Terminology

  • Accommodations – Students may receive accommodations that provide students with disabilities equitable access to instruction and assessments that are dictionary aligned to the Maryland College & Career Ready Standard. Accommodations can be provided in the areas of: Presentation; Response; Setting; and Scheduling.

    Achievement test - Test that measures competency in a particular area of knowledge or skill; measures mastery or acquisition of skills.

    ADA - Americans with Disabilities Act. A Federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in the areas of employment, public transportation, services provided by state and local government, services and accommodations offered by private businesses, and telecommunication access for people with communication impairments.  

    Adaptive development - development of the child in comparison to other children the same age. This might include the child's ability to dress himself, feed himself, toilet training, how he/she plays with other children, how he/she plays alone, understanding dangers in crossing the street, how he/she behaves if mother leaves the room, etc.

    Advocate - someone who takes action to help someone else (as in "educational advocate"); also, to take action on someone's behalf

    Alternative assessment - Usually means an alternative to a paper and pencil test; refers to non-conventional methods of assessing achievement (e.g., work samples and portfolios).

    ALT - MSA - Students who follow alternate outcomes and take the Alt-MSA assessment follow Maryland Content Standards. This content, however, may not fully represent grade-level content and may include content which is substantially simplified. These students will earn a certificate of attendance upon completion of their school experience.

    Amendment - a change, revision, or addition made to a law

    Appeal - a written request for a change in a decision; also, to make such a request

    Assessment - a collecting and bringing together of information about a child's needs, which may include social, psychological, and educational evaluations used to determine services; a process using observation, testing, and test analysis to determine an individual's strengths and weaknesses in order to plan his or her educational services

    Assessment team - a team of people from different backgrounds who observe and test a child to determine his or her strengths and weaknesses

    At risk - a term used with children who have, or could have, problems with their development that may affect later learning

    Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD) - Child with ADD or ADHD may be eligible for special education under other health impairment, specific learning disability, and/or emotional disturbance categories if ADD/ADHD condition adversely affects educational performance.

    Assistive technology device - Equipment used to maintain or improve the capabilities of a child with a disability.

    Audiology - Related service; includes identification, determination of hearing loss, and referral for habilitation of hearing.

    Autism - Developmental disability that affects communication and social interaction, adversely affects educational performance, is generally evident before age 3. Children with autism often engage in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resist environmental change or change in daily routines, and have unusual responses to sensory experiences.

    Basic skills - Skills in subjects like reading, writing, spelling, and mathematics.

    Bell curve - A distribution of scores used to scale a test. Normal distribution curve is a bell-shaped curve with most scores in the middle and a small number of scores at the low and high ends.

    BIP - Behavior Intervention Plan. A BIP includes practical and specific strategies and positive supports designed to increase or reduce certain behaviors. 

    Building Coordinators (BC) - provide a leadership role in the Special Education Program by directing the referral process, arranging IEP meetings, and by coordinating the documentation of special education services. In most cases this person also is your child's Service Coordinator.

    Case Manager/Service Coordinator - An individual who coordinates and facilitates services for a child and family.  

    Child Find - Requirement that states ensure that all children with disabilities are identified, located and evaluated, and determine which children are receiving special education and related services.

    C.F.R. Code of Federal Regulations

    Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) - The Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) is a permanent compilation of all Maryland agency regulations. Started in 1977, COMAR is divided into 31 titles, with each title usually corresponding to a department or agency within State government.

    Cognitive - a term that describes the process people use for remembering, reasoning, understanding, and using judgment; in special education terms, a cognitive disability refers to difficulty in learning

    Consent – A parent has been fully informed of all information relevant to the activity for which consent is sought, in the parent’s native language or other mode of communication; understands and agrees in writing to the carrying out of the activity for which the parent’s consent is sought, and the consent describes that activity and lists the records, if any, that will be released and to whom; and understanding that the granting of consent is voluntary on the part of the parent and may be revoked at any time.

    Counseling - advice or help given by someone qualified to give such advice or help (often psychological counseling)

    CSPD - Comprehensive System of Personnel Development. CSPD must be designed to ensure an adequate supply of qualified special education, regular education, and related services personnel in accordance with the State Improvement Plan. 

    Curriculum based measurement (CBM) - Tools for measuring student competency and progress in the basic skill areas of reading fluency, spelling, mathematics and written language.

    Deaf-blindness - IDEA disability category; includes hearing and visual impairments that cause severe communication, developmental and educational problems that adversely affects educational performance.

    Deafness - IDEA disability category; impairment in processing information through hearing that adversely affects educational performance

    Developmental - having to do with the steps or stages in growth and development before the age of 18 years

    Developmental history - the developmental progress of a child (ages birth to 18 years) in such skills as sitting, walking, talking, or learning

    Developmental tests - standardized tests that measure a child's development as it compares to the development of all other children at that age

    Disability - the result of any physical or mental condition that affects or prevents one's ability to develop, achieve, and/or function in an educational setting at a normal rate

    Disability categories - IDEA disability categories include autism, deaf-blindness, deafness, emotional disability, hearing impairment, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment (e.g., asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia and Tourette syndrome), specific learning disability, (e.g., Perceptual Disabilities, Brain Injury, Minimal Brain Dysfunction, Dyslexia, Developmental Aphasia), speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, visual impairment (including blindness), and developmental delay.

    Discovery - Term for methods of obtaining evidence in advance of trial; includes interrogatories, depositions and inspection of documents.

    Due process (procedure) - action that protects a person's rights; in special education, this applies to action taken to protect the educational rights of students with disabilities

    Early Intervention Services or Programs - programs or services designed to identify and treat a developmental problem as early as possible.

    Early intervention (EI) - Special education and related services provided to children under age of 5.

    Education records – personally identifiable information about a student with a disability maintained by a public agency.

    Educational consultant/diagnostician - An individual who may be familiar with school curriculum and requirements at various grade levels: may or may not have a background in learning disabilities; may conduct educational evaluations.

    Eligible - able to qualify

    Emotional Disability (ED) - Disability category under IDEA; includes depression, fears, anxiety, schizophrenia; adversely affects educational performance.

    Exclusion – means the removal of a student to a supervised area for a limited period of time during which the student has an opportunity to regain self-control and is not receiving instruction including special education, related services, or support.

    Extended School Year (ESY) - an individualized extension of specific services beyond the regular school year provided as part of a free appropriate public education.

    Evaluation - (as applied to children from birth through two years of age) the procedures used to determine if a child is eligible for early intervention services; (as applied to preschool and school-aged children) the procedures used to determine whether a child has a disability and the nature and extent of the special education and related services the child needs

    FBA - Functional Behavior Assessment. FBA is a process for gathering information that can be used to determine why a person is exhibiting unacceptable behavior and what is needed to change the behavior.

    FERPA - Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act; statute about confidentiality and access to education records.

    Free Appropriate Public Education [often referred to as FAPE] - one of the key requirements of IDEA, which requires that an education program be provided for all school-aged children (regardless of disability) without cost to families; the exact requirements of "appropriate" are not defined, but other references within the law imply the most "normal" setting available

    Functional Skills - Skills needed for independent living, such as domestic skills, consumer skills, working with or managing money, using public transportation, and knowing how to be safe in the community.

    General curriculum - Curriculum adopted by LEA or SEA for all children from preschool through high school.

    Guardian ad litem - Person appointed by the court to represent the rights of minors.

    Health Related Services - transportation and developmental, corrective, and other support services that a child with disabilities requires in order to benefit from education; examples of related services include: speech pathology and audiology, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, counseling services, interpreters for the hearing impaired, and medical services for diagnostic and evaluation purposes

    Hearing impairment - Disability category under IDEA; permanent or fluctuating impairment in hearing that adversely affects educational performance.

