Commonly Used Special Education Terms

  • Commonly Used Special Educational Terms


    Definitions of commonly used terms in special education.



    Academic Intervention Services (AIS) – These are student support services which supplement instruction provided in the general curriculum and are designed to assist students in meeting State learning standards. AIS are available to students with special needs and shall be provided consistent with the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP).


    Advocacy – The act of supporting or defending a child’s interests and rights.


    Annual Review – An annual review evaluation is conducted at least once a year by the Committee on Special Education for each child with a disability for the purposes of recommending the continuation, modification, or termination of the special education program.


    Assessment – This is an evaluation procedures used to identify a child’s needs and the family’s concerns and priorities about their child’s development.


    Assistive Technology Devices and Services – These are Equipment and services that are approved to be used to improve or maintain the abilities of a child to function, including such activities as playing, communicating or eating. (See 504)


    Child With a Disability – A person under the age of 21 who is entitled to attend public school but because of mental, physical or emotional reasons, can only receive appropriate education opportunities from a program of special education.


    Child’s Teacher – For a student with a disability who is receiving special education, in a self-contained class, any special education teacher who provides special education to the student. For an identified student in a regular education classroom, the child’s teacher may be the regular educator and the special educator working together.


    Cognitive – A term that describes the process used for remembering, reasoning, understanding, and making decisions. Your child’s cognitive abilities will be assessed during the evaluation.


    Committee on Special Education (CSE) – The committee appointed by the school Board of Education to determine eligibility and the appropriate level of services for children aged 5-21 years old. The CSE is a multidisciplinary team established to conduct meetings to develop, review, or revise the Individual Education Program (IEP) or a student with a disability.


    Confidentiality – The right that personal information about a child and family is not released without parental consent or only when permitted or required by law.


    Consent – The written approval a parent gives to the Committee on Special Education to have their child evaluated and receive services. Consent is always voluntary and a parent may revoke it at any time.


    Developmental History – Steps or stages of a child’s growth in such skills as sitting, walking, and talking. This information is gathered as part of the social history requirements.


    Dominant Language – The language or other mode of communication that the family normally uses. Evaluations of your child are required to be administered in the child’s dominant language.


    Due Process – Procedures designed to protect a person’s rights. This includes requirements for confidentiality, consent, and complaint mechanisms.


    Educationally Related Support Services (ERSS) – Services are intended for students who are not eligible for special education services, but are eligible to receive speech and counseling services.


    Impartial Hearing – An impartial hearing is a formal process in which a family present and refute evidence before an impartial hearing officer (IHO).  The impartial hearing officer’s role is to resolve the dispute or complaint regarding the child’s evaluation, IEP, or certain other issues.


    Individualized Education Program (IEP) – A written plan developed by the CSE which specifies the appropriate level of special education programs and services to be provided to meet the unique educational needs of a student with a disability.


    Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) – The placement of students with disabilities in special classes, separate schools or other removal from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that even with the use of supplementary aids and services, education cannot be satisfactorily achieved.


    Mediation – A method for solving a problem that uses persons trained in helping people resolve their own problems. In mediation, the school district and parent will try to reach an agreement in which both parties are satisfied.


    Occupational Therapy (OT) – Services delivered by an occupational therapist that relate to self-help skills, adaptive behavior, play, sensory, motor and postural development.


    Parent Support Group – Discussion and information-sharing meetings for parents of children with disabilities.


    Pendency – A due process right that the parent and child have that allows the child and family to continue to receive services as described on the current IEP while the parent works to resolve a dispute.


    Physical Therapy (PT) – Services provided by a physical therapist that relate to large movement difficulties and related functional problems.

    Psychological Evaluation – Is a formal or informal process used by a certified school psychologist or licensed psychologist to determine the child’s mental health for purposes of education planning.   A variety of psychological, education techniques and examinations are used to determine the student’s developmental, learning, behavioral and other personality characteristics.


    Reevaluation Review – This is a process to reassess the child’s ability and achievement within a three-year period.


    Related Services – These are support services such as speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, psychological services, and counseling services. These services can be delivered in an individual or group setting.

    Response To Intervention (RTI) - Instructional interventions provided and specifically designed to meet the needs of a student’s identified area of weakness. This is a process that determines if the student responds to scientific, research-based intervention and is done prior to a referral to CSE.


    Section 504 Accommodation Plan – An education plan or modifications for a student suspected of a disability that may not require special education services.


    Social History – An assessment conducted to provide information on the social and emotional strengths and needs of the child.


    Special Education – Specially designed instruction which includes special services or programs.


    Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT) – A preschool special education teacher who provides direct and indirect service in regular programs or a child’s home for students aged 3 and 4.


    Speech Therapy (SP or ST) – These are services that are provided by a speech and language pathologist that relate to delays in speech development and communication.


    Special Education Department (SED) – This is the state agency that establishes education regulations and provides support to counties and school districts.


    Subcommittee – A decision-making committee appointed by the Board of Education which may perform functions similar to CSE with some exceptions.


    Triennial Review – This is a reassessment of the child’s ability and achievement within a 3-year period.