Special Education Services Definitions

  • Accommodations – Does not change how much of the curriculum the student is expected to learn. It only changes how students access and express knowledge on a daily basis.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – Federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. It specifies requirements for public agencies and services to make employment, transportation, and other services accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) – Federal law detailing who is eligible for special education and what states and local education agencies must do to provide special education to students with disabilities.
  • Individual Education Program (IEP) – This is a written statement for a child with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised in a meeting of their IEP Team. The law sets out specific details for who is on the IEP Team, what the IEP must contain, and when it must be reviewed and revised. All of these requirements must be met in order for an IEP to be valid. Once written, the IEP is a legally binding document that the school must follow.
  • Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) – “Each public agency shall ensure that to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities. . . are educated with children who are non-disabled and that special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.” Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 34 CFR 300.550
  • Modifications – Changes how much of the curriculum the student is expected to learn. These changes customize the curriculum and expectations of the student’s mastery of essential skills.
  • Neighborhood Schools – The school boundaries in which a child resides.
  • Related Services – Services needed to help a child with a disability benefit from special education. The law specifically includes transportation, speech-language pathology, and audiology services, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation (including therapeutic recreation), early identification and assessment of disabilities in children, counseling services (including rehabilitation counseling), orientation and mobility services, medical services for diagnostic or evaluation purposes, school health services, social work services in schools, and parent counseling and training. The law also specifies that it includes any other service an IEP Team says is needed for a child to benefit from special education.
  • Occupational Therapy – Services provided by a qualified occupational therapist and usually focuses on fine motor skills, including eating. It includes improving, developing, or restoring functions impaired or lost through illness, injury, or deprivation; improving ability to perform tasks for independent functioning if functions are impaired or lost; and preventing, through early intervention, initial or further impairment or loss of function. For occupational therapy services to be provided at school, the services must be needed in order for the student to benefit from special education.
  • Physical Therapy – Services provided by a licensed physical therapist that are focused on gross motor skills. In order for physical therapy services to be provided at school, the services must be needed in order for the student to benefit from special education.
  • Self-Contained – A federal reporting category identifying the students who get special educations services (i.e., specially designed instruction, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech, etc.) for at least sixty percent of their day. This is not a classroom setting or a place. A student may be getting these special education services in the general classroom.
  • Specially Designed Instruction – Adapting the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction to address the unique needs of a child with a disability and ensure the child has access to the general curriculum, so that he or she can meet the educational standards that apply to all children.
  • Special Education Teacher – Special education teachers are licensed/certified to use various techniques to teach children with disabilities who learn or respond differently. They help general educators adapt curriculum materials and teaching techniques to meet the needs of students with disabilities and may also team-teach with general educators.
  • Speech-Language Services – Identification of children with speech or language impairments; diagnosis and appraisal of specific speech or language impairments; referral for medical or other professional attention necessary for the habilitation of speech or language impairments; provision of speech and language services for the habilitation or prevention of communicative impairments; and counseling and guidance of parents, children, and teachers regarding speech and language impairments. In order to receive speech services at school, the services must be needed in order for a student to benefit from special education.
  • Teacher of Record – This is the teacher responsible for the instruction being given to the class/student although others may assist or do parts of the teaching. For example, even though a student teacher may teach in the class for part of the day, the classroom teacher remains the teacher of record. The teacher of record is responsible for ensuring the required subject matter is taught and the student’s grades are recorded and reported.