    Inclusion - Practice of educating children with special needs in regular education classrooms in neighborhood schools. See also mainstreaming and least restrictive environment.

    Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) - The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997 were signed into law on June 4, 1997. This Act strengthens academic expectations and accountability for the nation's 5.8 million children with disabilities and bridges the gap that has too often existed between what children with disabilities learn and what is required in regular curriculum. (Go to IDEA'97 Website)

    IEE - Independent Educational Evaluation. Assessment procedures conducted by a qualified individual who is not employed by the public agency responsible for the education of the student.

    Individualized Education Plan (IEP) - a written education plan for a school-aged child with disabilities developed by a team of professionals (teachers, therapists, etc.) and the child's parents; it is reviewed and updated yearly and describes how the child is presently doing, what the child's learning needs are, and what services the child will need; (For children ages birth through 2 years, the IFSP is used.)

    Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team - This multidisciplinary team is made up of regular and special education teachers, other professionals, and the parents of the child. The team is responsible for identifying and evaluating children with disabilities who are in need of special education; developing, reviewing their progress on, or revising an IEP; determining the student's placement; and determining that the child is no longer a child with a disability.

    Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) - a written statement for an infant or toddler (ages birth through 2 years old) developed by a team of people who have worked with the child and the family; the IFSP must describe the child's development levels; family information; major outcomes expected to be achieved for the child and family; the services the child will be receiving; when and where the child will receive these services; and the steps to be taken to support the transition of the child to another program; the IFSP will also list the name of the service coordinator assigned to the child and his/her family.

    Infants & Toddlers Program - This is the early intervention amendments to IDEA. It is the statewide program that requires services for children from birth to three years of age, including an individualized family service plan (IFSP) and case management services. Each county administers this program differently.

    Intelligence tests - Tests that measure aptitude or intellectual capacities (Examples: Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-IV) and Stanford-Binet (SB:IV).

    Intelligence quotient (IQ) - Score achieved on an intelligence test that identifies learning potential.

    LEA - Local education agency or school district

    Lead Agency - the agency (office) within a state or territory in charge of overseeing and coordinating service systems for children

    Learning disability - See specific learning disability (SLD).

    Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) - an educational setting or program that provides a student with disabilities with the chance to work and learn to the best of his or her ability; it also provides the student as much contact as possible with children without disabilities, while meeting all of the child's learning needs and physical requirements

    LCC - Local Coordinating Council. A group of people representing all of the city or county level agencies that provides services to children. The LCC makes recommendations for residential school placements.

    LSS - Local School System (sometimes referred to as LEA - Local School System). Any of the 24 public, local school systems in Maryland responsible for educating your child.

    Manifestation Determination - Decision whether inappropriate and/or dangerous behavior was caused by, or directly and substantially related to the students disability.  A manifestation determination may be required after a student has been removed from school as a disciplinary action.

    MSDE - Maryland State Department of Education. The state agency that is responsible for monitoring local education agencies and for making sure that these agencies follow state and federal laws.

    Mean - Average score; sum of individual scores divided by the total number of scores.

    Median - The middle score in a distribution or set of ranked scores; the point (score) that divides a group into two equal parts; the 50th percentile. Half the scores are below the median, and half are above it.

    Mediation - This is the process of having a trained person try to help parents and the school system reach an agreement.

    Modifications - Student requires and receives modified academic achievement standards aligned with the Maryland College & Career Ready Standards. Content may be modified to the testing assessment limits. Students who have modifications written on their IEP are earning a diploma.

    Multiple disabilities - Disability category under IDEA; concomitant impairments (such as mental retardation-blindness, mental retardation-orthopedic impairment, etc.) that cause such severe educational problems that problems cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments; does not include deaf-blindness.

    Native language - Language normally used by the child’s parents.

