Frequently Used Terms

An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is the document that outlines a child's specific special education and related services, including present levels of performance, goals, related services, specialized instruction, etc. A student's placement is to be based on the IEP. The IEP is developed by a team of individuals, and must be reviewed at least annually.

The IEP Team is a group of individuals who meet to develop a child's IEP, consisting at least of the following: one or both parents of the student; a district representative with knowledge of available resources; a general education teacher of the child if the child may be in general education; a special education teacher or provider of the child; a person who is qualified to interpret the results of any assessment that is to be reviewed by the team; the child, when appropriate; other persons at the discretion of the parent or district. The team may also include the related services providers.

Free appropriate public education (FAPE) means an individualized plan of special education and related services provided in conformity with the child's IEP, at no costs to parents, and which meet the unique needs of the student and provide an educational benefit.

Accommodations are supports designed to "level the playing field" for students with disabilities. Accommodations change the way that a test or assignment is presented, but do not substantially change what the test or assignment is measuring (i.e. the content the child is required to learn). Examples include reducing the number of problems, presenting fewer questions per page, allowing for oral answers, allowing for separate test setting, etc.

Modifications are also designed to support a student within the curriculum. However, modifications substantially change what the child is expected to demonstrate. Modifications may involve changes to the grade level of the instruction, changes to the content, or the provision of alternative assessments. Modifications to the curriculum may mean that the child is no longer expected to learn what other kids at that grade level are expected to learn.

Assistive Technology device means a piece of equipment or item utilized to maintain or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability. An AT device could be something as "low-tech" as a pencil grip and something as "high-tech" as a specialized computer with specialized software or an augmentative communication device. AT services are those services that assist a child in acquiring or using an AT device, and can include evaluations, adaptations, instruction, consultations, etc.

Behavior Support Plan (BSP) refers to a portion of the IEP that indicates specific behavioral strategies and supports that will be utilized for the particular child to meet his/her behavioral needs in the classroom. It is sometimes referred to as a Positive Behavior Support Plan (PBSP), and should be based on positive reinforcements as the primary type of strategy.

Behavior Intervention Plan
(BIP) is similar to a BSP, in that it include positive behavioral interventions that specifically address the needs of a child whose behaviors interfere with his/her learning or that of others. It should be noted that a BIP is what is recognized / defined in the law, and a BSP is more of a district-specific tool. BIPs are based upon specific types of assessments in the area of behavior.

Counseling Services
are related services that include those provided by social workers, psychologists, guidance counselors, or other qualified personnel. Counseling services are sometimes used to meet a child's emotional, social or behavioral needs, and are provided either in an individual or group setting. Because social skills groups are sometimes run by persons listed under this service, the IEP may also categorize social skills as a counseling service.

Occupational Therapy (OT) is a related service that includes interventions to remediate motor skills, including fine motor deficits and sensory processing and modulation difficulties. OT is sometimes provided within a classroom setting directly to the student, working on skills such as cutting, writing, and other fine motor skills; sometimes as a consultative and direct service in the classroom to provide supports such as a "sensory diet;" and sometimes provided in an OT clinic, which has sensory equipment available.

Orientation and mobility services are related services that are provided to visually impaired students to address their needs related to moving safely at home, school and in the community.

Paraprofessional is an individual who is employed by the public school district and supervised by a credentialed teacher to provide support to the classroom or to a particular student.

A one-to-one aide is an individual who is either employed by the public school district or by an agency contracting with the district to provide support directly to a particular student. This may be in place to provide support to address a child's behavioral, social, safety, or communication needs.

Recreation therapy (RT) is a related service that includes therapeutic recreation services, recreation programs, and leisure education. RT is utilized to address a child's recreation and leisure needs, including helping a child learn to appropriately access leisure time in school and the community.

Related services means those that are necessary for a child to benefit from his/her special education.

School Nurse services are related services that are provided by a qualified school nurse and are designed to meet the child's needs related to health that impact his/her ability to access an educational benefit.

Special education refers to specifically designed instruction that is provided to the child to meet his/her unique needs and provide an educational benefit.

Speech-language services are related services that address the needs of a student related to speech or language impairments. Speech therapy may address expressive language deficits, receptive language deficits, articulation delays, pragmatic language needs, etc.

Supplementary aides and services refers to aids, services, supports, accommodations, interventions, etc that are provided to enable the child to be educated with nondisabled peers and in the general education environment and curriculum to the maximum extent appropriate.

Transition services are those that are designed to meet the child's needs related to moving from school to the workplace or to higher education. Transition services are part of a child's IEP beginning at age 16.

Transportation is a related service that provides travel, including special transportation, specialized equipment, etc to ensure that the child is able to access an educational benefit.

Annual Goals are a required part of a child's IEP, and are individualized statements of what the child will achieve / learn in the next year. Goals are developed to address the child's unique needs so that the child is enabled to make progress towards general education curriculum, and to address each of the child's other unique needs arising from his/her disability. Goals must be measurable and objective, and should be driven by the present levels of performance.

Present levels of performance (PLOP) are statements within the IEP regarding the child's current level of achievement in areas related to academics, functional and developmental skills. PLOP should be based on assessment data, input from teachers and parents, etc and should provide a "baseline" for the IEP.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is a legal term that refers to the responsibility to educate children with disabilities in general education classrooms and with non-disabled peers to the maximum extent possible. A child's least restrictive environment is the setting in which he/she can be educated appropriately while having the maximum access to general education and non-disabled peers possible / appropriate to that child. The LRE continuum refers to the list of placements that should be available within a school district, on a continuum for the least restrictive (general education) to the most restrictive (residential or home instruction). LRE is an individualized decision for each child.

General curriculum or general education curriculum refers to the educational curriculum adopted by the school district or the state for students in preschool through high school who are in regular classes. States may have curriculum "content standards" that dictate what core concepts should be mastered at each grade level.

Core academic subjects refers to English, reading or language arts, science, mathematics, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history and geography.

Inclusion is a term that does not appear in the statute, but is frequently used in special education cases. Inclusion refers to including students with disabilities in the regular education schools and classrooms with their nondisabled peers, usually for a majority of the day.

Mainstreaming refers to time that a special education student otherwise in a special education setting attends regular classrooms, according to when they are able to gain an educational benefit.