Special Education Terms

Glossary of Terms

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR): also known simply as dispute resolution or procedural safeguards; options for resolving disagreements between parents and school districts; Washington’s options include facilitation, mediation, community complaint, and due process hearing.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): the federal law that makes it unlawful to discriminate against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools and transportation.

Appropriate Evaluation: IDEA requires that a child must be assessed in all areas of suspected disability to determine eligibility for special education and related services

Assistive Technology (AT): includes devices that are used by individuals in order to perform functions that might otherwise be difficult or impossible, and services that assist with the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC): “all of the ways that someone communicates besides talking”.

Bureau of Indian Education (BIE): offering high-quality educational opportunities spanning early childhood to adulthood and aligned with the cultural and economic requirements of each tribe, recognizing the unique cultural and governmental identity of Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages. The BIE aims to acknowledge the holistic well-being of individuals by considering their spiritual, mental, physical, and cultural dimensions within the context of their family and tribal or village affiliations.

Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP): a working document that the school and family build together and review regularly to make sure the child is supported with positive reinforcement and encouragement for meeting behavioral expectations.

Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR): the central “Hub” of information and products created for the network of Parent Centers serving families of children with disabilities.

Child Find: IDEA requires that public school districts identify and evaluate children with potential disabilities to determine their eligibility to receive school-based supports and services to meet their unique needs.

Community Parent Resource Center (CPRC): see also parent training and information (PTI); federally-funded programs that provide information, training, and resources to traditionally families of children with disabilities in traditionally underserved communities.

Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF): Washington’s lead agency for providing state-funded services that help kids and families become stronger, healthier, and do better in school.

Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA): the Washington agency responsible for administering the Medicaid waiver to eligible individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Developmental preschools: also known as inclusion preschool programs; these are special classes in the school district where children aged 3-5 with special needs receive custom-tailored instruction to meet their individual requirements.

Early intervention services (EIS): services to help infants and toddlers with disabilities or delays to learn and catch up in their development.

Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT): also see early intervention services; the program under Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) that administers early intervention services in Washington state.

Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP): also see Special Needs Program (SNP); Department of Defense (DoD) programs for dependents of active-duty service members (ADSMs) of the U.S. Armed Forces with special medical or educational needs.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): the federal law that governs Kindergarten through 12th grade public education “to provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high-quality education, and to close educational achievement gaps”.

Family-to-Family Health Information Center (F2FHIC): also known as Family-to-Family (F2F); helps families of children and youth with special health care needs, and the professionals who serve them, to find healthcare funding.

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE): students with disabilities who need a special kind of teaching or other help have the right to an education that is not only free but also appropriate, designed just for them, and provided through the local education agency (public school district).

Family Resource Coordinator (FRC): also see Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) ;the ESIT point of contact and case manager who can answer questions, provide information, and refer to resource programs related to child development.

Inclusion preschool programs: also known as developmental preschools; special classes in the school district where children aged 3-5 with special needs receive custom-tailored instruction to meet their individual requirements.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): the federal law that governs special education and related services for students with disabilities aged 3-21.

Individualized Education Program (IEP): a dynamic program written and tailored to the needs of a student with a disability, aged 3-21, in order to help them participate in and make progress in their education.

Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP): a whole family plan, with the child’s primary caregivers as major contributors to its development and implementation.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): IDEA requires that children who receive special education and related services be with other children who do not have disabilities as much as is appropriate for their unique needs.

Local Educational Agency (LEA): also known as lead educational agency; they operate independently as 295 districts throughout the state and include a school board governance structure.

Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS): see also response to intervention (RTI); schools support well-being for all students and offer higher levels of support based on student need by creating a structure for positive behavioral supports and trauma-informed interventions.

Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI): see also state educational agency; the lead agency for Kindergarten through 12th grade public education, including 295 public school districts and 6 state-tribal education compact schools throughout the state of Washington.

Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP): the U.S. Department of Education program dedicated to improving results for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities aged 3-21.

Other Health Impairment (OHI): one of the 14 eligibility categories listed in IDEA “having limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that (i) is due to chronic or acute health problems… and; (ii) adversely affects a child’s educational performance…”

Parent to Parent (P2P): programs that provide hands-on support, training, and technical assistance and education to parents and caregivers of individuals with disabilities and/or special healthcare needs; PAVE houses the P2P program for Pierce County.

Parent and Student Participation: IDEA and state regulations about IEP team membership make it clear that parents or legal guardians are equal partners with school staff in making decisions about their child’s education, until the educational decision-making authority transfers to the student on their 18th birthday.

Part B: also called special education; the section of IDEA that governs how special education and related services are provided to school-aged children with disabilities.

Part C: also called early intervention; the section of IDEA that governs early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities.

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS): a framework schools use to organize behavior supports for students that emphasizes prevention instead of waiting for problems to happen, and ranges in intensity and duration depending on the level of behavior.

Parent Training and Information (PTI): a federally-funded program created by IDEA that provides information, training, and support to family caregivers, youth, and professionals with questions about services for and educational rights of children and young people with disabilities; PAVE is the PTI of Washington state.

Prior written notice (PWN): a document that explains school district decisions about a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Procedural Safeguards: IDEA requires schools to provide the parents/guardians of a student who is eligible for or referred for special education with a notice containing a full explanation of the rights available to them.

Response to Intervention (RTI): a system for helping students with potential learning problems early and an acceptable way to identify students with learning disabilities.

State educational agency (SEA): see also Office of Superintendent of Special Education (OSPI); the state board of education or other agency primarily responsible for the State supervision of public elementary schools and secondary schools.

Specially Designed Instruction (SDI): the “special” in special education; individually tailored curriculum, services, and delivery that meets the unique needs of the child with a disability, provided at no expense to the family through the lead educational agency (LEA).

Special Needs Program (SNP): see also Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP); Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program for dependents of active-duty service members (ADSMs) of U.S. Coast Guard with special medical or educational needs.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI): a monthly financial payment made to persons meeting specific eligibility requirements defined by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL): the crime of providing legal advice or representation as non-attorneys. Please note that PAVE is not a legal services agency and cannot provide legal advice or representation. Information provided is not intended for legal counsel and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice.