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SPED Glossary

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Special Education Glossary

Access to the General Curriculum
Under IDEA, students with disabilities must have the opportunity to learn and be assessed on the same curriculum as that provided to students without disabilities.

Practices and procedures in the areas of presentation, response, setting, and timing/scheduling that provide equitable access during instruction and assessments for students with disabilities without altering the curriculum content.

Adapted Physical Education (APE)
A physical education (PE) program developed for students with disabilities who are not able to participate in the regular PE program with accommodations or modifications.

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
A civil rights law that protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination and calls for the elimination of barriers in the workplace, schools and other settings.

ARD Committee (Admission, Review and Dismissal)
In Texas, the name for the IEP Team, which includes:

  • The student’s parents
  • At least one general education teacher
  • At least one special education teacher/provider
  • A district representative
  • An individual who can interpret the instruction implications of evaluation results
  • Anyone else with special knowledge or expertise at the discretion of parents or the school district
  • When appropriate, the student

Assistive Technology
Any item, piece of equipment, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability.

Common examples of assistive technology include, but are not limited to, computer keyboards with large keys, communication boards, electronic communication devices, and books on tape. The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of that device.

Autism Supplement
The Texas Administrative Code (TAC 89.1055(e)) list of 11 strategies that must be considered when developing a student with autism’s IEP.

Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)
A written plan to address behavioral concerns impeding the child’s learning or that of others. It is part of a student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that includes positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies to address the behavior.

Child Find
IDEA requires the State have procedures and policies to ensure that all children with disabilities residing in Texas, and who are in need of special education and related services, are identified, located and evaluated by school districts. This includes children in private school or being homeschooled.

Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (DAEP)
Established under the Safe Schools Act to serve students who have committed disciplinary offenses. A DAEP provides for the educational and behavioral needs of students in a setting other than a student’s regular classroom, either on or off-campus.

Due Process Complaint
A written complaint filed by a parent or a school district involving any matter relating to the identification, evaluation, educational placement or provision of a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to a student with a disability. Due process complaints must be filed within one year of the matter in dispute.

Early Childhood Intervention (ECI)
Programs and services provided to infants and toddlers with a disability or developmental delays from birth through age two, administered under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In Texas, the Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for administering ECI. Click here for more information.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
The 2015 update to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). It was originally passed in 1965 as a part of the “War on Poverty,” which emphasized equal access to education and established high standards and accountability. The law authorized federally funded education programs to be administered by the states.

Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA)
The federal law that protects the confidentiality of a student’s records in all public schools and local education agencies.

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)
An educational right of children with disabilities in the United States that is guaranteed by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

FAPE gaurantees the following:

  • (Free) All eligible students with disabilities will be educated at the public’s expense, except for incidental fees incurred by all students;
  • (Appropriate) An education that is individualized to meet the student’s needs, as outlined in his or her IEP;
  • (Public) Students with disabilities have the right to be educated in the public school system, under supervision of the public; and
  • (Education) As with all students, a child with disabilities will receive an education that prepares him or her for future education, employment and independent living.

Full and Individual Evaluation (FIE)
An evaluation that is performed, at no cost to a parent, to determine whether a student has a disability, and to identify all the special education or related service needs of a student. The evaluation is not a single test and should cover all areas of suspected disability.

Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)
A problem-solving process for addressing student problem behavior that uses techniques to identify what triggers a given behavior(s) and to select interventions that directly address them.

Functional Skills
Other needs of a student caused by the disability that affects their ability to learn. These may include skills needed for independent living, socialization, communication, etc.

Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)
An evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the LEA responsible for the education of the child being evaluated. A parent has a right to request an IEE, at public expense, when the parent disagrees with an evaluation conducted or obtained by the LEA. The IEE must meet the same criteria the LEA uses for its own evaluations.

The LEA does not have to pay for the IEE if it can show at a due process hearing that the LEA’s evaluation is appropriate or if it can show that the IEE does not meet the LEA’s criteria. The parent always has the right to get an IEE at the parent’s expense.

Regardless of who pays for it, the ARD committee must consider any IEE that meets its criteria.

Individualized Education Program (IEP)
A written statement for each child with a disability that is developed, reviewed and revised by the ARD Committee. It includes the child’s unique needs, educational and functional goals developed to meet those needs and the aids and services required to attain those goals. For a more in-depth look at the contents of the IEP, click here.

Interim Alternative Educational Setting (IAES)
A child with a disability may be moved to another setting for not more than 45 school days, regardless of his or her disability, when the student commits certain offenses at school, on school premises, or at a school function. These include:

  • carrying or possessing a weapon;
  • knowingly possessing or using illegal drugs, or selling or soliciting the sale of a controlled substance; and
  • inflicting serious bodily injury upon another person.

