. 

    Developmental Delay:  Children from birth to age three (under Part C) and children from ages three through nine (under IDEA Part B), means a delay in one or more of the following areas:  physical development; cognitive development; communication; social or emotional development; or adaptive [behavioral] development. 

    Developmental Disability:  difference between a person’s development and behavior and the typical development and behavior expected of people of the same age.  Developmental delay is a preferable term to “mentally retarded”. 

    Differentiated Instruction:  Teaching strategy that addresses the needs of individual students rather than “one size fits all. 

    Differentiation:  a way of thinking about and planning in order to meet the diverse needs of students based on their characteristics; teachers differentiate content, process, and product according to students’ readiness, interest, and learning profiles through a range of instructional and management strategies.

    Disability:  Documented conditions that result in restricted capability to perform a function of daily life; a disability is not a handicapping condition unless the individual with a disability must function in a particular activity that is impeded by his/her limitation.

    Due Process:  In general, a course of legal proceedings according to rules and principles established for enforcement and protection of private rights.  Essential components of due process are “notice” and “a meaningful opportunity to be heard.”

    Due Process Hearing:  The formal, legal procedure guaranteed by federal law to resolve disputes relating to the education of IDEA-eligible children with disabilities to ensure that each receives a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) tailored to his/her unique needs. 

    Dyscalculia:  Individuals with this type of Learning Disability may also have poor comprehension of math symbols, may struggle with memorizing and organizing numbers, have difficulty telling time, or have trouble with counting. 

    Dysgraphia:  A person with this specific learning disability may have problems including illegible handwriting, inconsistent spacing, poor spatial planning on paper, poor spelling, and difficulty composing writing as well as thinking and writing at the same time. 

    Dyslexia: The severity of this specific learning disability can differ in each individual but can affect reading fluency, decoding, reading comprehension, recall, writing, spelling, and sometimes speech and can exist along with other related disorders. Dyslexia is sometimes referred to as a Language-Based Learning Disability. 

    Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE):  Special education and related services provided to children under age of 5. 

    Educational records:  All records about the student that are maintained by an educational agency or institution; includes instructional materials, teacher notes, cumulative records, evaluation reports and test protocols. 

    Emotional Disturbance (ED):  Because of serious emotional disturbance a student exhibits one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree, which adversely affects educational placement:

    1. An inability to learn which cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors
    2. An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.
    3. Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances; exhibited in several situations.
    4. A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.
    5. A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

    The term includes schizophrenia.  The term does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance.

    English Language Learner (ELL):  limited English proficient students acquiring English and speakers of non-mainstream language forms acquiring mainstream English.

    Evaluation/Assessment:  Collecting and bringing together of information about a student’s learning needs to determine his/her eligibility for special education and services.  This process may include standardized tests as well as informal methods such as observations, interview, review of school records and work samples.  The goal is to determine an individual’s strengths and weaknesses to plan, for his/her educational services.  “intelligence” or “achievement”; tests which have a standard set of directions for their use and interpretation.

    Extended School Year (ESY):  The term means the period of time between the close of one academic year and the beginning of the succeeding academic year.  An extended year program shall be provided for a minimum of 20 instructional days, including holidays.  Schools must provide extended year services to individuals with disabilities based on regression and recouping data.  Whether or not an individual is entitled to extended school year services is determined by the IEP team. 

    Facilitated IEP:  A facilitated IEP is an Alternative Dispute Resolution process.  A facilitated IEP is developed by a collaborative team whose members share responsibility for the meeting process and results.  Decision making is managed through the use of essential facilitation skills. 

    Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA):  A federal law that regulates the management of student records and disclosure of information from those records, with its own administrative enforcement mechanism. 

    Fine Motor Coordination:  development and control of small muscles such as those used to cut, hold a pencil, etc. 

    Focused Monitoring Technical Assistance (FMTA):  The Special Education Division of the California Department of Education assigns consultants to provide FMTA activities to their assigned counties, districts, and SELPAs.  The consultants provide information and facilitate access to technical assistance related to program monitoring and program implementation. 

