Navigating the various terms that come up in discussions about special education can be difficult, so our special education attorneys organized the below glossary to help parents. Feel free to print the glossary for easy access when you have a question about a term used by school personnel.
ABA: Applied Behavioral Analysis, a form of therapy often used to help students with autism.
AT: Assistive technology. Assistive technology provides a child tools to assist her with her educational endeavors. The tools can be as simple as highlighters, color coding files or drawers, books on tape, tape recorders, calculators, or a different paper color or background color on a computer screen. Assistive technology can also be high-tech. It can, for example, be computer software that reads to a student with a visual impairment.
APS: Approved Private School, a private school that Pennsylvania has approved for state funding.
ASD: Autism Spectrum Disorder.
BASC-2: Behavior Assessment System for Children, 2nd Edition, a test often performed by school districts when evaluating students with behavioral problems.
BEC: Basic Education Circular. Policy guidance on education issues from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
BIP: Behavior Intervention Plan (see PBSP).
BCBA: Board Certified Behavioral Analyst, a professional who is trained in developing behavioral interventions.
BSC: Behavioral Specialist Consultant.
BSE: Bureau of Special Education. Office in the Pennsylvania Department of
Education that administers and manages the state’s special education resources and oversees compliance with the IDEA.
CBA: Curriculum Based Assessment.
Chapter 14: The Chapter in Title 22 of the Pennsylvania Code which contains the Pennsylvania State Board of Education’s special education regulations
that implement the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Chapter 15: The Chapter in Title 22 of the Pennsylvania Code which contains the Pennsylvania State Board of Education’s regulations that implement Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Chapter 16: The Chapter in Title 22 of the Pennsylvania Code which contains the Pennsylvania State Board of Education’s regulations about Gifted Education.
Charter School: Charter Schools are publicly funded primary or secondary schools that separate themselves from ordinary public schools by waiving some of the rules and regulations that would normally apply. Through this, the schools may create their own unique culture and curriculum that can fit your child’s needs as a student. Philadelphia has a number of charter schools. A list can be found here.
Comp. Ed.: Compensatory Education. Services owed to a child when the child’s right to a free and appropriate public education has been violated. Compensatory education services can include, among other things, one-on-one tutoring by a teacher outside of normal school hours, summer school, speech and language therapy services, occupational therapy services, direct instruction from a private special education teacher outside of normal school hours, counseling services, or educational software.
DPH: Due Process Hearing (special education hearing). In Pennsylvania, hearing officers preside over due process hearings. In New Jersey and Florida, administrative law judges preside over the hearings. Parents can retain a special education attorney for a hearing, or they can litigate a hearing pro se.
ED: Emotional Disability (or Emotional Disturbance). Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, “emotional disturbance” is a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a period of time: (1) an inability to learn that 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; (4) a general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or (5) a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems. A student with emotional disturbance is eligible for special education services.
EI: Early Intervention. Early intervention is a way to serve the needs of a young child in need of special education services. It is a public program that provides educational services to toddler-age children with disabilities and their parents. The services include parent education, support services, developmental therapies, and other family-centered services.
EIS: Early Intervening Services.
ER: Evaluation Report.
ESY: Extended School Year (summer services for students with disabilities). The typical length of a school year is 180 days in the United States. For a student with a disability, there is the possibility that during the summer months, she will experience educational regression. Extended School Year services are designed to prevent such regression.
Executive Functioning Skills: Executive functioning skills are the skills an individual uses to complete a goal. The skills include focusing, organizing, and planning, all skills that are critical to succeeding in school. Oftentimes, students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) suffer from executive functioning deficits.
FAPE: Free Appropriate Public Education. What school districts must provide students with disabilities. To provide FAPE, a school district must afford a student with a disability an Individualized Education Program that is reasonably calculated to provide her meaningful educational benefit. If your child is being denied FAPE, you may be able to access compensatory education services. Special education lawyers like Berney & Sang can help.
