What does that mean?Educational terms, specifically those related to special education can be overwhelming to parents and to professionals. Below is a listing of frequently used acronyms associated with special education. Parents are encouraged to ask questions during meetings if they are unsure about the meaning of an acronym.
(ABA) Applied Behavioral Analysis
The science and discipline devoted to understanding and improving human behavior by applying basic behavioral principles to learning and teaching.
(ADA) Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, State and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation.
(ADD) Attention Deficit Disorder
A developmental disorder that is marked especially by persistent symptoms of inattention (such as distractibility, forgetfulness, or disorganization) or by symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity (such as fidgeting, speaking out of turn, or restlessness) or by symptoms of all three and that is not caused by any serious underlying physical or mental disorder.
(ADHD) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
ADHD is a chronic condition marked by persistent inattention, hyperactivity, and sometimes impulsivity. ADHD begins in childhood and often lasts into adulthood.
(ALD) Assisted Listening Device
Any and all types of devices that increase the sound and aid in the understanding of speech. These devices may include personal hearing aids, frequency modulation (FM) systems, induction loop systems, infrared, special inputs for telephone or television and amplified alarms and signals.
(APS) Approved Private School
Approved Private Schools (APSs) are private schools, licensed by the State Board of Private Academic Schools.
(ASD) Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder is a serious neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs a child's ability to communicate and interact with others. It also includes restricted repetitive behaviors, interests and activities. These issues cause significant impairment in social, occupational and other areas of functioning.
(ASL) American Sign Language
A visual-gestural language produced on the hands, face, and body. It is not derived from spoken language and it differs from English in vocabulary, grammar, and inflection. Non-manual markers, such as use of space, facial expression, body movement, body posture, directionality, and rate of sign, contribute to the meaning of the message. ASL is used in the United States and in some parts of Canada.
(AVTS) Area Vocational Technical School
A vocational school, sometimes called a trade school or vocational college, is a type of educational institution, which education is designed to provide vocational education, or technical skills required to perform the tasks of a particular and specific job.
(AYP) Adequate Yearly Progress
A measurement defined by the United States Federal No Child Left Behind Act that allows the U.S. Department of Education to determine how every public school and school district in the country is performing academically according to results on standardized tests.
(BEC) Basic Education Circular
Policy briefs issued by Pennsylvania’s Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. BECs can be accessed on the PDE website.
(BIP) Behavior Intervention Plan
A behavioral intervention plan is a plan that is based on the results of a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) and, at a minimum, includes a description of the problem behavior, global and specific hypotheses as to why the problem behavior occurs and intervention strategies that include positive behavioral supports and services to address the behavior.
(BSE) Bureau of Special Education
A branch within the Pennsylvania Department of Education that provides oversight to special education departments across the state of Pennsylvania.
(CBA) Curriculum-Based Assessment
The term curriculum-based assessment (CBA) means simply measurement that uses direct observation and recording of a student's performance in the local curriculum as a basis for gathering information to make instructional decisions.
(CERC) Corrections Education Records Center
Students enter the county prisons, state juvenile and adult correctional institutions through the county court system or inter-institutional transfers. Timely access to accurate academic records is necessary for placing students in the appropriate educational programs. To facilitate this, the Records Center project began in January 1993. The Records Center is an avenue that schools may use to help expedite the retrieval of educational records. The Records Center ensures quick retrieval of academic records to prevent repeated screening and assessments, and shortens the delay in transferring records from various educational agencies.
(CTC) Career and Technical Education Center
Career and technical education is a term applied to schools, institutions, and educational programs that specialize in the skilled trades, applied sciences, modern technologies, and career preparation.
(DIBELS) Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills
The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) are a set of procedures and measures for assessing the acquisition of early literacy skills from kindergarten through sixth grade. They are designed to be short (one minute) fluency measures used to regularly monitor the development of early literacy and early reading skills.
(DPW) Department of Public Welfare
Department of Public Welfare, the agency responsible for provision of early interventions services from birth to three years of age.
(ED) Emotional Disturbance
A condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child’s educational performance:
(A) An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors.
(B) An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.
(C) Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.
(D) A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.
(E) A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.
(EI) Early Intervention
A collection of services and/or supports for eligible children from birth to the age of beginners, designed to provide stimulation and education.
