• Glossary

    Achievement: The level of a child's accomplishment on a test of knowledge or skill.

    Accommodations:  Changes in classroom or testing situations that do not substantially alter what is to be presented; includes changes in presentation format, response format, setting or timing.

    ADA:  Americans with Disabilities Act: 1990's Federal legislation expanding civil rights of persons with disabilities in public and private sectors; affects employment, transportation, architectural barriers, and public accommodations.

    Adaptive Behavior:  An individual's social competence and ability to cope with the demands of the environment.

    Adaptive Physical Education: A modified program of physical education instruction implemented to meet the needs of students with disabilities.

    ADD:  Attention-Deficit Disorder: A disorder characterized by the inability to concentrate and, in some cases, impulsiveness and hyperactivity.  Between three and ten percent of the nation's school-age children are thought to have ADD.

    Advocate:  An individual, either a parent or professional, who works to establish or improve services for children.

    ADHD:  Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder: A syndrome usually diagnosed in childhood that is often associated with learning disabilities and results in failure to achieve the expected level of academic performance.  A psychiatric classification used to describe individuals who exhibit poor attention, distractibility, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.

    Anecdotal Record:  A procedure for recording and analyzing observations of a child's behavior; an objective, narrative description.

    Annual Goals:  Yearly activities or achievements to be completed or attained by the child, documented on the Individual Educational Program.

    Assessment:  The process of gathering information about children in order to make educational decisions.

    AT:  As defined by IDEA, Assistive Technology includes "any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a child with a disability."  Educational institutions must adhere to the federal "least restrictive" mandate, considering no tech options, low-tech, mid-tech, and high-tech programs and devices in sequence.

    At Risk:  Usually refers to infants or children with a high potential for experiencing future medical or learning problems.

    AYP:  Adequate Yearly Progress: An annual measurement of improvement in student achievement based on state academic standards. School districts and schools must meet this minimum standard as part of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.

    Baseline Data:  An objective measure used to compare and evaluate the results obtained during some implementation of an instructional procedure.

    Behavior Modification:  The techniques used to change behavior by applying principles of reinforcement learning.

    BSEA:  Bureau of Special Education Appeals: The Bureau of Special Education Appeals ("BSEA") conducts mediations, advisory opinions and hearings to resolve disputes among parents, school districts, private schools and state agencies concerning eligibility, evaluation, placement, individualized education programs (IEPs), special education services and procedural protections for students with disabilities

    Cognition:  The understanding of information.

    Criterion Referenced Tests:  Tests in which the child is evaluated on his/her own performance according to a set of criteria and not in comparison with others.

    Deficit:  A level of performance that is less than expected for a child.

    Diagnosis:  Identification of a specific disability/disabilities as a result of evaluation.

    DESE:  Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education: The state administrative agency responsible for overseeing all public and private preschool, school-age and higher education in the Commonwealth.

    Due Process:  The legal steps and processes outlined in educational law that protect the rights of children with disabilities.

    EI:  Early Intervention: Special Education and related services provided to children under the age of 3.

    Enrichment:  Providing a child with extra and more sophisticated learning experiences than those normally presented in the curriculum.

    ESY:  Extended School Year: Eligibility for ESY is determined at each IEP meeting, along with determination of the services to be provided.  Many factors are considered for eligibility (regression, recoupment, severity of disability, etc.).

    Etiology:  The cause or causes of a problem.

    FAPE:  Free and Appropriate Public Education: This refers to the special education and related services that are provided at public expense to children with disabilities, conform to the state requirements, and conform to the individual's IEP, to provide educational benefit.

    FBA:  Functional Behavior Analysis: A standardized interview/observation/ intervention procedure that includes the systematic collection of data used to support hypotheses regarding behaviors and prescribe specific interventions.

    FERPA:  Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act:  A federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.  These rights include: the right to inspect and review the student's education record maintained by the school; the right to request that a school correct records which they believe to be inaccurate or misleading; and the expectation that written permission be given in order to release any information from a student's record (some exceptions are allowed under this law).  The rights of the parent or guardian transfer to the student when the student reaches the age of 18.

    IDEA:  Individuals with Disabilities Education Act:  The main federal law requiring states and school districts to provide a "free and appropriate" special education to all eligible children. Provides regulations, rights, guarantees and some funding to states.

    IEP:  Individualized Education Program:  A written educational program that outlines a disabled child's current levels of performance, related services, educational goals, and modifications.  This plan is developed by a team including the child's parent(s), teacher(s) and supportive staff.