    Foster Family:  Education Code 56155(b):  A family who is licensed by the state to provide for 24 hour non-medical care and supervision of not more than six foster children, including, but not limited to, individuals with exceptional needs.

    Foster Family Home (FFH):  A family residence that is licensed by the state to provide for 24 hour non-medical care and supervision of not more than six foster children, including, but not limited to students with disabilities. 

    Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE):  A special education program and/or related services(s) as determined to meet the unique needs of each child with a disability at no charge to the parent.  Such an educational program and related service(s) are based on goals and objectives as specified in an IEP and determined through the process of assessment and IEP planning in compliance with state and federal laws and regulations. 

    Functional Academics:  The application of life skills as a means for teaching academic tasks; this is the core of many instructional programs for students with more significant disabilities. 

    Functional Analysis Assessment (FAA):  An evaluation process to understand the purpose, motivation, and correlates of challenging behavior(s) in order to develop a positive and appropriate Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) instructional supports and services. 

    Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA):  A functional behavioral assessment may be conducted for any student identified as having a behavior problem serious enough to impact the learning of the child him/herself or others. 

    Functional Curriculum – Life Skills 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. 

    Goals and Objectives, IEP:  Step by step plan build into the IEP which sets specific skills the team believes the student should attain and the strategic steps to attaining those goals. 

    Grade Equivalent (GE):  The score a student obtains on an achievement test, translated into a standard score which allows the individual student’s score to be compared to the typical score for students in his or her grade level.  A ”grade equivalent” score of 6.0 means the score that the average beginning sixth grader makes; a “grade 6 equivalent” score of 6.3 means the score that the average student who has been in sixth grade for three months makes. 

    Gross-Motor Coordination:  the development and awareness of large muscle activity, coordination of large muscles in a purposeful manner such as walking or jumping. 

    Guardian ad litem:  Person appointed by the court to represent the rights of minors. 

    Health Impaired:  students who have persistent medical or health problems which adversely affect their education performance. 

    Hearing Impaired:  When a student has a hearing impairment, whether permanent or fluctuating, which impairs processing speech and language reception and discrimination through hearing, even with amplification, and which adversely affects educational performance. 

    Inclusion:  A philosophy and /or practice focused on educating each child with a disability to the maximum extent appropriate, in the school and/or classroom he or she would otherwise attend if he or she did not have a disability.  It involves bringing the support services to the child (rather than moving the child to the services). 

    Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE):  An independent evaluation of a student from a qualified person.  Parents have the right to ask for and obtain an IEE if they disagree with the results of an assessment conducted by the school district.  Any IEE must be considered at the IEP. 

    Individualized Education Plan (IEP):  a written statement, developed by the IEP team (school administrator, child’s Special Education teacher, child’s general education teacher(s), parent(s), child’s DIS professional(s), and child, which provides a practical plan for instruction and delivery of services.  The IEP is a written agreement between the parents and the school about what the child needs and what will be done to address those needs.  The IEP must be drawn up by the educational team for the child with a disability and must include the following:

    1. The student’s present levels of academic performance.
    2. Annual goals for the student.
    3. Short-term instructional objectives related to the annual goals.
    4. Special Education and related services that will be provided.
    5. The extent to which the child will not participate in regular education programs.
    6. Plans for start the services and the anticipated duration of services.
    7. Plans for evaluating, at least annually, whether the goals and objectives are being achieved.
    8. Transition planning for older students (16-22 years of age.) 

    Individualized Education Program Team (IEPT):  Parent or legal Surrogate; Student, when necessary; one general education and one special education teacher both responsible for implementing the IEP; school district representative qualified to provide/supervise provision of specialized instruction, knowledgeable about the general curriculum and the resources of the district, (CA law requires this be someone other than the child’s teacher); Person(s) who conducted assessment(s) or knowledgeable enough to explain/interpret the results; People with specific expertise or knowledge of the student.  Parent can bring a friend(s) and/or advocate. 

    Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP):  A written plan created by a multidisciplinary team, parents, guardians, surrogate parents and others charged with care and education of wards of the court to provide early intervention services to a child eligible under Part B IDEA.   The team is responsible for determining special education eligibility children from birth to 2.11 years of age.  Services are provided by the LEA or Regional Center depending on the nature of the child’s disability. 

    Individualized Transition Plan (ITP):  Plan included in a student’s IEP beginning at age 16, or 14 if appropriate, that addresses transition needs and interagency responsibilities or linkages that are needed for the student to successfully transition from school to adult life. 

    Individual Services Plan (ISP):  Plan that describes the special education and/or related services that an LEA will provide to an eligible student who is voluntarily enrolled by his/her parent(s) in a private school setting. 

    Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Part A):  Part A outlines IDEA’s general provisions, including the purpose of IDEA and the definitions used throughout the statute. 

    Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Part B):  Children and youth ages three through 21 receive special education and related services under IDEA Part B

    Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Part C): Infants and toddlers, birth through age two, with disabilities and their families receive early intervention services under IDEA Part C.  

    Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Part D): Discretionary grants under Part D to institutions of higher education and other non-profit organizations to support grants for state personnel development, technical assistance and dissemination, technology, personnel development, and parent-training and information centers. 

    Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA):  Federal legislation that mandates a free and appropriate public education to all children.  It governs the education of students with disabilities.  Originally passed in 1975 as Public Law 94-142 with later amendments in 1986, 1990, 1997, and 2004.  

    Individuals with Exceptional Needs (IWEN):  A student who has been identified as having a disability, who requires special education programs and services, and has an Individualized Education Plan. 

    Individual Transition Plan (ITP): The Individual Transition Plan (ITP) is a written plan designed to help prepare students for passage from school to post-school life. The ITP must be based on the student’s needs, preferences and interests and reflect the student’s own goals. Objectives, timeliness, and people responsible for meeting the objectives should be written into the ITP which is part of the IEP. 

    Informal Assessment:  Using procedures such as classroom observations, interviewing, or teacher-made tests which have not usually been tried out with large groups of people, and which do not necessarily have a standard set of instructions for their use and interpretation. 

    Informed Consent:  In accordance with 34 Code of Federal Regulations and Education Code, informed consent occurs when:

    (1) The parent has been fully informed of all information relevant to the activity for which   consent is sought, in his/her primary language or other mode of communications;

    (2) The parent understands that their consent is voluntary on their part and they may withdraw their consent at any time. 

    Intellectual Disability:  Significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Previously known as Mental Retardation. 

    Intelligence Test:  a standardized  series of questions and/or tasks designed to measure mental abilities – how a person thinks, reasons, solves problems, remembers and learns new information.  Many intelligence tests rely heavily on the use or understanding of spoken language. 

    Intelligent quotient:  A standard score derived from psychological testing typically used to describe cognitive ability. 

    Interim Placement:  placement of a student in a Special Education program or service comparable to one he/she  attended in the last school of residence.  If student enrolled from outside the new SELPA, an IEP meeting must be held within 30 days to develop new goals and objectives or recommend a different setting.

    Interpreter:  A professional who signs, gestures, and/or fingerspells a speaker’s message as it is spoken to enable individuals who are hearing impaired to understand spoken language, and who speaks for a person using sign language to be heard. 

    Intervention:  An action taken to correct, remediate, or prevent identified or potential educational, medical, or developmental problems. 

    Language, Expressive:  Includes the skills involved in communicating one’s thoughts by speaking and writing. 

    Language, Receptive:  Includes the skills involved in listening and reading. 

    Least Restrictive Environment (LRE):  The concept that each child with a disability is to be provided opportunities to be educated with non-disabled peers and in a setting which promotes interaction with the general school population and classmates who are typically developing to the maximum extent appropriate to the needs of both.  LRE is determined by the IEP team on an individual student basis. 