The ARD Committee decides where the setting will be. Students in an IAES continue to have access to the general curriculum and receive educational supports and related services necessary to meet the goals of their IEP.

Additional instruction, teaching strategies, and techniques that enable a struggling student to improve his or her:

  • academic performance in the area that he or she is having learning difficulties, and/or
  • behavior(s) that are preventing him or her from accessing the curriculum.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
The IDEA requires that, to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, be educated with children who are not disabled, and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occur only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

Local Education Agency (LEA)
A public board of education, or other public authority, legally constituted within a State for either administrative control or direction of, or to perform a service function for, public elementary schools or secondary schools in a city, county, township, school district, or other political subdivision of a State, or for such combination of school districts or counties as are recognized in a State as an administrative agency for its public elementary schools or secondary schools.

Manifestation Determination Review (MDR)
Within ten school days of any decision to change the placement of a child with a disability, due to a violation of the code of conduct, the IEP team must meet and conduct a Manifestation Determination Review (MDR). When conducting an MDR, the team must review all relevant information in the child’s file, including the IEP, any teacher observations, and any relevant information provided by the parents to determine:

  • if the conduct was caused by, or directly related to, the child’s disability, or
  • if the conduct was the direct result of the local education agency’s failure to implement the IEP. If so, the IEP team must complete a Functional Behavioral Assessment and develop or revise a Behavioral Intervention Plan to address the conduct.

Measurable Annual Goals
IEP goals that a student can reasonably accomplish within a year. The goals should be specific, measurable, action-oriented, relevant and time-bound.

Adaptations in a child’s IEP developed to meet the child’s unique needs that involve a change in the curriculum taught or a lowering of performance expectations of the child with regard to the curriculum.

Children who receive a modified curriculum can still access the general education curriculum in a general education classroom, if appropriate.

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB)
Earlier reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) designed to hold schools accountable for the performance of students who are struggling to learn. It is based on the premise that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals can improve individual outcomes in education.

Parent Training and Information (PTI) Centers
Nonprofit organizations funded by OSEP to carry out programs to ensure that parents of children with disabilities receive training and information to help improve results for their children. In Texas, you can find your local PTI Center through the Partners Resource Network.

Personal Graduation Plan
Texas state law requires a school principal to designate a guidance counselor, teacher, or other appropriate individual to develop and implement a personal graduation plan for each student in junior high, middle school, or high school who does not perform satisfactorily on the statewide assessment, or who is not likely to receive a high school diploma before the fifth school year following the student’s enrollment in grade 9 (as determined by the district).

Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS)
An approach to school discipline practices that addresses challenging behaviors through prevention-based interventions and positive behavior strategies that are not harmful or demeaning to the student.

Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP)
A statement in the IEP detailing the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, including how the child’s disability affects his or her involvement and progress in the general education curriculum. The statement must include:

  • the child’s competencies, including strengths and weaknesses;
  • measurable data;
  • the concerns of the parents for enhancing the education of their child;
  • the results of the initial evaluation or most recent evaluation of the child; and
  • the academic, developmental, and functional needs of the child.

PLAAFPs should be comprehensive and always written first when developing an IEP, as it will drive the creation of measurable goals, accommodations/modifications, and placement/LRE. It should include a combination of qualitative and quantitative data - including, but not limited to, observations, benchmarks, progress monitoring data, standardized tests, and evaluations.

For preschool children, the statement must describe how the disability affects the child’s participation in age appropriate activities.For children with disabilities who take alternate assessments aligned to alternate achievement standards, the statement must include a description of benchmarks or short-term objectives.

For more information about comprehensive PLAAFPs, visit Texas Project FIRST.

Prior Written Notice
Must be given (in writing) to the parents of the child whenever the local educational agency (LEA) proposes to initiate or change, or refuses to initiate or change, the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the child, or the provision of a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to the child.

The school must include in the prior written notice:

  • a description of the actions the school proposes or refuses to take;
  • an explanation of why the school is proposing or refusing the action;
  • a description of each evaluation procedure, assessment, record, or report the school used in deciding to propose or refuse the action;
  • a statement that you have protections under the procedural safeguards of IDEA;
  • an explanation of how to get a copy of this Notice of Procedural Safeguards;
  • contact information for individuals or organizations that can help you in understanding IDEA;
  • a description of other choices that your child’s ARD committee considered and the reasons why those choices were rejected; and
  • a description of other reasons why the school proposes or refuses the action.

The school must give you prior written notice at least five school days before it proposes or refuses the action unless you agree to a shorter timeframe. The notice must be written in language understandable to the general public and must be translated into your native language or other mode of communication, unless it clearly is not feasible to do so.

