Understanding Special Education: Frequently Used Terms

AT: Assistive technology.

BECs: Basic Education Circulars — statements of policy guidance on education issues from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

BSE: Bureau of Special Education — the office in the Pennsylvania Department of Education that administers and manages the state’s special education resources and oversees compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Chapter 14: The chapter in Title 22 of the Pennsylvania Code containing the Pennsylvania State Board of Education’s special education regulations that implement the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Chapter 15: The Chapter in Title 22 of the Pennsylvania Code containing the Pennsylvania State Board of Education’s regulations that implement Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Compensatory Education: Make-up services owed to a child with a disability who did not receive the services listed in his or her IEP or who did not receive an appropriate program,  or whose legal rights have been violated in a significant way. Also known as “comp. ed.”

DPH: Due process hearing (special education hearing).

ED: Emotional disability (or emotional disturbance).

EI: Early intervention.

EIS: Early intervening services.

ER: Evaluation report.

ESY: Extended school year.

FAPE: Free appropriate public education.

FBA: Functional behavior assessment.

IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act — the federal law that requires states to provide children with disabilities a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE).

IDEIA 2004: Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 — the law that reauthorized and amended the IDEA in 2004.

IEE: Independent educational evaluation.

IEP: Individualized education program (plan for eligible children from ages 3 through 21).

IFSP: Individualized family service plan (plan for eligible children from birth to age 3).

IU: Intermediate Unit — Pennsylvania’s 29 Intermediate Units are regional education service agencies charged with providing programs and services to public, private, and nonpublic (religious) schools.

LEA: Local educational agency — in Pennsylvania, usually a school district, a 122 charter school, or an IU.

LRE: Least restrictive environment.

NOREP/PWN: Notice of Recommended Educational Placement/ Prior Written Notice.

ODR: Office for Dispute Resolution — an office funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to coordinate services for due process hearings and other dispute resolution options (such as mediation and IEP facilitation).

OT: Occupational therapy.

PaTTAN: Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network — an organization that provides educators, parents, and agencies involved in special education with a statewide network of technical assistance trainings and publications.

PDE: Pennsylvania Department of Education — the state agency responsible for overseeing the provision of education and educational services to all children in the state.

PASA: Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment — the statewide test for children with significant cognitive disabilities who cannot take the PSSA.

PBS: Positive behavior support.

PBSP: Positive behavior support plan.

PSSA: Pennsylvania System of School Assessment — the statewide test measuring student proficiency on state academic standards.

PT: Physical therapy.

PTE: Permission to evaluate.

RtI: Response to intervention.

SAS: Supplementary aids and services.

SDI: Specially designed instruction (special education).

SEA: State educational agency — in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Section 504 Plan: Also known as a service agreement, 504 plan, or 504 accommodations plan — a plan adopted for children who are eligible for accommodations or other services due to disability under Chapter 15 and Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

SLD: Specific learning disability.

U.S. DOE: United States Department of Education — the federal agency responsible for overseeing the provision of education and educational services to all children in the United States.

DISCLAIMER: This information, from the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania, provides a general idea of Pennsylvania and federal special education laws and should not be considered legal advice. For publications, videos, and other information on how to get help with education law questions, please visit www.elc-pa.org.

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