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Educational Terminology and Definitions Associated with Special Education Services

Flint Hills Special Education Cooperative


A pocket guide to understanding the language commonly used in the field of special education

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Flint Hills Special Education Cooperative
1700 W. 7th
Emporia, KS 66801
(620) 341-2325

Federal, state, and school district policies and regulations are based on federal and state law. Much of the language used within the field of special education is taken from the written laws. While compliance with the law is imperative, making the whole process “user friendly” is the intent of this document.

Accommodations
Provisions made in how a student accesses and demonstrates learning. These do not substantially change the instruction level, content, or performance criteria. Made to provide equal access to learning and equal access to demonstrate what is known.

Affective Behavior
Skills in understanding one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions in order to act and interact appropriately with others.

Annual Goals
Describe the educational performance to be achieved by a student by the end of the IEP year.

Adaptive Physical Education (APE)
Involves modifications/accommodations when locomotor and/or object-control skills are significantly delayed as compared to same-aged peers.

Assessments
The process of gathering and carefully interpreting information about a child using a variety of formal tests and informal observation that provides guidance in developing an educational program.

**Criterion Referenced Test (CRT) – A non-standardized test that measures specific knowledge or content a student has learned or not learned.
**Curriculum Based Measurement (CBM) – A standardized assessment that utilizes the district curriculum to measure student performance as compared to individual school norms.
**Kansas Alternate Assessment – A comprehensive evaluation designed for students with the most significant disabilities for whom the Kansas assessments, even with accommodations or modifications, are not appropriate.
**Kansas Modified Assessment – An evaluation for students who perform at or below the 4.0 percentile rank, yet do not qualify for the Kansas Alternate Assessment.

Assistive Technology Device (ATD)
Equipment that helps students perform daily living tasks, communicate with others, participate in the educational process, join in recreational activities and/or work. Using these tools can help students become more independent.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Both disorders are characterized by inattention and behavior exhibited with little or no thought given to the consequence of the action or to the extent that they disrupt the learning of the student or others. Each condition has onset before age seven and is exhibited continually over a period of at least six months. While ADD is manifested through introverted behaviors, ADHD is demonstrated by impulsivity.

Auditory Processing
The ability to process and/or understand information taken in through the ears. Children who have auditory processing difficulties may experience problems in language development including reading, spelling, speech, and the ability to understand verbal instructions.

Benchmark
Levels of academic performance used as checkpoints to monitor progress toward performance goals and/or academic standards.

Behavior Intervention Plan
An outline of positive behavioral supports and intervention strategies, designed by the IEP team to prevent problem behavior that hinders the student’s learning or that of others.

Decoding Skills
Skills that are needed to identify letters and words, either spoken or written, and understand their meaning in the setting they are used.

Developmental Delay (DD)
Used to describe the development of children who are not able to perform skills other children of the same age are usually able to perform.

Differentiated Instruction
Consistently using a variety of instructional approaches to the content, process, and/or products in response to learning styles and interest of academically diverse students.

Educational Advocate
Appointed for students ages three to eighteen who are in the custody of SRS, the Department of Corrections (DOC), or the Juvenile Justice Authority (JJA); are receiving special education services or need an evaluation to determine eligibility for services; and whose parents are unknown or unavailable, whose parents’ rights have been terminated, or whose parents have a court order of “no contact” against them.

Exceptionality
Includes children with disabilities and/or giftedness.

Extended School Year (ESY)
Additional instructional time is provided to the student so the student will not significantly lose skills that he/she has already learned. The IEP is the guiding document for ESY and should be considered at initial, annual, and triennial reviews.

Fine Motor Skills
Small muscle development involving the integration of the student’s vision and the use of his/her hands.

Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)
A hypothesis of a student’s purpose in exhibiting negative behaviors. An FBA answers the questions of when, where, and why challenging behaviors occur. It is developed using input from those who know and work with the student, and is used to assist in the development of a behavior intervention plan.

Gross Motor
The ability to use large muscles in a purposeful manner such as walking, jumping, and bending over.

Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)
An individual plan written by a local agency responsible for a student’s education from birth to three years of age.

Individualized Education Program (IEP)
A written plan for a student with disabilities that is developed collaboratively with the parents, student (when appropriate), the school, and other agencies as appropriate.

Modification
Altering the length, content and scope in which assignments or tests are to be completed to allow a student with a disabling condition to complete the approved curriculum.

Occupational Therapy (OT)
A therapy or treatment that helps individual development of skills that will aid in daily living, perceptual motor skills, and sensory motor skills.

Perceptual Motor Skills
The ability to perceive a situation, evaluate it, and decide on what action to take (e.g. copying shapes or crossing a street).

Physical Therapy (PT)
Therapeutic interventions that focus on the treatment of impairments including decreased strength, low endurance, limited range of motion, poor balance or posture, and developmental delay.

Progress Reports
Information regarding a student’s progress toward the annual IEP goals must be shared with the parents at least as often as parents of non-disabled students are informed of their student’s progress.

Phonemic Awareness
The awareness that language is composed of small sounds and the ability to manipulate these sounds.

Regression/Recoupment
The amount of loss of skills a child experiences over an instructional break (primarily summer vacation) and the length of time it takes him/her to recover the lost skills.

Related Services
Includes such services as transportation, speech-language therapy, audiology services, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, social work, and counseling services.

Special Education
Specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parent, to meet the identified needs of a student with disabilities.

Speech Therapy
The process for remediation of speech disorders, such as stuttering, lisping, misarticulation, conducted by a qualified speech pathologist on a one-to-one or small group basis.

Transition Planning
A process in which the student, family members, friends, and professionals come together to develop and implement a plan of action that will help students lead active, productive adult lives.

Visual Processing
The ability to process and/or understand what one sees. Children who have visual processing difficulties may experience problems in academic subjects including reading, spelling, math, and the ability to understand written instructions.

Vocational Rehabilitation
Services to help people with disabilities become gainfully employed and self-sufficient. Services include counseling and guidance, physical and mental restoration, training, rehabilitation technology; job placement, job coaching and ongoing support.

Areas of Exceptionality

(Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – 1997 Reauthorized 2000)

Autism
A developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences.

Deaf-Blindness (DB)
The combinations of hearing and visual impairments which cause such severe communication and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness.

Deafness
A hearing impairment that is so severe that a child is impaired in processing information through hearing, with or without amplification that adversely affects educational performance.

Emotional Disturbance (ED)
A condition creating emotional interference with a student’s educational progress, existing over a long period of time and to a marked degree.

Gifted (GI)
Demonstrating the potential for performing at significantly higher levels of accomplishment in one or more academic fields due to intellectual ability, when compared to others of similar age, experience, and environment.

Hearing Impairment (HI)
An impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

Mental Retardation (MR)
Substantially below average general intellectual functioning, existing with deficits in adaptive behavior that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

Multiple Disabilities
The combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments.

Orthopedic Impairment (OI)
A motor disability caused by an anomaly, disease or impairment where the child requires specialized and integrated services in order to benefit from an educational program.

Other Health Impairment (OHI)
Having limited strength, vitality or alertness due to chronic or acute health problems that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

Specific Learning Disability (LD)
A disorder that affects students’ ability to interpret what they see and hear or to link information from different parts of the brain.

Speech or Language Impairment (SL)
A communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
An acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force. The term applies to open or closed head injuries.

Visual Impairment (VI)
(Including blindness) An impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

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