Key Terms in Special Education-School Age

Accommodations and Modifications: Accommodations and modifications support changes in what is being taught or expected from the student with a disability by making assignments and learning activities easier.

Accommodations can help students learn the same material as same-age peers by making changes to how material is taught and/or their learning assessed. These changes are designed to allow the students to meet the same expectations as their peers. An example of an accommodation would be allowing a student with ADHD to take tests in a separate room free of distractions while their peers take the same test in the classroom.

Modifications support changes to the student’s curriculum. They change what is being taught. Modifications allow a student with a disability to participate and make progress in their education in a manner that is right for them.

For example, a child with a cognitive disability which affects the ability to read may need to use reduced-level textbooks and have other learning strategies regularly employed to develop and increase reading skills.

An Individualized Education Program may contain both accommodations and modifications, depending on the student’s needs.

Age of majority: The age at which a young person is considered an adult as defined by state law. Rights and responsibilities that parents had under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act with respect to their child’s education belong to that child when the age of majority is reached. The IEP must include a statement that the student has been informed of the rights that will transfer on reaching the age of majority.

Child with a disability: A child that has been evaluated and meets IDEA and state eligibility requirements to receive special education and related services due to the impairment.

Dispute resolution: The term for several processes available to parents when there is a dispute related to a violation under the IDEA. A dispute may be addressed using mediations, complaint procedures, due process hearing procedures, administrative appeals and civil judicial proceedings.

Early childhood transition: This process refers to children with an Individualized Family Service Plan who are eligible to transition, by age 3, from early intervention (IDEA Part C) to early childhood special education (IDEA Part B) with an IEP. The process begins at least six months prior to the toddler’s third birthday.

Educational and Developmental Intervention Services: The program operated by the military departments that provides early intervention services to infants and toddlers (birth to age 3) in overseas and designated domestic locations and related services for children ages 3-21 attending DoDEA schools overseas.

Extended school year services: A component of special education services for students who require services in excess of the regular academic year. The primary purposes of ESY are to prevent serious regression of previously learned skills, prevent the interruption of a major breakthrough in learning and maintain skills for students with significant educational needs.

Free appropriate public education: Children with special education needs are entitled to special education and related services provided at public expense, in accordance with an IEP that meets IDEA requirements.

A parent must consent in writing to actions related to the provision of services. The consent documents that parents have been fully informed, in their native language or other mode of communication, such as Braille, of all the information about the actions.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: The IDEA ensures that all children with disabilities are entitled to a free and appropriate public education to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living. Part B of IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention services to eligible infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.

Individualized Education Program: An IEP is an educational plan developed for a child with a disability who is found eligible for special education services. It is reviewed and revised in accordance with the IDEA and state guidelines and specifies the special education and related services necessary to meet the child’s needs. By age 3, an IEP must be developed for eligible toddlers transitioning from early intervention (IDEA Part C) to early childhood special education (IDEA Part B).

Individualized Family Service Plan: The IFSP guides and supports the provision of early intervention services for children with special needs ages birth to age 3. A team that includes the parents develops the IFSP which identifies child and family needs and is reviewed every six months and updated at least once a year.

Individualized Transition Plan: This is a plan that addresses a student’s transition out of public education and begins no later than age 16. The ITP consists of goals that cover outcomes in the areas of post-school activities, post-secondary education, employment, community experiences and daily living skills.

Least restrictive environment: The intent of this principle is to ensure that children receiving special education services spend as much time as possible with same-age peers in a general education setting.

Related services: These services enable a student with a disability to benefit from special education programs. Examples of these services include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language services, counseling and transportation.

Special education: A process and practice of educating students with disabilities in a manner which addresses their individual differences and needs.