Changes in how test is administered that do not substantially alter what the test measures; includes changes in presentation format, response format, test setting or test timing. Appropriate accommodations are made to level the playing field, i.e., to provide equal opportunity to demonstrate knowledge.

Achievement Test

Test that measures competency in a particular area of knowledge or skill; measures mastery or acquisition of skills.

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)

Legislation enacted to prohibit discrimination based on disability.

Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)

Child with ADD or ADHD may be eligible for special education under other health impairment, specific learning disability, and/or emotional disturbance categories if ADD/ADHD condition adversely affects educational performance.

Appendix A

Appendix to the federal special education regulations that answers questions about IEPs, IEP teams, parental role, transition.


Systematic method of obtaining information from tests or other sources; procedures used to determine child's eligibility, identify the child's strengths and needs, and services child needs to meet these needs.

Assistive Technology Device

Equipment used to maintain or improve the capabilities of a child with a disability.


Related service; includes identification, determination of hearing loss, and referral for habilitation of hearing.


Developmental disability that affects communication and social interaction, adversely affects educational performance, is generally evident before age 3. Children with autism often engage in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resist environmental change or change in daily routines, and have unusual responses to sensory experiences.


    Basic Skills

    Skills in subjects like reading, writing, spelling, and mathematics.

    Behavior Disorder (BD)

    See Emotional Disturbance.

    Behavior Intervention Plan

    A plan of positive behavioral interventions in the IEP of a child whose behaviors interfere with his/her learning or that of others.


    Calendar Day

    See Day.

    Case Law

    Decisions issued by a court.

    Child Find

    Requirement that states ensure that all children with disabilities are identified, located and evaluated, and determine which children are receiving special education and related services.


    Code of Federal Regulations in US law.


    Legal document that outlines plaintiff's claim against a defendant.

    Confidential File

    File maintained by the school that contains evaluations conducted to determine whether child is handicapped, other information related to special education placement; parents have a right to inspect the file and have copies of any information contained in it.


    Requirement that the parent be fully informed of all information that relates to any action that school wants to take about the child, that parent understands that consent is voluntary and may be revoked at any time. See also Procedural Safeguards Notice and Prior Written Notice.

    Controlled Substance

    Means a drug or other substance identified under schedules I, II, III, IV, or V of the Controlled Substances Act; does not include a substance that is legally possessed or used under the supervision of a licensed health care provider.

    Counseling Services

    Related service; includes services provided by social workers, psychologists, guidance counselors, or other qualified personnel.

    Cumulative File

    General file maintained by the school; parents have the right to inspect the file and have copies of any information contained in it.



    Monetary compensation that may be recovered by a person who has suffered loss, detriment or injury to his person, property or rights, through the unlawful act or negligence of another; damages are not generally available under the IDEA.


    Means calendar day unless otherwise indicated as school day or business day.


    IDEA disability category; includes hearing and visual impairments that cause severe communication, developmental and educational problems that adversely affects educational performance.


    IDEA disability category; impairment in processing information through hearing that adversely affects educational performance.


    In Section 504 and ADA, defined as impairment that substantially affects one or more major life activities; an individual who has a record of having such impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.


    Term for methods of obtaining evidence in advance of trial; includes interrogatories, depositions and inspection of documents.

    Due Process Hearing (Impartial Due Process Hearing)

    Procedure to resolve disputes between parents and schools; administrative hearing before an impartial hearing officer or administrative law judge.


    Early Intervention (EI)

    Special education and related services provided to children under the age of 5.

    Education Records

    All records about the student that are maintained by an educational agency or institution; includes instructional materials, teacher's manuals, films, tapes, test materials and protocols.

    Educational Consultant/Diagnostician

    An individual who may be familiar with school curriculum and requirements at various grade levels: may or may not have a background in learning disabilities; may conduct educational evaluations.

    Emotional Disturbance (ED)

    Disability category under IDEA; includes depression, fears, schizophrenia; adversely affects educational performance.


    Educable Mentally Retarded.


    Extended School Year services.



    Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act; statute about confidentiality and access to education records.


    Free Appropriate Public Education; special education and related services provided in conformity with an IEP; are without charge; and meets standards of the SEA.


    General Curriculum

    Curriculum adopted by LEA or SEA for all children from preschool through high school.


    Hearing Impairment

    Disability category under IDEA; permanent or fluctuating impairment in hearing that adversely affects educational performance.



    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997.


    Individuals with Disabilities Law Reporter; a US government publication.


    Independent Educational Evaluation.


    Individualized Educational Plan.


    Individualized Family Service Plan.

    Illegal Drug

    A controlled substance; does not include substances that are legally possessed or used under the supervision of a licensed health-care professional.

    Impartial Due Process Hearing

    See Due Process Hearing.

    Intellectual Disability

    Disability category under IDEA refers to significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning with deficits in adaptive behavior that adversely affects educational performance. Formerly called Mental Retardation.


    Practice of educating children with special needs in regular education classrooms in neighborhood schools. See also Mainstreaming and Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).


    Individual Transition Plan.



    Order by a court.



    Learning Disability

    See Specific Learning Disability (SLD).


