This glossary defines words and terms that you may hear used to describe your child or your child’s education. Different school districts may use these words slightly differently. Feel free to ask about the meaning of words used. It is helpful to make sure that everyone involved has the same understanding of important terms. These words are bolded on this website.
Academic—Having to do with school subjects such as reading, writing, math, social studies, and science.
Access Points—Academic expectations written specifically for students with significant cognitive disabilities. As part of the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards, access points reflect the essence or core intent of the standards that apply to all students in the same grade, but at reduced levels of complexity.
Accommodation—A different way of doing something that takes into account a student’s disability. For example, when a student with visual impairment studies by listening to a recording of a textbook, the student is using an accommodation. Accommodations are changes in how a student is taught or tested. Accommodations do not change the requirements of a course or the standards the student must meet. Compare to "modification."
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)—The person who is in charge of a due process hearing and
who makes the decisions after the hearing. The administrative law judge cannot work for the local school district. In Florida, administrative law judges are employed by the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) of the Florida Department of Management Services. The administrative law judge cannot know the student or be a friend or relative of the family. They must be impartial—fair to both parents and the school district.
Age of Majority—The age when a person becomes a legal adult. The rights of the parent of a student with a disability transfer to the student when the student reaches the age of majority. In Florida, this is 18 years of age, unless the student has been declared incompetent under state law or has a guardian advocate who has been appointed to make educational decisions. See also "transfer of rights."
Age-Appropriate—Describes materials, activities, and experiences that are useful and suitable for persons of a particular age. For example, age-appropriate books for a teenager are different than age-appropriate books for a seven-year-old, even if the teenager reads on a second-grade level.
Age-Appropriate Transition Assessment—The collection of data on the student’s needs, preferences, and interests. Florida uses the following definition for transition assessment: "Transition assessment is the ongoing process of collecting data on the individual’s needs, preferences, and interests as they relate to the demands of current and future working, educational, living, and personal and social environments. Assessment data serve as the common thread in the transition process and form the basis for defining goals and services to be included in the Individualized Education Program." - (Sitlington, Neubert, and Leconte 1997)
Alternate Assessment—An assessment used for a student with a disability when a standard state- or district-wide assessment is not appropriate for that student. See "assessment."
Annual Goal—See "measurable annual goal."
Appeal—A written request for a court to review the decision of an administrative law judge in a due process hearing.
Assessment—A way of collecting information about what a student knows and can do and what a student still needs to learn. Assessments may include giving tests, observing the student, and looking at the student’s portfolio or work samples.
Assistive Technology (AT)—Assistive technology devices and/or services. See below.
Assistive Technology Device—Equipment that helps a person with a disability maintain, increase, or improve their ability to do something.
Assistive Technology Service—A service that directly helps a person with a disability select, buy, or use an assistive technology device. This includes evaluating assistive technology needs; purchasing equipment; selecting, fitting, and repairing equipment; and training the person, family, teachers, employers, and others in the use of the equipment.
Autism Spectrum Disorder—A person who has an autism spectrum disorder has trouble communicating and interacting with others. The person may also repeat patterns of behaviors and activities. In order to qualify for programs and services for students with autism spectrum disorder, a student must meet all the requirements listed in the Florida State Board of Education Rules.
Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)—A plan that helps a student with a disability reduce their problem behaviors. The BIP includes strategies the student will be taught that will allow them to stop the problem behaviors or replace them with other behaviors. The BIP also explains how to determine the student’s progress in reducing the problem behavior.
Benchmarks—Statements on the IEP that describe major milestones a student must reach in order to achieve one of their "measurable annual goals." See also "short-term objectives."
Career Education—Instruction and experiences designed to make students aware of the broad range of available careers, teach them general job preparatory skills, and offer them courses of study that allow them to develop skills needed for specific careers. May include career exploration courses, practical arts courses, diversified cooperative education, work experience, job entry programs, and on-the-job training.
Certificate of Completion—The certificate given to students who pass the required courses in high school but do not pass the state graduation test or achieve the grade-point average required for a standard diploma.
Change of Placement—A change in the type of placement listed on the IEP of a student with a disability. This includes a change from a more restrictive placement to a less restrictive placement, or vice versa. Any change of placement must be decided during an IEP meeting.
Community-Based Instruction (CBI)—Instruction that takes place in locations in the community and is designed to help students perform skills such as grocery shopping and using public transportation. CBI often includes training in the classroom followed by practice in community settings. Often CBI is used to ensure that students can apply skills and knowledge learned through the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards Access Points in the community.
Compensatory Services—Services that a school district provides to a student in order to make up for services not provided in the past.
Complaint—A parent’s formal written claim that a school district has violated a law related to the education of students with disabilities.
Confidential—Private, not to be seen by others. School records are confidential, so they may only be read or used by school staff, parents, and others who are allowed by law to see them.
Consent—A parent’s permission to let the school take an action that affects their child’s education. Usually, the parent signs a form to show that they give consent.
Courses of Study—The types of courses a student plans to take in order to reach their measurable postsecondary goals. For the purposes of transition "courses of study" describes the student’s instructional program. For example, the student will take advanced placement courses leading to a standard diploma; or the student will participate in community-based instruction and career placement leading to a special diploma.
Cumulative—Added together. If a student is suspended for three days in October, five days in January, and two days in May, the student has been suspended for 10 cumulative days.
Daily Living Skills—Skills necessary to take care of one’s personal needs as independently as possible. Examples include dressing for work, renting an apartment, and buying a bus pass.
Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing (DHH)—A person who is deaf or hard-of-hearing has lost some or all of the ability to hear. In order to qualify for programs and services for students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, a student must meet all the requirements listed in the Florida State Board of Education Rules.
Developmentally Delayed (DD)—A child age three to five who has a developmental delay is developing more slowly than their peers in a developmental area such as self-help skills, communication, cognitive abilities, social/emotional skills, or physical/motor development. In order to qualify for programs and services for students with developmental delays, a student must meet all the requirements listed in the Florida State Board of Education Rules.
Disability—A condition that makes it hard for a person to learn or do things in the same ways as most other people. A disability may be temporary or permanent.
Dismissal—A decision to end ESE services because the student no longer has a disability or no longer needs those services. The IEP team reviews evaluations and other information about the student before making this decision. Parents receive written notice before services are stopped.
Dual-Sensory Impaired (DSI)—A person with dual-sensory impairment has trouble both seeing and hearing such that the person needs services that address both areas of sensory impairment. In order to qualify for programs and services for students who have dual-sensory impairments, a student must meet all the requirements listed in the Florida State Board of Education Rules.
Due Process Hearing—A formal meeting held to settle a disagreement between a parent and school district about the evaluation, qualifications, placement, services, or IEP of a child with a disability. An administrative law judge runs the meeting.
Duration—An IEP includes the amount of ESE services a student will get. "Duration" is the length of time a student with a disability is expected to get a service during the school year or extended school year.
Eligibility Criteria—The requirements a child must meet to qualify for each exceptionality category (program). The eligibility criteria for each exceptionality category are listed in the Florida State Board of Education Rules.
Eligibility Staffing—A meeting at which parents and school staff members decide if a student qualifies for ESE services. This decision is based on evaluation reports and other information. To qualify, the student must meet the requirements listed in the Florida State Board of Education Rules.
Eligible—Refers to a student who meets the requirements for and is in need of ESE services. The decision is based on the Florida State Board of Education Rules.
Emotional—Having to do with feelings and the way one responds to and expresses feelings.
Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities (E/BD)—A person who has an emotional or behavioral disability has behaviors and/or emotional responses that cannot be explained by age, culture, gender, or physical reasons and that make it hard for the student to learn. In order to qualify for programs and services for students who have emotional/behavioral disabilities, a student must meet all the requirements listed in the Florida State Board of Education Rules.
Employability Skills—Skills necessary to get and keep a job. These are not technical skills but social and behavioral skills that help a person work well with others, communicate with others, follow directions, be on time for work, etc.
End-of-Course (EOC) Assessments—End-of-course assessments are tests designed to measure students’ achievement of the standards for specific high-school-level courses.
ESE—See "exceptional student education."
ESE Administrator—The person that heads up the school district’s ESE programs. This person works for the whole school district, not just one school.
Evaluation—A way of collecting information about a student’s learning needs, strengths, and interests. It is used to help decide whether a student has a disability and qualifies for ESE programs and services. It may include giving individual tests, observing the student, looking at records, and talking with the student and parents.
Evidence—Materials (e.g., records, letters, notes, work samples) that are used by parents or school districts in a due process hearing to help show that their point of view is the right one.
Exceptional Student—A student who has special learning needs as described in the State Board of Education Rules. This includes students who have a disability. It also includes students who are gifted. A child does not have to be in school to be an "exceptional student."
Exceptional Student Education (ESE)—The name given in Florida to educational programs and services for students with special learning needs (including those who have disabilities and those who are gifted). It is sometimes called "special education."
Exceptionality—A disability or special learning need.
FAPE—See "free appropriate public education."
Florida Standards—A set of clear, consistent and strong academic standards that provide expectations for what every Florida student should be able to know and do to leave high school ready for college and career.
Formal Complaint—See "complaint."
Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)—The term used in the federal law (IDEA) to describe the right of a student with a disability to special services that will meet their individual learning needs at no cost to their parents.
Frequency—An IEP includes the amount of ESE services a student will get. "Frequency" is how often and/or how much service the student will get during the school year or extended school year.
Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA)—The process of gathering information about problem behaviors of a student with a disability. Information about when, where, and under what conditions the behaviors occur is included.
Functional Vocational Evaluation—An ongoing process that identifies a student’s career interests, work-related aptitudes and skills, and need for training. Florida uses the following definition for Functional Vocational Evaluation (FVE): "…a systematic assessment process used to identify practical, useable career and employment-related information about an individual. FVE incorporates multiple formal and informal assessment techniques to observe, describe, measure, and predict vocational potential. A distinctive feature of FVEs is that they include (and may emphasize) individualized experiential and performance-based opportunities, in natural vocational or work environments." (VECAP, 2009)
General Educational Development Diploma—A high school diploma earned by a student who is at least 18 years old and who passes the tests of general educational development. A GED diploma is issued by the State of Florida rather than the local school district.
General Curriculum—The academic content that most students without disabilities are studying. In Florida, the general curriculum is the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards, which describe what students are expected to know and be able to do at various points in their education.
General Education—The classes and activities most students participate in. It includes academic and vocational education.
Gifted—A student who is gifted learns more easily than other students. In order to qualify for programs and services for students who are gifted, a student must meet all the requirements listed in the Florida State Board of Education Rules.
Hearing Officer—See "administrative law judge."
Hospitalized or Homebound (H/H)—A student qualifies for this program when they must be taught at home or in a hospital for an extended period of time because of a severe illness, injury, or health problem. In order to qualify for programs and services for students who are hospitalized or homebound, a student must meet all the requirements listed in the Florida State Board of Education Rules.
IDEA—See "Individuals with Disabilities Education Act."
Identification—The decision that a student has a disability and what the disability is.
IEP—See "individual educational plan."
IEP Team Meeting—A meeting held at least every 12 months to write a student’s IEP. Changes in a student’s services or placement must be made at an IEP meeting.
IEP Review—A meeting held to discuss changing the IEP of a student with a disability. Any member of the IEP team, including the parent, may request an IEP review.
IFSP—See "individualized family support plan."
Impartial—Fair. An impartial person is one who does not take sides. For example, the person who runs a due process hearing must not work for the school district or be a friend of the parent.
Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)—An evaluation asked for by a student’s parents and done by someone who does not work for the school district. An IEE may be paid for by the school district or by the parent.
Independent Functioning—A person’s skills in meeting their own needs, such as feeding, dressing, and toileting; traveling safely; and using time management and organizational strategies.
Individual Educational Plan (IEP)—A written plan that describes the individual learning needs of a student with disabilities and the ESE services, supports, aids, and accommodations and modifications that will be provided to that student.
Individual Evaluation—See "evaluation."
Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP)—A written plan that describes the concerns and needs of the family related to the development of a child ages birth through two years who has a disability or developmental delay. It lists the services to be provided to the child and the family. An IFSP may also be used instead of an IEP for children who are three, four, or five years old.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)—The most important United States law regarding the education of students with disabilities.
Intellectual Disabilities (InD)—A student who has an intellectual disability learns more slowly than other students do. In order to qualify for programs and services for students with intellectual disabilities, a student must meet all the requirements listed in the Florida State Board of Education Rules.
Interagency Responsibilities—Services listed on an IEP that agencies have agreed to provide or help the school district provide.
Interventions—Strategies used to help a student make progress in learning or behavior.
Language Impairment—A disorder in one or more of the basic learning processes involved in understanding or using spoken or written language. In order to qualify for programs and services for students with language impairments, a student must meet all the requirements listed in the Florida State Board of Education Rules.
Learning Disability—See "specific learning disabilities."
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)—The school setting (placement) that allows a child with a disability to be educated to the greatest extent possible with children who do not have disabilities.