    Occupational Therapy (OT) - a therapy or treatment provided by an occupational therapist that helps individual developmental or physical skills that will aid in daily living; it focuses on sensory integration, on coordination of movement, and on fine motor and self-help skills, such as dressing, eating with a fork and spoon, etc.

    Orientation and mobility services - Related service; includes services to visually impaired students that enable students to move safely at home, school, and community

    Orthopedic impairment - Disability category under IDEA; orthopedic impairment that adversely affects child’s educational performance

    OSERS - Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

    OSEP - Office of Special Education Programs

    Other health impairment - Disability category under IDEA; refers to limited strength, vitality or alertness due to chronic or acute health problems that adversely affects educational performance.

    Performance standards - Definitions of what a child must do to demonstrate proficiency at specific levels in content standards.

    Physical Therapy (PT) - treatment of (physical) disabilities given by a trained physical therapist (under doctor's orders) that includes the use of massage, exercise, etc. to help the person improve the use of bones, muscles, joints, and nerves

    Placement - the classroom, program, service, and/or therapy that is selected for a student with special needs

    Private Agency - a non-public agency which may be receiving public funds to provide services for some children

    Portfolio - A collection of work that shows progress and learning; can be designed to assess progress, learning, effort, and/or achievement.

    Prior written notice - Required written notice to parents when school proposes to initiate or change, or refuses to initiate or change, the identification, evaluation, or special educational placement and services of the child.

    Procedural safeguards notice - Requirement that schools provide full easily understood explanation of procedural safeguards that describe parent’s right to an independent educational evaluation, to examine records, to request mediation and due process.

    Psychological services - Related service; includes administering psychological and educational tests, interpreting test results, interpreting child behavior related to learning.

    Psychologists - provide testing and consultation services for students who are referred for evaluation. They meet with the IEP Team, explain testing results, and make recommendations for the student's placement and program.

    Public Agency - an agency, office, or organization that is supported by public funds and serves the community at large

    Raw score - A raw score is the number of questions answered correctly on a test or subtest. For example, if a test has 59 items and the student gets 23 items correct, the raw score would be 23. Raw scores are converted to percentile ranks, standard scores, grade equivalent and age equivalent scores.

    Reasonable accommodation - Adoption of an accommodation that can be accomplished without undue administrative or financial burden.

    Rehabilitation Act of 1973 - Civil rights statute designed to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination; purposes are to maximize employment, economic self-sufficiency, independence, inclusion and integration into society.

    Rehabilitation counseling services - Related service; includes career development, preparation for employment, vocational rehabilitation services funded under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

    Related services – Transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as may be required to assist a student with a disability to benefit from special education.  Related services include: speech-language pathology; audiology; interpreting services; psychological services; physical and occupational therapy; recreation, including therapeutic recreation; early identification and assessment of disabilities in students; counseling services, including rehabilitation counseling; orientation and mobility services; medical service for diagnostic or evaluation purposes; school health services, including school nursing services; social work services in schools; and parent counseling and training.  Related services does not include: a surgically implanted medical devise; the optimization of the devices functioning; maintenance of the devise; or replacement of the device.

    Remediation - Process by which an individual receives instruction and practice in skills that are low or nonexistent in an effort to develop/strengthen these skills.

    Resolution Session - A mandatory meeting that the school district must convene within 15 days of receiving the parents' due process complaint. The resolution session includes parents, members of the IEP team relevant to the complaint, and a representative of the school district who has decision-making authority.

    SCC - State Coordinating Council. The SCC is made up of people from all of the state agencies that provide services to children.

    Screening - Screening is the process of reviewing a child's situation to see if he or she may be disabled and in need of special education.

    SEA - State Education Agency. The Maryland State Department of Education is the state education agency.