    Least Restrictive Environment; requirement to educate special needs children with children who are not disabled to the maximum extent possible. Also referred to as Inclusion or Mainstreaming.


    Local Education Agency (School District).



    Practice of placing special needs children in regular classrooms for at least a part of the children's educational program. See also Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) and Inclusion.

    Manifestation Determination Review

    If a child with a disability engages in behavior or breaks a rule or code of conduct that applies to nondisabled children and the school proposes to remove the child, the school must hold a hearing to determine if the child's behavior was caused by the disability.


    Procedural safeguard to resolve disputes between parents and schools; must be voluntary, cannot be used to deny or delay right to a due process hearing; must be conducted by a qualified and impartial mediator who is trained in effective mediation techniques.

    Medical Services

    Related service; includes services provided by a licensed physician to determine a child's medically related disability that results in the child's need for special education and related services.

    Mental Retardation

    See Intellectual Disability.


    Substantial changes in what the student is expected to demonstrate; includes changes in instructional level, content, and performance criteria, may include changes in test form or format; includes alternate assessments.

    Multiple Disabilities

    Disability category under IDEA; concomitant impairments (such as mental retardation-blindness, mental retardation-orthopedic impairment, etc.) that cause such severe educational problems that problems cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments; does not include deaf-blindness.


    Native Language

    See Standardized Test.

    Norm-referenced Test

    Language normally used by the child's parents.



    U.S. Office of Civil Rights.

    Occupational Therapy

    Related service; includes therapy to remediate fine motor skills.

    Orientation and Mobility Services

    Related service; includes services to visually impaired students that enable students to move safely at home, school, and community.

    Orthopedic Impairment

    Disability category under IDEA; orthopedic impairment that adversely affects child's educational performance.


    U.S. Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.


    U.S. Office of Special Education Programs.

    Other Health Impairment

    Disability category under IDEA; refers to limited strength, vitality or alertness due to chronic or acute health problems that adversely affects educational performance.



    Parent, guardian, or surrogate parent; may include grandparent or stepparent with whom a child lives, and foster parent.

    Physical Therapy

    Related service; includes therapy to remediate gross motor skills.

    Prior Written Notice

    Required written notice to parents when school proposes to initiate or change, or refuses to initiate or change, the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of 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.

    Psychological Services

    Related service; includes administering psychological and educational tests, interpreting test results, interpreting child behavior related to learning.

    Public Law (PL) 94-142

    The Education for All Handicapped Children Act; enacted into law in 1975




    Related service; includes therapeutic recreation services, recreation programs, and leisure education.

    Rehabilitation Act of 1973

    Civil rights statute designed to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination; purposes are to maximize employment, economic self-sufficiency, independence, inclusion and integration into society.

    Rehabilitation Counseling Services

    Related service; includes career development, preparation for employment, vocational rehabilitation services funded under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

    Related Services

    Services that are necessary for child to benefit from special education; includes speech-language pathology and audiology services, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, early identification and assessment, counseling, rehabilitation counseling, orientation and mobility services, school health services, social work services, parent counseling and training.


    Process by which an individual receives instruction and practice in skills that are weak or nonexistent in an effort to develop/strengthen these skills.


    School Day

    A day when children attend school for instructional purposes.

    School Health Services

    Related service; services provided by a qualified school nurse or other qualified person.

    Section 504

    Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination due to disability by recipients of federal financial assistance.

    Special Education

    Specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.

    Specific Learning Disability (SLD)

    Disability category under IDEA; includes disorders that affect the ability to understand or use spoken or written language; may manifest in difficulties with listening, thinking, speaking, reading, writing, spelling, and doing mathematical calculations; includes minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.

    Speech-language Pathology Services

    Related service; includes identification and diagnosis of speech or language impairments, speech or language therapy, counseling and guidance.

    Speech or Language Impairment

    Disability category under IDEA; includes communication disorders, language impairments, voice impairments that adversely educational performance.

    Standardized Test

    Norm-referenced test that compares child's performance with the performance of a large group of similar children (usually children who are the same age).

    State Education Agency (SEA)

    State departments of education.

    Statutory Law

    Written law enacted by legislative bodies.

    Supplementary Aids and Services

    Aids, services, and supports that are provided in regular education classes that enable children with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled children to the maximum extent appropriate.



    See Assistive Technology Device.


    Official record taken during a trial or hearing by an authorized stenographer.

    Transition Services

    IEP requirement; designed to facilitate movement from school to the workplace or to higher education.


    Related service about travel; includes specialized equipment (i.e., special or adapted buses, lifts, and ramps) if required to provide special transportation for a child with a disability.

    Traumatic Brain Injury

    Disability category under IDEA; includes acquired injury caused by external physical force and open or closed head injuries that result in impairments; does not include congenital or degenerative brain injuries or brain injuries caused by birth trauma.

    Travel Training

    See Orientation and Mobility Services.



    United States Code, refers to laws that are codified so reference can be made to the chapters and sections.


    Visual Impairment Including Blindness

    Disability category under IDEA; impaired vision that adversely affects educational performance.



    Means a "dangerous weapon" as defined in the United States Code.




    NOTICE: Some of the terms found on this page come from www.fetaweb.com.