(ELL) English Language Learners
ELLs are students whose first language is not English and who are in the process of learning English. (See also LEP.) In Pennsylvania, a three-question Home Language Survey is used to identify those students who may be in need of ESL instruction. A yes answer to one or more questions means the student is given an assessment to determine the language services he or she may need. If identified as needing ESL instruction, the student may receive services in an ESL or bilingual program.
(ER) Evaluation Report
A report that summarizes the findings of the multidisciplinary evaluation and includes a determination of eligibility for early intervention services, as well as recommendations for supports if the child is found eligible.
(ESL) English as a Second Language
English as a Second Language (ESL) is an educational approach in which English Language Learners (ELLs) are instructed in the use of the English language. Their instruction is based on a special curriculum that involves little or no use of the English language, focuses on language (as opposed to content), and is usually taught during specific school periods. For the rest of the school day, students remain in general education classrooms, an immersion program, or a bilingual program.
(ESOL) English for Speakers for Other Languages
ESOL is an English language development program for Kindergarten to Grade 12 students whose home/native/primary language is a language other than English. The program focuses on developing their proficiency in processing and producing academic English language.
(ESY) Extended School Year
ESY services are designed to support a student with a disability as documented under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to maintain the academic, social/behavioral, communication, or other skills that they have learned as part of their Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 accommodation plan.
(FAPE) Free Appropriate Public Education
FAPE is an educational right of children with disabilities in the United States that is guaranteed by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
(FBA) Functional Behavioral Assessment
An analysis of challenging behaviors designed to determine what human or environment factors are causing the behavior to occur and continue, and can be used to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of behavior intervention plans.
(FERPA) Family Educational Rights Privacy Act
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
(IDEA) Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is the federal law that provides for special education and early intervention services for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and children.
(IEE) Independent Educational Evaluation
An independent educational evaluation is an evaluation of a child that is done by a person who does not work for the child's school district, public charter school, or intermediate unit (IU).
(IEP) Individualized Education Program
A written plan for the provision of appropriate early intervention services to an eligible young child, including services to enable the family to enhance their child’s development. It is based on and responsive to the evaluation. The IEP identifies the child’s educational levels, learning strengths and needs, annual goals and objectives, specially designed instruction and the special education and related services necessary to support the child’s learning and development. An individualized education program (IEP) is a written agreement for each child with a disability that describes the student’s special educational program. Each IEP is a legal document that spells out, among other things, the special education services, as well as activities and supports each student will receive.
(LEA) Local Educational Agency
A term for a public organization – such as a school district, charter school, or intermediate unit – that serves students with disabilities.
(LEP) Limited English Proficiency
LEP is the term used by the federal government, most states, and local school districts to identify those students who are acquiring the English language skills needed to succeed in English-only classrooms.
(LRE) Least Restrictive Environment
IDEA defines least restrictive environment as education provided to children, to the greatest extent appropriate, with their non-disabled peers. The rules about placement further encourage that students be placed in the general program in their neighborhood schools, unless it is not appropriate for meeting their individual needs.
(MA) Medical Assistance
Medical Assistance, also known as Medicaid, and sometimes referred to as MA, pays for health care services for eligible individuals.
(MD) Multiple Disabilities
Multiple disabilities means associated impairments (such as mental retardation blindness, mental retardation-orthopedic impairment, etc.), the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments.
(MDT) Multidisciplinary Team
A multidisciplinary team is a group of health care workers who are members of different disciplines (professions e.g. Psychiatrists, Social Workers, etc.), each providing specific services to the student. The team members independently treat various issues a student may have, focusing on the issues in which they specialize. The activities of the team are brought together using a care plan. This co-ordinates their services and gets the team working together towards a specific set of goals.
(NCLB) No Child Left Behind
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) was a U.S. Act of Congress that reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; it included Title I provisions applying to disadvantaged students.
(NOREP) Notice of Recommended Educational Placement
Once the IEP team has worked out an educational program and placement for the student, the school district must give or send the parent a written notice formally recommending the IEP and placement of the student. In Pennsylvania, this notice is called a Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (or NOREP).
(O & M) Orientation and Mobility
Focuses on instructing individuals who are blind or visually impaired with safe and effective travel through their environment.