Linkages—Connections between students with disabilities and agencies that provide adult services.
Location—Where ESE services will be provided, such as a "general education classroom" or "ESE classroom."
Manifestation—If a student’s misbehavior is a result of their disability, the misbehavior is called a "manifestation" of the disability.
Manifestation Determination Review—A meeting at which a team decides if a student’s misbehavior is a result of their disability.
Matrix of Services—A funding document used in Florida to calculate the ESE cost factor that will apply to the services and supports provided to some students with disabilities.
Measurable Annual Goal—A statement in an IEP of what the student needs to learn and should be able to learn within one year.
Measurable Postsecondary Goals—Goals to address postsecondary education or training, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills. They must be measurable, intended to happen after the student graduates from school, and updated annually.
Mediation—A process in which parents and school personnel try to settle disagreements with the help of a person who has been trained to resolve conflicts.
Modification—A change in the requirements of a course or the standards a student must meet. A change in what the student is taught or tested on. The change is based on the student’s needs because of their disability. Compare with "accommodation."
Motor—Having to do with using the large and small muscles to move parts of the body. Examples of motor skills are walking, holding and moving a pencil, and opening a door.
Mutually Agreeable—Acceptable to both the parents and the school. IEP team meetings must be held at a time and place that is mutually agreeable.
Notice—A note or letter to parents about an action the school plans to take that will affect their child’s education.
Occupational Therapy (OT)—A related service for a student with a disability that helps them maintain, improve, restore, or develop skills needed for daily living, such as self-care and pre-employment skills. These skills will help the student benefit from ESE services. A licensed occupational therapist or licensed occupational therapy assistant provides the services.
On-the-Job Training (OJT)—Instruction that provides students with work experiences in order to help them acquire and apply knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to hold a job.
Orientation and Mobility Services—Services that help students with visual impairments learn to move around safely in the school, home, and community.
Orthopedic Impairment—A severe problem with a student’s skeletal, muscular, or neuromuscular system.
Other Health Impairments (OHI)—Health problems that affect a student’s strength, vitality, or alertness. In order to qualify for services for students with other health impairments, a student must meet all the requirements listed in the Florida State Board of Education Rules.
Participation—The act of sharing, joining, or working with others to make decisions or complete a task (such as writing an IEP).
Physical—Having to do with the use or well-being of the body. An example of a physical skill is being able to sit in a chair with good balance and posture.
Physical Therapy (PT)—A related service for a student with a disability that helps maintain, improve, restore, or develop their movements and coordination so that they can benefit from ESE services. A licensed physical therapist or licensed physical therapist assistant provides the service.
Placement—The type of setting in which the student will receive special services. The placement may include one, or more than one, classroom or other area in which the student will receive services for a particular amount of time.
Post-School Activities—Activities a student will pursue after finishing high school. Some post-school activities are postsecondary education, continuing and adult education, technical training, employment, adult services, independent living, recreation, and community participation.
Postsecondary Education—The next level of education after high school, such as college/university coursework or technical training.
Present Levels of Educational Performance—Statements in an IEP that describe what a student can do or what they know now.
Problem-Solving/Response to Intervention/Instruction (RtI)—RtI is a problem-solving process that matches resources to a student’s needs. It involves understanding where the student is struggling; designing a way to help the student (an intervention); monitoring how the student responds to the intervention; and changing, decreasing, or increasing the intensity of the intervention depending on how the student responds.
Procedural Safeguards—Requirements outlined in IDEA that give parents the rights to participate, have notice, and give permission (consent). The procedural safeguards also determine how parents and schools can resolve disputes through mediation, due process, or complaint procedures.
Reevaluation—A reevaluation that takes place after a student has already been receiving ESE services. A student with a disability must be reevaluated at least every three years, unless the parent and school district agree otherwise. The purpose of the reevaluation is to decide if the student still has a disability and if the services they receive are still appropriate.
Referral—A request that a child be given an individual evaluation. A parent, teacher, doctor, or anyone who has worked with the child may make the referral. Children do not have to be in school to be referred.
Related Services—Special help given to a student with a disability in addition to direct special education services. Related services help a student benefit from instruction. Examples of related services are special transportation, social work services, physical and occupational therapy, and the services of readers for the blind.
School Psychologist—A professional who conducts evaluations, especially intelligence testing. A school psychologist may also work with classroom teachers, parents, and school administrators on behavior assessments and behavior management.