    Section 504 - Section 504 is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Section 504 ensures that the child with a disability has equal access to an education. The child may receive accommodations and modifications. Unlike the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 does not require the school to provide an individualized educational program (IEP) that is designed to meet the child's unique needs and provides the child with educational benefit. Under Section 504, fewer procedural safeguards are available to children with disabilities and their parents than under IDEA. 504 Plans can be discussed with the school guidance counselor.

    Service Coordinator - someone who acts as a coordinator of a child's services, working in partnership with the family and providers of special programs

    Special Education Programs/Services - programs, services, or specially designed instruction (offered at no cost to families) for children with special needs who are found eligible for such services; these include special learning methods or materials in the regular classroom, and special classes and programs if the learning or physical problems indicate this type of program

    Special Needs - (as in "special needs" child) - a term to describe a child who has disabilities or who is at risk of developing disabilities and who, therefore, requires special services or treatment in order to progress

    Specially designed instruction – the adaptation of content, methodology, or delivery of instruction to address the unique needs of a student with a disability to ensure access to the general curriculum, so that the student can meet the educational standards that apply to each student within the jurisdiction of the public agency.

    Specific learning disability (SLD) – 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, consistent with department criteria.  SLD includes conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.  SLD does not include students who have learning problems which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor impairments, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, or environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

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

    Speech-language pathology services – A service which includes identification of students 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 for speech or language impairments; provision of speech and language services for the habilitation or prevention of communicative impairments; and counseling and guidance of parents, students, and teachers regarding speech and language impairments.

    SRI - Systems Reform Initiative - An extensive, statewide effort to change the way services are delivered to children with disabilities who require interagency planning.

    Standard deviation (SD) - A measure of the variability of a distribution of scores. The more the scores cluster around the mean, the smaller the standard deviation. In a normal distribution, 68% of the scores fall within one standard deviation above and one standard deviation below the mean.

    Standard score - Score on norm-referenced tests that are based on the bell curve and its equal distribution of scores from the average of the distribution. Standard scores are especially useful because they allow for comparison between students and comparisons of one student over time.

    Standardization - A consistent set of procedures for designing, administering, and scoring an assessment. The purpose of standardization is to ensure that all individuals are assessed under the same conditions and are not influenced by different conditions.

    Standardized tests - Tests that are uniformly developed, administered, and scored.

    Standards - Statements that describe what students are expected to know and do in each grade and subject area; include content standards, performance standards, and benchmarks.

    Stanine - A standard score between 1 to 9, with a mean of 5 and a standard deviation of 2. The first stanine is the lowest scoring group and the 9th stanine is the highest scoring group.

    Student Services Information System (SSIS) - a program in which we log student information to be used when reporting to the Maryland State Department of Education

    Subtest - A group of test items that measure a specific area (i.e., math calculation and reading comprehension). Several subtests make up a test.

    Supplementary aids and services – Aids and services and other supports that are provided in regular education classes, other education-related settings, and extracurricular and nonacademic settings to enable a student with a disability to be educated with students without disabilities to the maximum extent appropriate.

    T-Score - A standard score with a mean of 50 and a standard deviation of 10. A T-score of 60 represents a score that is 1 standard deviation above the mean.

    Third Party Billing - a program dedicated to strengthening and expanding Special Education and Health Related Services for students in the school system through the reimbursement of funds collected from Medicaid.

    Transition services - IEP requirement; designed to facilitate the student’s movement from school to the workplace or to higher education.

    Transportation – Services which include travel to and from school and between schools; travel in and around school buildings; and specialized equipment, such as special or adapted buses, lifts, and ramps, if required to provide special transportation for a student with a disability.

    Traumatic brain injury - Disability category under IDEA; includes acquired injury caused by external physical force and open or closed head injuries that result in impairments; does not include congenital or degenerative brain injuries or brain injuries caused by birth trauma.

    Visual impairment including blindness - Disability category under IDEA; impaired vision that adversely affects educational performance.

    z-Score - A standard score with a mean of 0 (zero) and a standard deviation of 1.