(OCD) Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
OCD is a mental disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), and behaviors that drive them to do something over and over (compulsions). Often the person carries out the behaviors to get rid of the obsessive thoughts.
(ODD) Oppositional Defiant Disorder
A childhood disorder that is characterized by negative, defiant, disobedient and often hostile behavior toward adults and authority figures primarily. In order to be diagnosed, the behaviors must occur for at least a period of 6 months.
(OSEP) Office of Special Education Programs
The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is dedicated to improving results for children and youth with disabilities ages birth through 21 by providing leadership and financial support to assist states and local districts.
(OT) Occupational Therapy
Services provided by a qualified, licensed occupational therapist that focus on preventing and improving the skill-deficits that affect all aspects of independent functional skills in students.
(OVR) Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
The Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, or OVR, provides vocational rehabilitation services to help persons with disabilities prepare for, obtain, or maintain employment. OVR provides services to eligible individuals with disabilities, both directly and through a network of approved vendors.
(PASA) Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment
The Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA) is a statewide alternate assessment designed for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Specifically, it is intended for those who are unable to participate meaningfully in the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) even with accommodations.
(PaTTAN) Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network
The Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) provides a full array of professional development and technical assistance targeted to improving student results.
(PDD) Pervasive Developmental Disorder
PDD refers to the class of conditions to which autism belongs. PDD is NOT itself a diagnosis.
(PDD-NOS) Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified
A pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) is one of the four autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and also one of the five disorders classified as a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD).
(PDE) Pennsylvania Department of Education
The Pennsylvania Department of Education is the executive department of the state charged with publicly funded preschool, K-12 and adult educational budgeting, management and guidelines. As the state education agency, its activities are directed by the governor appointed Pennsylvania's Secretary of Education.
(PSSA) Pennsylvania State System of Assessment
The annual Pennsylvania System School Assessment is a standards-based, criterion-referenced assessment which provides students, parents, educators and citizens with an understanding of student and school performance related to the attainment of proficiency of the academic standards. These standards in English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science and Technology identify what a student should know and be able to do at varying grade levels.
(PT) Physical Therapy
Services provided by a qualified, licensed physical therapist that focus on preventing and improving muscular and motor skill deficits, and restoring the independent functional skills of students.
(RTI) Response to Intervention
RTI is a multi-tier approach to the early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs. The RTI process begins with high-quality instruction and universal screening of all children in the general education classroom.
(SBBH) School Based Behavioral Health
Provides school based mental health services to students with a severe emotional and/or behavioral problem that interfere with their learning.
(SDI) Specially Designed Instruction
SDI means adapting, as appropriate, to the needs of an eligible child under this part, the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction to address the unique needs of a child that results from the child's disability; and to ensure access of the child to the general curriculum, so that he or she can meet the educational standards adopted by the State.
(SEA) State Educational Agency
Is a state-level government agency responsible for providing information, resources, and technical assistance on educational matters to schools and residents.
(SLD) Specific Learning Disability
A disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. It does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of: visual, hearing, or motor disabilities; intellectual disability; serious emotional disability; cultural factors; environmental or economic disadvantage; or limited English proficiency.
(STL) Short Term Loan
PaTTAN‘s program for loaning assistive technology devices and materials for evaluation.
(SWPBIS) Schoolwide Positive Behavior Interventions and Support
Refers to a systems change process for an entire school or district. The underlying theme is teaching behavioral expectations in the same manner as any core curriculum subject.
(TBI) Traumatic Brain Injury
TBI is damage to the brain, not of a degenerative or congenital nature, but caused by external physical force that may produce a diminished or altered state of consciousness, which results in an impairment of cognitive abilities or physical functioning.
(TDD) Telecommunication Device for the Deaf
TDD is a teleprinter, an electronic device for text communication over a telephone designed for use by persons with hearing or speech difficulties.
(TSS) Therapeutic Staff Support
TSS services are delivered in the home and community as part of a child or adolescent’s daily routine. They are designed to provide active, individualized treatment to the child or adolescent. They require careful and constant review to determine their effectiveness and the need for modification to meet the ever-changing needs of the child and the family.
(VI) Visual ImpairmentVisual impairment, also known as vision impairment or vision loss, is a decreased ability to see to a degree that causes problems not fixable by usual means, such as glasses.