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Do You Speak the Special Education Language

Special Education Acronyms and Terms

As a parent have you ever wondered why the educators and others on the team speak using so many acronyms. You also may wonder what do all of these acronyms mean? We do this because to say “individualized education program” over and over is much more cumbersome than IEP. And let’s face it, acronyms exist for this sole reason. IEP stands for Individualized Education Program. Note: on the IDEA website, they use Program, not Plan. some sites, will say Plan. Plan and Program are often used interchangeably. I hope these brief explanations on this list offer some clarity and understanding.


List of Special Education Acronyms

ABA Applied Behavior Analysis

AEDY Alternative Education for Disruptive

APS Approved Private School

ASD Autism Spectrum Disorder (one of the disability classifications on an IEP)

AT/AAC Assistive Technology/Augmented Communication

BCBA Board Certified Behavior Analyst

BIP/PSP/PBSP Behavior Improvement Plan/Positive Support Plan

BASC Behavior Assessment System for Children

DIBELS Dynamic Indicator of Basic Early Literacy Skills, an early reading assessment.

ED Emotionally Disturbed or EBD Emotional Behavior Disorder

EI Early Intervention

ELL/ESL English Language Learner/Second Language

ER Evaluation Report. Your child only ever receives one ER report. Everything after the first one is an RR Reevaluation Report

ESY Extended School Year

FAPE Free and Appropriate Education

FBA Functional Behavior Assessment

FERPA Federal Education Records Privacy Act

IEP Individualized Education Plan

IFSP Individual Family Service Plan

HH Hard of Hearing

LEA Local Education Agency

LRE Least Restrictive Environment

MA Medical Assistance, Medicaid

OCR Office of Civil Rights

OHI Other Health Impaired (one of the disability classifications on an IEP) ADHD falls under this category.

O & M Orientation and Mobility

OT Occupational Therapy/Therapist (fine motor skills)

PLOP Present Levels of Performance or PLAAFP Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance

PT Physical Therapy/Therapist (work on gross motor skills)

PTE Permission to Evaluate

RTI/MDSS Response to Intervention or Multi-Disciplinary Supports Services, RTI is NOT special education.

SD School District

SDI Specially Designed Instruction

SLD Specific Learning Disability

SLP Speech Language Pathologist

TVI Teacher of the Visually Impaired


Glossary of Terms

Accommodation: A change in curriculum or instruction that does not substantially modify the requirements of the class or alter the content standards or benchmarks.

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

Administrative Law Judges (ALJs): Judges who to conduct Due Process Hearings in a manner similar to civil court trials. They are neutral factfinders, fully independent of the agencies whose attorneys appear before them.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR): Alternative opportunities for parties to resolve disputes collaboratively and avoid litigation, typically through negotiation, mediation, or arbitration.

Assessment: Any systematic method of obtaining information from tests and other sources; used to draw inferences about characteristics of people, objects, or programs. An initial evaluation (or periodic re-evaluation) to determine whether a scholar is a scholar with a disability and to determine the educational needs of this scholar.

Assistive Technology (AT) Device: Any piece of equipment used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of scholars with disabilities.

Assistive Technology (AT) Service: Any service that directly assists an eligible individual in selecting, acquiring, or using an assistive technology device.

Compliance Complaint: A formal assertion in writing that agreed upon services and supports in an IEP have not been delivered, or that the school district has violated IDEA mandates.

Curriculum: The subject matter that is to be learned, usually described in terms of scope and sequence.

Curriculum-based Assessment: A methodology in special education in which a scholar’s progress in the curriculum is measured at frequent intervals.

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 scholars with disabilities to ensure that each receives a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) tailored to his/her unique needs.

Extended School Day: A provision for a special education scholar to receive instruction for a period longer than the standard school day.

Extended School Year (ESY): A provision for a special education scholar to receive instruction during ordinary school vacation periods.

Facilitated IEP: A group leadership process in which a trained individual helps keep the IEP discussion focused on your scholar and the education issues.

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

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE): Special education and related services are provided to scholars with disabilities at public expense and under public supervision and direction at no cost to the scholar’s parents.

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 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: A written component of an IEP: skills the scholar is expected to reasonably achieve in one year maximum (reviewed and re-evaluated by the IEP team at least annually).

Inclusion [or] Inclusive Education: A belief that every scholar is entitled to an instructional program that meets his or her individual needs and learning characteristics; a commitment to build and maintain an assured sense of belonging for all scholars, regardless of strengths or challenges.

Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE): An independent evaluation of a scholar 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.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Federal law that entitles scholars with disabilities to special education services.

Individualized Education Program (IEP): The annually written record of an eligible scholar’s special education and related services, describing the unique educational needs of the scholar and the manner in which those educational needs will be met.

IEP Meeting: A gathering required at least annually under IDEA in which an IEP developed for a scholar receiving special education.

IEP Team (Minimum Required Members): Parent or legal Surrogate; Scholar, 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. (GA law requires this be someone other than the scholar’s teacher); Person(s) who conducted assessment(s) or knowledgeable enough to explain/interpret the results; People with specific expertise or knowledge of the scholar. (Optional: Attorneys or advocates)

Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP): A written plan for providing early intervention services to an eligible scholar with a disability (from birth to 3rd birthday) and to the child’s family.

Insufficient: Not meeting the legal requirement of IDEA by failing to provide the necessary detailed information and evidence to support a Due Process Complaint.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): A federal mandate stipulating that, to the maximum extent possible, scholars with disabilities be educated with their peers without disabilities.

Local Education Area (LEA): A school district.

Mainstreaming: This lay term doesn’t appear in law. It refers to IDEA’s preference for the education of every scholar in the least restrictive environment (LRE); most widely refers to placement of scholars with disabilities in general education, rather than separate, classrooms.

Mediation (Mediation-Only): A voluntary alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process that may be requested PRIOR to filing a Due Process Complaint. It is not a prerequisite to filing.

Mediation (Formal Due Process): A voluntary alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process that may occur AFTER a Due Process Complaint is filed.

Department of Education (DOE) provides mediators.

Modification: A change in curriculum or instruction that substantially alters the requirements of the class or its content standards or benchmarks.

Office for Civil Rights (OCR): An agency of the federal government’s executive branch within the Department of Education that is charged with enforcing a number of civil rights statutes.

Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO): An office within the GA Dept. of Education to advise the State Superintendent of Public Education, GADOE staff, and the State Board of Education on legal matters to ensure equal, fair, and meaningful access to its employment and program services.

Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP): An office within OSERS (see below) charged with assuring that the various states comply with IDEA.

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

Placement: The unique combination of facilities, personnel, location or equipment necessary to provide instructional services to meet the goals as specified in the scholar’s IEP. Placement is a set of services, not a location.

Prior Written Notice (PWN): A notice supplied to the other party that includes a description of the action proposed or refused by the school district or by the parent.

Resolution Meeting: A meeting mandated in IDEA 2004 as part of the Due Process Complaint process where parties attempt to resolve a dispute prior to proceeding to a Due Process Hearing.

Special Education (SPED): Specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of an eligible scholar, including the specially designed instruction conducted in schools, in the home, in hospitals and institutions, and in other settings. Special education provides a continuum of services in order to provide for the education needs of each eligible scholar regardless of the nature or severity of the educational needs.

Stay Put: The ruling that permits a scholar to remain in their current placement during any dispute concerning special education services.

Transition Plan: A plan to coordinate a set of activities that promote movement from school to post- school education, vocational training, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation. Transition goals are determined by the IEP team beginning at least by age 16 and are based on scholar and family vision, preferences, and interests.



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