Glossary of Special Ed Terms (English)

504 Plan

The 504 Plan is a plan developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the Rehabilitation Act and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives accommodations that will ensure their academic success and access to the learning environment. These accommodations and modifications must ensure that there is no discrimination because of the child’s disability.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

A technique for correcting behavior and social skill deficits in children with special needs. It is based on the understanding that children are more likely to repeat desired behaviors when these behaviors are met with positive reinforcement, and that they are less likely to repeat undesirable behaviors that are not rewarded. One significant part of ABA is discrete trial training (DTT), in which


Changes in educational environments that allow students with disabilities to participate in inclusive environments by compensating for learners’ weaknesses.

Annual Review (AR)

The yearly meeting of the individualized education program (IEP) team (or called ARD committee in some states). The AR is designed to gather all the IEP team members in one location to update one another on a student’s needs and performance by reviewing progress toward goals and looking at new data like work samples and recent testing.

Inclusion, Inclusive Classroom

The term inclusion communicates an all-embracing societal ideology. Regarding individuals with disabilities and special education, inclusion secures opportunities for students with disabilities to learn inside mainstream classrooms. Mainstream classrooms in which students with disabilities learn are known as inclusive classrooms.

Individualized Education Program (IEP)

A legal document that defines special education services between the school district and the parents.

IEP Team

The team of qualified professionals made up of the parent, special education teacher, interpreter of test data, district representative, and general education teacher at a minimum. This group makes all decisions related to the instructional program of a child with special needs, including placement and services provided. In some states this team is called the admission, review and dismissal (ARD) team.

Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP)

A written treatment plan that maps out the early intervention services a child
(age birth to his/her third birthday) will receive, as well as how and when these services will be administered. It details a
child’s current levels of functioning, specific needs and goals for treatment (referred to as outcomes).

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

A law that guarantees educational rights to all students with disabilities and makes it illegal for school districts to refuse to educate a student based on his or her disability.

Informed Consent

The signed consent of a parent that describes what the parent is consenting to; informed consent
must be obtained before a district assesses, makes a major revision to a child’s program, continues, or stops service for a
child’s disability.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

The environment in which students with disabilities must be educated, as mandated.
Students with disabilities must be educated in a classroom setting that is as close to the general education setting as


Curricular adaptations that compensate for learners’ weaknesses by changing or lowering expectations
or standards.

Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team (MET or MDT)

The name used for the group of trained professionals that conduct
eligibility and review assessments. These members are often the same as the IEP Team, but the law does not define a MET
or MDT, simply calls them a group of qualified professionals.

Natural Environment

An educational setting that is comparable to the setting provided to children without disabilities.


Short-term goals that are a critical component of an individualized family service plan (IFSP) and of an
Individual Education Plan (IEP). They must be relevant, specific and measurable.

Speech or Language Impairment (SLI)

A communication disorder such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment or a voice impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.