School Social Worker—A professional who may provide services in the home, including parent-student conferences, family counseling, parent education, information and referral, social-developmental history, and behavior assessments. They also provide services in the school and community, including parent groups.
Self-Advocacy—Actions a person with a disability takes to be sure their needs are understood and met, their wishes are respected, and their rights are honored; such as speaking on one’s own behalf at an IEP meeting.
Self-Determination—Taking control and making decisions that affect one’s own life. Self-determination skills help students with disabilities make choices, set goals, and manage their own lives.
Self-Help—Having to do with skills that allow a student to do things for themselves. Examples of self-help skills are being able to dress or cross the street without help.
Sensory—Having to do with using the senses of hearing, seeing, touching (feeling), smelling, or tasting as a part of learning. An example of a sensory skill is being able to see the differences between letters of the alphabet.
Short-Term Objectives—Statements in an IEP that describe small, measurable steps a student must learn or master before they can reach one of their measurable annual goals. See also "benchmarks."
Situational Vocational Assessment—A system of observation used to gather information about a student’s work-related behavior in a work environment. Students are generally instructed to perform work-related tasks to determine such competencies as their ability to lift, ability to follow multi-step directions, mobility skills, and other related areas that are important in paid jobs.
Social—Having to do with a student’s ability to get along with other people–adults or children. An example of a social skill is being able to play well with other children.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)— Benefits paid to people who are disabled and who have work credits or who were disabled before age 22 and have an eligible (disabled or deceased) parent.
Special Education—See "exceptional student education."
Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD)—A student with a disorder in one or more basic learning processes involved in understanding or using spoken or written language. A student with SLD may have difficulties with listening, reading, writing, spelling, or doing mathematics. In order to qualify for programs and services for students who have specific learning disabilities, a student must meet all the requirements listed in the Florida State Board of Education Rules.
Speech Impairment—A student who has a speech impairment has difficulty speaking so that they can be understood. In order to qualify for programs and services for students with speech impairments, a student must meet all the requirements listed in the Florida State Board of Education Rules.
Speech-Language Pathologist—A professional trained to identify and treat communication disorders. Speech-language pathologists help students with speech-language disorders. They work with classroom teachers to help children with communication problems and to develop lessons on the communication process. They also work with parents to understand and help their children who have communication disorders.
Staffing—See "eligibility staffing."
Staffing Specialist—A person who guides the eligibility staffing meeting and makes sure that the requirements of the State Board of Education Rules are met.
Standard Diploma—The high school diploma granted to students who earn a specified number of credits and grade point average, meet the regular Next Generation Sunshine State Standards, and pass the state graduation test and required end-of-course exams. This is the general education diploma.
State Board of Education Rules—The rules developed to implement Florida’s laws related to education.
State of Florida High School Diploma—A diploma earned by a student who is at least 18 years old and who passes the tests of general educational development (GED).
Stay-Put Placement—A student’s current placement, which the student stays in while a disagreement is being resolved through a due process hearing.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) - Benefits paid to people with disabilities who have limited income. A child’s eligibility is based on the income of his or her parents. Children who were not eligible because their parents’ income was too high may become eligible once they reach age 18 and should reapply.
Supplementary Aids and Services—Aids and services provided in general education classes or other education-related settings to allow students with disabilities to be educated with students without disabilities. These are listed in the IEP.
Supports for School Personnel—Supports that allow a general education or ESE teacher to help a child progress in the general or special education curriculum. These supports are listed in the IEP.
Transfer of Rights—The shift of rights from the parent of a student with a disability to the student when they reach the "age of majority."
Transition—For students with disabilities, the process of getting ready to move from school to adult life. The process occurs over a period of several years and involves planning, goal setting, instruction, services, and activities designed to make that move successful.
Transition IEP—The IEP used for a student age 16 and older. The transition IEP helps prepare a student for life after school.
Transition IEP Meeting—An IEP team meeting for a student age 16 or older. A major purpose of this meeting is to help plan the young person’s move into adult life.
Transition Services—Activities that help a student move from school to post-school activities.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)—An injury to the brain as the result of an outside force to the head. In order to qualify for services for students with traumatic brain injury, a student must meet all the requirements listed in the Florida State Board of Education Rules.
Visual Impairment (VI)—A student with a visual impairment has a loss of some or all of the ability to see. This includes students who are blind or partially sighted. In order to qualify for programs and services for students who have visual impairments, a student must meet all the requirements listed in the Florida State Board of Education Rules.
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