Special Education » Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Special Education Terms

Assistive Technology Device: A piece of equipment or a product which is used to increase, maintain or improve the way a child with a disability interacts and communicates with the world around them.  This does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted or the replacement of such a device.  

Assistive Technology Services: Services to help a child with a disability use an assistive technology device.  These services include evaluating the needs of the child, providing the device, and then training the child, the child's family and the professionals who work with that child in the use of the device. 

Chapter 14: The Pennsylvania state law pertaining to the delivery of special education services and programs.   

Child With a Disability: A child evaluated as having a intellectual disability, hearing impairment including deafness, speech or language impairment, visual impairment including blindness, emotional disturbance, or orthopedic impairment, autism, traumatic brain injury, another health impairment, specific learning disability, deaf-blindness, or multiple disabilities, and who as a result of the disability needs special education and related services.

Due Process: The procedures that parents can use to disagree with the decisions of school district officials concerning special education.  The parent is informed of this right by written notice, which describes the options of mediation and due process.

Evaluation:  The process used to determine if a child has a disability and if special education is needed.  The evaluation looks at how the child learns, the kinds of instruction that would be successful and the kinds of instruction that have been tried and have not resulted in success.

Evaluation Report: The report that is compiled and written by the evaluation team (which includes parents) following an evaluation.  It describes all of the information gathered from the team members, including the results of assessment.  From the report, the evaluation team determines the student's eligibility and need for special education programs. 

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE):  A program of education and related services for a child with a disability that is designed to meet the child's special education needs.  Appropriate services are those which allow the child to make meaningful progress in the educational setting.  FAPE is provided without charge to parents.

Individualized Education Plan (IEP):  The document that guides the education of a student with disabilities is called an Individualized Education Program or IEP.  Every child who receives special education services must have an IEP.  This document is developed by the IEP team and includes information about your child's present level of educational performance along with goals that have been set for your child to achieve during the school year.  The IEP specifically defines where, what kind of and how often special education and related services will be provided.  It identifies the tests or other methods of assessment that will be used to decide if your child is meeting the annual goals.  The IEP includes information about how and when your child's progress will be reported to you.  IEPs are reviewed at least one time each year and more often if needed.  You or another member of the IEP team may request an IEP meeting at any time. 

IEP Team:  Required members of each IEP team are:

  1. The child's parent(s)

  2. At least one of the child's general education teachers (if your child is, or might become, part of general education classes)

  3. At least one special education teacher

  4. A representative of the school district who:

    1. Is qualified to provide or supervise special education programs

    2. Knows about the general education curriculum

    3. Knows about the resources the local educational agency (LEA) can offer

  5. Someone who can interpret the evaluation results, who may already be a member of the team

  6. At your request or that of the school district, other people who know your child well or who have worked with your child. You may bring an advocate to advise you or anyone else who will be able to add information about your child's educational experiences

  7. If your child will reach age 14 during the duration of the IEP, planning for lite after graduation will occur as a component of the IEP. The same process can be initiated anytime before that age if you request such. The student of transition age can be present at the IEP conference if requested by the parent.

  8. A representative from a vocational-technical school if a vocational-technical program is being considered for your child

One person may fill more than one of the roles described above. The minimum number of people at the IEP meeting should be four in most circumstances:

  • Parent

  • The local education agency (LEA) representative

  • A special education teacher

  • A general education teacher (if your child will participate at all in general education)

Regulations stipulate that if the parent chooses not to attend the IEP meeting, it may be held without them. The parent may also request a phone and/or virtual meeting.

 Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA '04):  The federal law which governs the provision of special education services and the rights of parents of a child with disabilities.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE):  Students eligible for special education will be educated to the maximum extend appropriate with students who are not disabled.

Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP):  The form issued to parents to inform them of the placement recommended by the IEP team.

Parent:  A natural parent, adoptive parent, surrogate parent, or foster parent who has been assigned educational decision-making rights.  The term may also apply to an individual acting in the place of a natural or adoptive parent (including grandparent or other relative) with whom the child lives and who has educational decision-making rights, or an individual who is legally responsible for the child.

Related Services: Services necessary to ensure that the child benefits from the special education program.  Examples are special transportation, counseling, school health services, social work, occupational therapy and physical therapy.  

Specially Designed Instruction:  Adapting the content, methods, or delivery of the instruction as is appropriate based on the unique needs of the child with a disability.

Transition Services:  Specific planning in school that helps prepare students with disabilities to participate more effectively in higher education or job training, community participation, independent living, continuing and adult education, and employment when they leave school.