    Licensed Children’s Institution (LCI) A facility of any capacity which provides 24 hour non-medical care and supervision to children in a structured environment, with these services provided at in part by staff employed by the licensed agency. 

    Local Educational Agency (LEA):  A school district, SELPA approved LEA charter school or county office of education that provides education services. 

    Local Plan:  each Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) develops a plan for delivery of programs and services to meet the educational needs of all eligible students with exceptional needs in that area. 

    Long-Range Goals:  Global and general “aims statements” which describe what needs to be learned by the student. 

    Low Incidence Disability:  A severe disability with an expected incidence rate of less than 1 percent of the total K-12 statewide enrollment; includes hearing impairments, visual impairments, severe orthopedic impairments or a combination thereof. 

    Mainstreaming:  Refers to the selective placement of students with disabilities in one or more general education classes and or extra-curricular activities. 

    Manifestation Determination:  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 right to a due process hearing; must be conducted by a qualified and impartial mediator who is trained in effective mediation techniques. 

    Medical Services:  Related service; includes service3s provided by a licensed physician to determine a child’s medically related disability that results in the child’s need for special education and related services. 

    Medical Therapy Unit (MTU):  Space provided by LEAs for the provision of medically necessary occupational and physical therapy provided by California Children’s Services therapists. 

    Modality:  A way of acquiring sensation; visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic, olfactory, and gustatory are the common sense modalities. 

    Modification:  Students with significant special needs also have the opportunity to take courses in a modified form, if recommended by the IEP team and with parent notification and consent.  A modification is an adjustment to an assignment or test that changes the standard or what the test or assignment is supposed to measure. 

    Multidisciplinary Team (MDT):  a group including parents and professionals with different areas of expertise who come together for the purpose of looking at an individual child’s educational program. 

    Multi-Handicapped:  This is a combination of impairments (such as an intellectual disability-blindness, intellectual disability-orthopedic impairment, etc.) 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. 

    Multi-Tiered Systems of Support:  MTSS is defined as a coherent continuum of evidence based, system-wide practices to support a rapid response to academic and behavioral needs, with frequent data-based monitoring of instructional decision-making to empower each student to achieve high standards. 

    Neurological Examination:  tests to determine disease of, or damage to, the nervous system.

    Non-Discriminatory Assessment:  Assessment tools and methods which are “fair” to the student in the sense that they are given in the child’s native language; given and interpreted with reference to the child’s age and socioeconomic and cultural background; given by trained persons; appropriate even if the child has a physical, mental, speech, or sensory disability.  Because some tests used in school often do discriminate against certain students (e.g. by asking questions that relate to the experiences of white, middle-class, English-speaking persons), the term culturally appropriate assessment has come into use to emphasize that assessment must be fair to students of other language and cultural backgrounds. 

    Non-Public Agency (NPA):  A private, nonsectarian establishment certified by the CDE that provides contracted, related services to students with disabilities. 

    Non-Public School (NPS):  A private, nonsectarian school which is certified by CDE for the purpose of contracting with public schools for the instruction of pupils with disabilities. 

    Norms:  Information, provided by the test-maker, about “normal” or typical performance on the test.  Individual test scores can be compared to the typical score made by other persons in the same age group or grade level.Occupational Therapy (OT):  Treatment provided by a therapist trained in helping a student develop daily living skills (e.g. handwriting, self-care, prevocational skills, etc.) 

    Occupational Therapy Assistant –California (COTA):  a person who has completed a program approved and certified by the American Occupational Therapy Association Certification Board.  They provide occupational therapy (OT) services under the supervision of a registered OT. 

    Office for Civil Rights (OCR).  Agency that ensures equal opportunity and accessibility for users of programs and services that receive federal funding. 

    Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH):  OAH contracts with the California Department of Education (CDE) to handle special education due process hearings and mediations when there is a dispute between school districts and parents. 

    Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) – An agency of the federal government’s executive branch within the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). 

    Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP):  Under the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) in the U.S. Department of Education.  OSEP focuses on the free appropriate public education of children and youth with disabilities from birth through age 21. 

    Orientation and Mobility:  Services provided by qualified personnel to teach students with a visual impairment systematic techniques for planning route and movements from place to place in the school, home, and/or community 

    Orthopedically Handicapped (OH) or Orthopedically Impaired (OI):  physical impairments resulting from disease, conditions such as cerebral palsy, or from amputations or birth defects which are so severe as to interfere with the student’s educational performance. 

    Other Health Impairment (OHI):  OHI is due to chronic or acute health problem such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette syndrome that adversely affects a student’s educational performance. 

    Parent:  The natural, adoptive, foster parent; guardian or individual acting in place of a natural or adoptive parent with whom the child lives and holds the Educational Rights of the student. 

    Perceptual-Motor Test:  a test that requires the person to use his/her skill in receiving and interpreting sensory information for tasks that require actions such as drawing a line between two given lines copying a circle, etc. 

    Perseveration:  difficulty in shifting from one task to another; is frequently used to describe an activity, phrase or word that is repeated over and over. 

    Phonetics:  study of all the speech sounds in the language and how these sounds are produced. 

    Phonics:  use of phonetics in the teaching of reading; relates the sound (phoneme) of the language with the equivalent written symbol. 

    Phonology:  The study of speech sounds and the rules governing how they are combined to convey meaning. 

    Physical Therapy (PT):  treatment of disorders of bones, joints, muscles under the direction of a physician’s orders. 

    Positive Behavior Supports, Positive Behavior Support Plan (PBSP):  support that is specified in a behavior plan that is developed by the IEP team to help a student who has serious behavior problems to change undesirable behavior that interfere with learning.  The PBSP relies on data obtained from a functional analysis assessment. 

    Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLOP):  A statement in the IEP of the student’s current baseline of strengths and needs as measured by formal and informal evaluations.

    Prior written notice:  Required written notice to parents when school proposes to initiate or change, or refuses to initiate or change, the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the student. 

    Procedural Safeguards and Referral Services (PSRS):  An office of the California Department of Education (CDE) that provides technical assistance and resources about procedural safeguards and educational rights of students with disabilities, from ages 3 up to 22nd birthday.  Compliance Complaints are filed here. 

    Procedural safeguards notice:  School districts are required to provide parents, on a yearly basis, an easy to understand explanation of procedural safeguards that describe special education rights regarding the special education of students who are either identified with a disability or suspected as having a disability. 

    Progress monitoring:  A scientifically based practice used to assess students’ academic performance and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction; can be implemented with individual students or an entire class. 

    Psychomotor:  refers to muscle responses including development of fine-motor small muscles (cutting, etc.) and large muscles (walking, jumping, etc.) 

    Psychological services:  Related service; includes administering psychological and educational tests, interpreting test results, interpreting child behavior related to learning. 

    Public Law (P.L.) 94-142:  The Education for All Handicapped Children Act; enacted into law in 1975. 

    Reasonable accommodations:  Reasonable accommodations are modifications or adjustments to the tasks, environment or to the way things are usually done that enable individuals with disabilities to have an equal opportunity to participate in an academic program or a job (U.S. Department of Education, 2007). 

    Receptive Language:  Includes the skills involved in listening and reading. 

    Re-evaluation:  a comprehensive assessment conducted every three years or sooner if a parent or teacher requests, for each student receiving Special Education. 

    Referral:  A written request for evaluation or eligibility for special education and related services. 

    Regional Centers:  21 California private, non-profit organizations under contract with the California Department of Developmental Services.  They are responsible for the coordination and development of services to meet the needs of people with developmental disabilities.  Lanterman, Pomona Valley and East Los Angeles Regional Center’s serve students in PUSD. 

    Regional Occupation Program (ROP):  State-funded public education, providing career technical education and guidance to meet identified educational standards and industry needs.  Career technical education and sequential learning designed to improve academic skills.  A course of study that combines classroom instruction with hands-on learning. 