FBA: Functional Behavior Assessment.
GARS: Gilliam Autism Rating Scale.
GED: General Equivalency Diploma.
GIEP: Gifted Individualized Education Plan.
IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Federal law that requires states (and school districts) to provide children with disabilities a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). The IDEA establishes the right of children with disabilities to special education. It is the banner special education law.
IDEIA 2004: Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004. Name of the law which reauthorized and amended the IDEA in 2004.
IEE: Independent Educational Evaluation. An IEE is an evaluation that a parent obtains from a private professional. Parents can obtain public funding for IEEs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
IEP: Individualized Education Program. A plan that sets forth educational interventions and a placement for a student with a disability. IEPs are the lynchpin of a child’s special education program.
IFSP: Individualized Family Service Plan. An educational plan for children with disabilities from birth to age three.
ISS: Instructional Support Services.
IU: Intermediate Unit. Pennsylvania’s 29 Intermediate Units are regional education service agencies charged with providing programs and services to public, private and non-public (religious) schools.
LD: Learning Disability or Learning Disabled. One well known learning disability is dyslexia.
LEA: Local Educational Agency (this often refers to school districts). The School District of Philadelphia, for example, is an LEA.
LRE: Least Restrictive Environment. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, students with disabilities must be educated in the least restrictive environment; they must have an opportunity to be educated with non-disabled peers to the greatest extent appropriate.
LS: Learning Support.
MDE: Multidisciplinary Evaluation.
NORA: Notice of Recommended Assignment.
NOREP/PWN: Notice of Recommended Educational Placement/Prior Written Notice. A notice informing parents of the educational placement that their school district recommends.
ODD: Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
OCD: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
ODR: Office for Dispute Resolution. Office funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to coordinate services for Due Process Hearings and other dispute resolution options (such as mediation and IEP facilitation).
OT: Occupational Therapy. Occupational therapy is designed to enhance a student’s ability to fully access and be successful in the learning environment. It can include working on handwriting or fine motor skills so the student can complete written assignments, helping the student organize herself in school, and adapting learning materials.
PaTTAN: Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network. Provides educators, parents, and agencies involved in special education with a statewide network of technical assistance trainings, and publications.
PDE: Pennsylvania Department of Education. State agency responsible for overseeing the provision of education and educational services to all children within the state.
PASA: Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment. Statewide test for children with significant cognitive disabilities who cannot take the PSSA.
PBS: Positive Behavior Support.
PBSP: Positive Behavior Support Plan (see BIP).
PDD/NOS: Pervasive Developmental Delay/Not Otherwise Specified, a type of disability.
PSSA: Pennsylvania System of School Assessment. Statewide test measuring student proficiency on state academic standards.
PT: Physical therapy.
PTE: Permission to Evaluate. School districts provide a PTE to a parent before evaluating her child for special education services.
RR: Reevaluation Report.
RtI: Response to Intervention. Response to intervention is a process used by educators to help students who are struggling with a skill or lesson. Oftentimes when a child fails to respond to RtI, school districts move forward with testing the child for special education services.
SAS: Supplementary aids and services.
SDI: Specially designed instruction (special education).
SDP: School District of Philadelphia. The School District of Philadelphia operates most of the public schools in Philadelphia County. If your child is eligible for special education and attends a school operated by the District, the District is responsible for providing special education services.
SEA: State Educational Agency. In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Department of Education. SEAs are ultimately responsible for students with disabilities receiving a free and appropriate public education; they are ultimately responsible for upholding students’ special education rights.
Section 504 Plan: Also known as a Service Agreement, 504 Plan, or 504 Accommodations Plan. A plan adopted for children who are eligible for accommodations or other services due to disability under Chapter 15 and Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
SLD: Specific learning disability.
ST: Speech Therapy.
TOWRE: Test of Word Reading Efficiency, a test that school districts sometime use when evaluating a student with a disability.