    IFSP:  Individualized Family Service Plan: A plan for infants and preschoolers that includes: a statement of the child's present level of cognitive, social, speech and language, and self-help development; a statement of the family's strengths and needs related to enhancing the child's development; a statement of the major outcomes expected for the child and family; criteria, procedures and timelines for measuring progress; a statement of the specific early intervention services necessary to meet the unique needs of the child and family, including methods, frequency and intensity of services; projected dates for initiation and expected duration of services; the name of the person who will manage the case; and procedures for transition from early intervention.

    Inclusion:  Education of disabled children in their home school, with non-handicapped children in the same classroom.

    Interdisciplinary Team:  Individuals from a variety of disciplines engaged in a collective effort to assess the needs of a child.

    IQ:  Intelligence Quotient: A way of expressing the results, through a score, of an intelligence test.

    LEA:  Local Education Agency: Generally refers to the school district of legal residence for a child/family.

    Level of Performance: This statement comes from the information collected during the evaluation process.  It reflects the strengths and weaknesses of the individual student - what the student has learned and what he or she needs to learn.  It provides direction for planning the student's instructional program.

    LRE:  Least Restrictive Environment: A requirement of IDEA.  The educational setting of exceptional children and the education of handicapped children with non-handicapped children whenever realistic and possible.  It is the least restrictive setting in which the disabled child can function without difficulty.

    Mainstreaming:  The practice of educating exceptional children in the regular classroom.

    NAEYC: National Association for the Education of Young Children provides a national, voluntary accreditation system has set professional standards for early childhood education programs, and helps families identify high-quality programs for their young children.

    Native Language:  The primary language used by an individual.

    NCLB:  No Child Left Behind: The NCLB was signed into law in January 2002.  It amended Titles I and III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).  NCLB redefines the federal role in K-12 education and is intended to close the achievement gap between disadvantaged and minority students and their peers.

    Norm Referenced Tests:  Tests used to compare a child's performance with the performance of others using the same measure.

    ODD:  Oppositional Defiant Disorder: The covert display of underlying aggression by patterns of obstinate, but generally passive behavior.  Children with this disorder often provoke adults or other children by the use of negativism, stubbornness, dawdling, procrastination, and other behaviors. (also Oppositional Disorder).

    Paraprofessionals:  Trained assistants who work with a classroom teacher and students in the education process.

    PDD:  Pervasive Developmental Disorder: A neurobiological disorder that affects a child's social, mental, linguistic, and physical development.  Examples include autism, Rhett's disorder, conduct disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder.  Children with PDD often experience behavioral, emotional, and motor problems, and need speech, language, occupational, physical, and other therapies.

    Pragmatics: The functional (social) use of language.

    Positive Reinforcement:  Any stimulus or event, occurring after a behavior has been exhibited, that increases the possibility of repetition of that behavior in the future.

    Prior Written Notice: A written notice that must be given to the parents of a child with a disability a reasonable time before an LEA (a) Proposes to initiate or change the identification, evaluation or educational placement of the child or the provision of FAPE to the child; or (b) Refuses to initiate or change the identification, evaluation or educational placement of a child or the provision of FAPE to the child.

    Procedural Safeguards Notice: Requirement that schools provide full easily understood explanation of procedural safeguards that describe parent's right to an independent educational evaluation, to examine records, to request mediation and due process.

    MCAS:  Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System: Standards based criterion-referenced assessment used to measure students' attainment of the academic standards, and determining the degree to which school programs enable students to attain proficiency of the standards.

    Related Services:  Services provided to children with disabilities to benefit from special education and to assist in their ability to learn and function in the least restrictive environment.  Such services may include occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, etc.

    Remediation:  An educational program designed to teach children to overcome some deficit or delay through education and training.

    Screening: The process of examining children to identify high-risk children or gather preliminary performance data.

    Section 504:  Contained in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 in which guarantees are provided for the civil rights of disabled children and adults.  It also applies to the provision of accommodations for children whose disability is not severe enough to warrant special education eligibility, but who demonstrate substantial limitation to one or more major life activity.

    Self-Contained Class:  A special classroom for children with disabilities usually located within a regular school building.

    Sensory Integration: Neurologic processes involved in interpreting and using sensory input.  If there are disturbances in integration, sounds may be perceived as louder than normal, touch may be perceived as painful, etc.

    Social Stories: A technique developed by Carol Gray, used to help individuals with deficits in social cognition, the ability to think in ways necessary for appropriate social interactions (for example; assuming the perspective of another person).  Social stories help individuals "read" and understand social situations.  These (often individualized stories) seek to answer who, what, when, where and why in social situations.

    Surrogate Parent:  A person other than the child's natural parent who has legal responsibility for the child's care and welfare.

    Transition Plan: A special plan separate from the IEP that documents goals and objectives for a student that aid him/her in making the transition from school to work.  These plans are created annually beginning when a student turns 14.





Last Modified on January 21, 2022