    Rehabilitation Act of 1973:  Civil rights statute designed to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination; purposes are to maximize employment, economic self-sufficiency, independence, inclusion and integration into society. 

    Related Services:  Related Services are developmental, corrective, and other services required to assist a student with a disability to benefit from special education. Examples of special education related services are: counseling, early identification and assessment, class size, instruction in academic or perceptual areas, extended school year, orientation and mobility services, parent counseling and training, physical education, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, rehabilitation counseling, school health services, social work services, vocational education,) and supplementary aids and services (instructional aides, note takers, use of the resource room, etc.) to be provided by Special education. 

    Remediation:  Process by which an individual receives instruction and practice in skills that are weak or nonexistent in an effort to develop/strengthen these skills. 

    Residential Treatment Center (RTC):  The Multi Disciplinary IEP team has the ability to determine that a student’s needs are so severe that a live-in Residential Treatment Center is required to meet that student’s needs.  

    Resource Specialist Program (RSP):  A Special Education setting including a credentialed teacher (and frequently  an instructional aide), who provide instruction and services to Special Education students, consultation and materials to regular education teachers and parents and coordination of  Special Education services with regular school programs for Special Education students.  Students are placed in a RSP by the IEP team for less than 50% of their day. 

    Resource Specialist Teacher (RST):  a credentialed teacher with advanced training in Special Education.  The RST provides educational assessment of students, does individual and small group instruction, develops instructional materials and teaching techniques for the classroom teacher, assesses pupil progress, and coordinates recommendations in the student’s IEP with parents and teachers. 

    Response to Instruction and Intervention (RtI2):  general education process to help students who are struggling using scientific, research based strategies for instruction and intervention. 

    School day:  A day when children attend school for instructional purposes. 

    School Psychologist:  a person trained to give psychological tests, interpret results, and suggest appropriate educational approaches to students with learning and/or behavioral problems. 

    Scientifically based:  A requirement in NCLB and IDEA 2004 that intervention to the greatest extend possible employs systematic methods of data analysis that are accepted by peer-reviewed journals or approved by a panel of independent experts. 

    Screening:  the process of administering global methods to determine if the child has a suspected disability and whether the child shave have evaluations to determine if he/she qualifies for special education services and/or related services. 

    Section 504:  The Section 504 regulations require a school district to provide a “Free Appropriate Public Education” to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district’s jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Under Section 504, FAPE consists of the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student’s individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of non-disabled students are met. 

    Sensory Processing (“sensory integration” or SI):  refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavior responses. 

    Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), “sensory integration dysfunction”):  exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses. 

    Severely Handicapped (SH);  Students requiring intensive instruction and training in programs serving students with disabilities such as autism, blindness, deafness, severe orthopedic impairments, serious emotional disturbance, severe intellectual disabilities and those with multiple disabilities. 

    Short-term Objective:  included on some students IEPs ( those taking the CAPA) as a means of measuring progress toward a goal.  It includes a series of intermediate steps or training activities designed to take the student from his or her current level of functioning to progress on annual goals. 

    Special Day Class (SDC):  Program for students with disabilities with similar and more intensive  educational needs.  SDCs most commonly serve students whose needs cannot be met even with accommodations, modifications, and Special Education supports in the general education setting.  Students are placed in this program by the IEP team for more than 50% of their day.  Also called Self Contained Classroom (SCC). 

    Special Education (SE):  Specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of individuals with exceptional needs, whose educational needs cannot be met with modification of the regular instruction program and related services that may be needed to assist these pupils to benefit from specially designed instruction. 

    Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA):  In 1977 all school districts and county school offices were required to join to form geographical regions of sufficient size and scope to provide for all the special education service needs of children residing within the region boundaries.  Each SELPA develops a local plan describing how it provides special education services.

    Specialized Academic Instruction (SAI):  SAl is a way of delivering instructional services to students with disabilities (SWDs).   SAl is:  1. An instructional delivery model, NOT a program 2. Used to describe instructional services on the Individualized Education Program (IEP). 

