Special Education Terms

Special Education Terms

504 Plan: A plan developed to ensure that students with disabilities receive the accommodations they need to succeed in the regular classroom

Accommodations: Alterations that enable a student to work around a disability, without a change in the curriculum (e.g. giving answers orally instead of in writing

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

Alternate Assessment: Ohio’s Alternate Assessment for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities (AASCD) is aligned to Ohio’s Learning Standards–Extended (OLS-E) and designed to allow students with significant cognitive disabilities to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in an appropriately rigorous assessment. The AASCD will be administered by grade level. Students in grades 3, 4, 6 and 7 will be assessed in English language arts and mathematics. Students in grades 5 and 8 will be assessed in English language arts, mathematics, and science. Students taking the HS-AASCD will be assessed in English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. 

Annual Review: Yearly meeting of an IEP team to assess a student's needs and progress

Antecedent Behavioral Consequences Chart (ABC): A tool used to create a record of disruptive behaviors that is utilized as part of functional behavior 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. 

Assistive Technology: Technology devices used to help students perform tasks that would otherwise be difficulty or impossible for them.

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. 

Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP): A plan specifically targeting one to three of a student's undesirable or disruptive classroom behaviors

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. 

Early Intervention (EI): Services for at-risk children from birth to their third birthdays, as mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE): The right to equal educational opportunities

Functional Behavioral Assessment (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. 

Individualized Educational Program (IEP): A document that defines the special education services to be delivered to a students who qualify, as defined by IDEA ( There are 13 categories of disabilities that make students eligible for an IEP)

IEP Team: The group of individuals who meets to discuss and make decisions on a students IEP. An IEP team usually includes parents, teachers, counselors, and other special education staff. 

Inclusion: The opportunity for students with disabilities to learn alongside their non-disabled peers in general education classrooms

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): In 2004, Congress reauthorized IDEA and renamed it IDEIA.

Intelligence Quotient (IQ): The score derived from cognitive (intelligence) testing

Interventions: Instructional methods designed to target a student's educational needs

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): A requirement stating that, as much as possible, students with disabilities must be taught in the same setting as students without disabilities. 

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

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. 

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

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. 

Post Secondary Transition: Federal law outlines that all students with disabilities must have a transition plan in place by their 16th birthday, however, Ohio law states this must take place by the time the student is 14 or earlier if agreed upon by the IEP team. The postsecondary plan is designed to identify goals and services that reflect the students Age Appropriate Transition Assessment (AATA) for that student. The IEP team will identify the preferences, interests, needs, and strengths of the student and construct a plan outlining what services are necessary for postsecondary transition in the areas of Education, Employment, and Independent Living Skills (if determined appropriate by the IEP team).  

Present Levels: A component of an Individualized Education Plan (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). 

Resource Teacher/ Intervention Specialist: A special education teacher who helps students with learning difficulties
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. 

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