Procedural Safeguards
A document that explains the parent’s legal rights, under state and federal law, to be involved in and make decisions about their child’s education. The document is often referred to as the “Notice of Procedural Safeguards” or “Procedural Safeguards Notice,” because its purpose is to notify parents of their legal rights.

The Procedural Safeguards must be provided to parents, at a minimum, one time per year, or upon:

  • initial referral or parental request for evaluation;
  • receipt of the first special education complaint filed with TEA;
  • receipt of the first due process hearing complaint in a school year;
  • a decision being made to take disciplinary action that constitutes a change in placement; or
  • request by a parent.

To read the lastest version of Texas’ Procedural Safegaurds, click here.

Related Services
Transportation, and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as may be required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education, and includes the early identification and assessment of disabling conditions in children. Related services include, but are not limited to:

  • speech-language pathology and audiology services;
  • interpreting services;
  • psychological services;
  • physical and occupational therapy;
  • recreation, including therapeutic recreation;
  • social work services;
  • school nurse services designed to enable a child with a disability to receive a free and appropriate public education as described in the individualized education program (IEP) of the child;
  • counseling services, including rehabilitation counseling, orientation and mobility services; and
  • medical services, except that such medical services shall be for diagnostic and evaluation purposes only. The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of such device.

Response-to-Intervention (RtI)
An early intervention model for addressing the learning needs of all students through a continuum of services, which provide:

  • high quality instruction and scientific, research-based, tiered intervention strategies aligned with individual student need;
  • frequent monitoring of student progress to make results-based academic or behavioral decisions; and
  • data-based school improvement.

The use of physical force or a mechanical device to significantly restrict the free movement of all or a portion of a child’s body. There is currently no federal law governing the use of restraint on children with disabilities. For a state-by-state summary of the laws on restraint click here.

Review of Existing Evaluation Data (REED)
As a required element of any initial evaluation, or subsequent reevaluation conducted under the IDEA, the IEP team must review any recent evaluations, information provided by parents, assessments (by teacher district or State) and observations by teachers and/or service providers.

Scientifically Based Research (SBR)
Federal law requires that educators must use instructional methods that have been proven effective through “scientifically based research.” These are teaching methods that have been carefully studied, documented, and proven to have worked for other students, based on extensive data collection.

Under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), SBR is defined as “research that involves the application of rigorous, systematic, and objective procedures to obtain reliable and valid knowledge relevant to education activities and programs.”

Under IDEA 2004, the term is used interchangeably with “peer-reviewed research.”

A “behavior management technique” which involves placing a child in a locked box, closet or room that is designed solely to seclude a person and contains less than 50 square feet of space. As with restraint, there is currently no federal law regulating the use of seclusion as a behavior management technique. For a state-by-state summary of the laws on restraint & seclusion, click here.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
A federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals on the basis of disability. The law applies to public elementary and secondary schools, as well as to other entities.

Shared Services Arrangement
An agreement between two or more school districts and/or Education Service Centers (ESCs) to share personnel or services.

Short-Term Instructional Objectives/Benchmarks
Statements in an IEP that describe small steps a student must learn or master before he/she can accomplish the “measurable annual goals” set for him/her.

Special Education
Specially designed supports and services, provided at no cost to parents & caretakers, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.

It is important to note that special education is not a place or location. Students are not “in” special education, but rather “receive” special education supports and services.

Specially Designed Instruction
Adaptations in the content, methodology or delivery of instruction designed to address the unique needs of each child with a disability. Specially designed instruction should ensure that the child has access to the general curriculum so that he or she can meet the educational standards that apply to all children.

Specific Learning Disability (SLD)
The IDEA defines SLD as: "A disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations" (20 U.S.C. 1401(30)).

The term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia and developmental aphasia.

Summary of Performance (SOP)
Upon graduation, a student with a disability must receive a summary of the student’s academic achievement and functional performance that includes recommendations to assist the student in meeting his or her postsecondary goals.

Supplemental Educational Services (SES)
In Texas, these include free tutoring opportunities, in addition to the instruction that occurs during the regular school day. These services take place outside of the school day, either before school, after school, or on weekends. Any Title I campus in Stages 2-5 of mandated improvement must offer Supplemental Educational Services (SES) to all students from low-income families.

Supplementary Aids and Services
Aids, services, and other supports that are provided in general education classes or other education-related settings, and in extracurricular and nonacademic settings, to enable children with disabilities to be educated with non-disabled children to the maximum extent appropriate.

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR)
A set of services offered to individuals with disabilities designed to enable participants to attain skills, resources, and expectations needed to compete in the interview process, as well as obtain & maintain employment. Work related services are individualized and may include counseling, training, medical treatment, assistive devices, job placement assistance, and other services.

Information provided by Texas Project FIRST

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