    Specific Learning Disability (SLD):  IDEA disability category.  A disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written language;  may manifest in difficulties with listening, thinking, speaking, reading, writing, spelling, and doing mathematical calculations; minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia and developmental aphasia.  The term does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities; intellectual disability, emotional disturbance; or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage. 

    Speech Language Pathologist Assistant (SLPA):  Speech-language pathology assistants are support personnel who, following academic and/or on-the-job training, perform tasks prescribed, directed, and supervised by ASHA-certified speech-language pathologists. 

    Speech Language Therapy:  Remediation provided by a Speech/Language Specialist to facilitate language development, both receptively and expressively or to correct faulty speech patterns, like stuttering or voice problems. 

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

    Speech Pathologist or Speech Therapist:  persons trained to provide analysis, diagnosis, and therapy for speech and language disturbances. 

    Standardized Achievement Test:  a test designed to measure facts and information a student has learned in school.  Some achievement tests are given to one person at a time and are called Individual Achievement Tests; others (Group Tests) may be given to several students at once. 

    State Educational Agency (SEA):  California Department of Education. 

    Statutory law:  Written law enacted by legislative bodies. 

    Statutory rights:  Rights protected by statute, as opposed to constitutional rights that are protected by the Constitution. 

    Stay put:  This commonly refers to the student remaining in his/her current educational setting while the Due Process Hearing/Complaint is being resolved. 

    Student Study Team/Student Success Team (SST):  A team of school site personnel and the parent who work together to generate possible solutions for students who are experiencing difficulties within the regular education setting.  It meets to consider a student’s strengths and needs and to design a plan to help the student improve or resolve the problems he/she was experiencing. 

    Students with disabilities (SWD).


    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 students to the maximum extent appropriate. 

    Surrogate Parent:  a person who is appointed by the LEA or SELPA to act as a child’s parent in all matters related to Special Education.  A surrogate is appointed when a child is a dependent or ward of the court and the court has limited the rights of the parent/guardian to make educational decisions or when a parent cannot be identified or locate. 

    Syndrome:  A group of related symptoms, which characterize a disease or disorder. 

    Syntax:  How words are put together in a sentence to convey meaning. 

    Test of Auditory Perception:  a test that tells how well a student perceives or hears specific sounds. 

    Test of Visual Acuity:  an eye examination which tells how well a child can see and recognize symbols in comparison to other children. 

    Transition Program:  Districts have responsibilities under the IDEA in the area of transition planning and services which must be fulfilled prior to exiting a student from high school. Three main components of transition are: instruction, community experience and the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives. 

    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:  An acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.  The term applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech.  The term does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital, brain injuries induced by birth trauma. 

    Twice-exceptional:  Children who are gifted with above average abilities who have special educational needs - AD/HD, learning disabilities, Aspberger Syndrome, etc. Because their giftedness can mask their special needs and their special needs can hide their giftedness, they are often labeled as "lazy" and "unmotivated". 

    U.S.C.: United States Code. 

    Validity:  the extent to which a test really measures what  it is intended to measure. 

    Visual Discrimination:  Ability to detect differences in objects, form, letters or words. 

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

    Visual Motor:  The ability to coordinate vision with body movements. 

    Visual Perception:  the identification, organization, and interpretation of data received  through the eye. 

    Vocational Aptitude (or interest) Test:  a test designed to give an indication of a person’s potential to succeed in a particular job or career.  The test is usually a questionnaire which asks the individual to describe his/her own characteristics and preferences. 

    Vocational Services:  Organized educational programs which are directly related to 

    Word Attack Skills:  the ability to analyze words. 

    This information was taken from the following sources:  ABCs for Life Success, California Department of Education, Fremont Unified School District, Learning Disabilities Association of America, National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) is now found at Center for Parent Information and Resources, Pasadena Unified School District and Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation.