Helpful Terminology

  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
    A set of scientific principles and guidelines which uses direct observation, measurement, and analysis of the relationship between the environment and behavior. In programming for students with autism, ABA employs intensive, highly structured teaching approaches where skills are broken down into their simplest most manageable form.

    Alternative Assessment
    An alternative to conventional means of assessing achievement; usually means using something other than a paper and pencil test, such as oral testing or work sample review.

    Assistive Technology (AT)
    Any item, piece of equipment, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.

    Auditory Discrimination
    The ability to recognize, compare, and differentiate the discrete sounds in words.

    Auditory Memory
    The ability to remember something heard some time in the past (long-term auditory memory); the ability to recall something heard very recently (short-term auditory memory).

    Behavior Modification
    A technique intended to alter behavior by positive reinforcement (rewarding desirable actions) and extinguishing undesirable actions.

    Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP)
    The term can be generally defined as a component of a child's IEP that describes positive behavioral interventions and other strategies that the district must implement to prevent and control unacceptable behaviors.

    Central Auditory Processing Disorders (CAPD)
    A deficit in information processing of audible stimuli with no deficits attributed to impairments in hearing or intelligence. To put it simply, it is the inability to attend to, discriminate, recognize or comprehend what is heard, even though hearing and intelligence are normal.

    Child Study Team
    Consists of a school psychologist, a learning disabilities teacher/consultant, school social worker, and when needed, a speech-language specialist, responsible for conducting evaluations to determine eligibility for special education and related services for students with disabilities.

    Cognitive Ability
    Cognitive, intellectual or innate ability tests measure identifiable skills related to learning or potential. Cognitive ability is often broken down into components such as verbal skills, non-verbal skills, processing speed and/or working memory.

    Compensatory Strategies
    Ways in which a student is taught to manage his or her learning problems, by manipulating and emphasizing strengths as a way to work around skills and/or abilities which may be limited.

    The process of acquiring meaning from spoken, written, or printed symbols used in receptive language.

    Developmental Delay
    Failure to meet expected developmental milestones in one or more of the following areas: physical, social, emotional, intellectual, speech and language and/or adaptive development. Developmental delay is usually a diagnosis made by a doctor based on strict guidelines.

    Direct Instruction
    A method for teaching that provides consistent interaction between students and the teacher.

    The process of differentiating between and/or among separate stimuli when either visually or auditorially.

    Due Process
    A defined procedure to settle a dispute between the parent and the school.

    A language processing disorder characterized by a difficulty in reading experienced by students who otherwise possess the intelligence and motivation considered necessary for accurate and fluent reading.

    Educational Evaluation
    An assessment of a student based on multiple tests, analysis of class work, classroom observation, and teacher input intended to determine levels of achievement in certain academic areas, as well as the student’s learning style and perceptual abilities.


    Expressive Language
    Communication through speech, writing, and/or gestures.

    Extended School Year
    Extended school year services during the summer months is considered and discussed at the annual IEP review meeting. Special education and related services that are provided to a student with a disability beyond the normal school year in accordance with the student’s IEP.

    Fine Motor Skills
    The use of small muscles to complete precise tasks such as writing, drawing, buttoning, opening jars, and assembling puzzles.

    Functional Behavior Assessment
    A process to determine which behaviors are limiting educational progress; to design interventions that decrease target behaviors; and to promote appropriate behavior(s) through positive behavioral supports.

    Gross Motor Skills
    The use of large muscles for activities involving strength and balance, such as walking, running and climbing.

    IEP Team
    The group of individuals who are responsible for the development, review and revision of the student’s individualized education program.

    In Class Support
    Programs taught with the regular classroom teacher and the special education teacher; the student has to meet the regular education curriculum requirements for the grade or subject being taught; there will be modification to the instructional strategies or testing procedures which should be listed in the student’s IEP.

    The practice of placing a student who has special education needs into general education classrooms for a least part of the student’s educational program.

    Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
    The written educational program designed for each classified student, incorporating certain information such as educational goals (long-term and short-term), the duration of the program, and provisions for evaluating the program’s effectiveness and the student’s performance.

    Learning Styles
    The ways in which a student best understands and retains learning, e.g., vision, hearing, movement, kinesthetic, or a combination. Learning style-specific approaches to assessment or instruction emphasize the variations in temperament, attitude, and preferred reflective/impulsive, or verbal/spatial dimensions.

    Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
    To the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities are educated with students who are not disabled and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of students with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature and severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

    The practice of placing a student who has special education needs into regular education classrooms for at least part of the student’s educational program.

    Manifestation Determination
    In connection with the discipline of students with disabilities, a determination whether or not the misconduct at issue was either a manifestation of the disability or the result of an inappropriate placement.

    Neurological Evaluation
    An examination that specifically focuses on mental status, cranial nerves, motor functions, deep tendon reflexes, sensation and gait abilities; when used more in a psychiatric context, also refers to an examination of an individual's thinking ability.

    Pre-Referral Process
    A procedure in which staff members and parents develop intervention strategies to assist a student who is having difficulty in learning, behavior or socialization to function in the regular education classroom.

    Psychiatric Evaluation
    An evaluation designed to diagnose any number of emotional, behavioral, or developmental disorders. An evaluation of a child or adolescent is made based on behaviors present and in relation to physical, genetic, environmental, social, cognitive (thinking), emotional, and educational components that may be affected as a result of the behaviors presented.

    Psychological Evaluation
    The evaluation of a student’s intellectual, behavioral, social, and emotional characteristics by a certified school psychologist.

    Related Services
    Services that are provided to help classified students to benefit from special education. The services are specified in the student’s IEP and are provided in conjunction with the special education program. Some examples of related services include: counseling services, occupational therapy, physical therapy, parent training, social work, speech/language services, transportation.

    Resource Center Replacement Programs
    The subject is taught by the special education teacher. The resource center instruction includes individual and small group instruction.

    Response to Intervention (RTI)
    The Response to Intervention (RTI) model for school-age children who are at-risk for learning disabilities emphasizes pre-referral prevention and intervention. RTI can be distinguished from traditional methods of identifying learning disabilities in that it allows early and intensive interventions based on learning characteristics and does not wait for children to fail before providing necessary services and supports. The major premise of RTI is that early intervening services can both prevent academic problems for many students who experience learning difficulties and determine which students actually have learning disabilities, as distinct from those whose underachievement can be attributed to other factors such as inadequate instruction.

    Although several variations of the model have been proposed, in general RTI is based upon three components:

    a. the use of multiple tiers of increasingly intense interventions;
    b. a problem-solving approach to identify and evaluate instructional strategies; and
    c. an integrated data collection and assessment system to monitor student progress and guide decisions at every level.

    Section 504
    A federal law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal funds from the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Section 504 provides: "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance . . ."

    Self Contained Programs
    Taught by the special education teacher, this is considered a special class program that serves students with similar educational needs; instruction is usually provided with an alternative curriculum based upon the nature or severity of the student’s disability and in accordance with the student’s IEP goals and objectives.

    Supported Instruction
    The support of a student’s education in the general education class by a paraprofessional.

    A coordinated set of activities for a student, designed within an outcome-oriented process, that promotes movement from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary education, vocational training, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation. Transition services for students with disabilities may be special education, if provided as specially designed instruction, or related services, if required to assist a student with a disability to benefit from special education.

    Traumatic Brain Injury
    The physical damage to brain tissue or structure that occurs before, during, or after birth that is verified by EEG, MRI, CAT, or a similar examination rather than by observation or performance.

    Vocational Assessment
    Assessment to determine the eligibility and appropriate programming for students receiving vocational education, including assessment of skills, aptitudes, interests, work ethic and social skills.