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IDEA: Terms and Acronyms for Special Education

written by: Barbara • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 7/12/2012

There are lists of terms and acronyms that define special education programs. In this article, the list will be demystified for frequently used words that can make the difference in providing services and effective instruction for students, teachers and parents.

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    IDEA Terms and Acronyms Defined

    In the legal mandates of IDEA, there are a list of terms and acronyms including IDEA that need to be defined and demystified for the regular layperson. Below are the terms and the acronyms that will make IEP meetings a breeze for all of the stakeholders:

    • ADA - American with Disabilities Act
    • ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
    • ADD - Attention Deficit Disorder
    • BD - Behavioral Disorder
    • BIP - Behavioral Intervention Plan based on the FBA
    • EDB - Emotional Behavioral Disorder
    • Case Law - court developed laws addressing special education issues
    • Competency - the ability to achieve a designated level of academic or behavioral performance
    • Consent - parent permission for schools to evaluate students for special education services
    • Disability - impairments that affect school performance defined under IDEA
    • EAHCA - Education for All Handicapped Children Act, now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
    • FAPE - Free Appropriate Public Education
    • FBA- Functional Behavioral Analysis - Analysis of students behavior for the behavioral intervention plan (BIP)
    • Full inclusion - mainstreaming special education students in regular education classes.
    • FERPA - Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act - related to student privacy acts and confidential laws
    • HCPA - Handicapped Children's Protection Act of 1986 - provides legal compensations and reimbursements for parents who have been successful in cases against agencies
    • IDEA - Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
    • IEP - Individualized Education Program, also known as Individualized Education Plan
    • LRE - Least restrictive environment which is known as mainstreaming special
    • LD - Learning disabled per diagnostic assessments
    • MR - Mentally retarded as medically diagnosed
    • Reasonable Accommodation or Modification - providing reasonable program or curriculum modifications for students with IEPs or 504 plans
    • Section 504 - Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that provides reasonable accommodations for students with defined disabilities
    • Transition services - a part of the IEP that provides activities and educational instruction for students transitioning into higher education or other defined settings under IDEA (Rothstein, L.F. (2000) pp 327-330.

    This list is not a comprehensive list of the myriad of terms used in IDEA law and special education school communities, but it's a start for those navigating the journey of special education services for students.

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    Rothstein, L.F. (2000). Special education law. (3rd ed.) New York: Longman.