SPED Terms

Key Terms

Educational Rights and Responsibilities: Understanding Special Education in Illinois



Changes in how learning occurs or how a test is administered that does not substantially alter what is learned or what the test measures; includes changes in presentation format, response format, test setting or test timing. Appropriate accommodations are made to provide equal opportunity to demonstrate knowledge.

Achievement Test

Test that measures competency in a particular area of knowledge or skill; measures mastery or acquisition of kills.

Achievement/ability discrepancy

A criterion often used to determine whether a child has a learning disability and if the child is working up to expectations.

Activities of daily living ADL

Personal care activities necessary for everyday living, including eating, dressing, bathing, grooming, and toileting.

Adaptive behavior

Refers to one’s ability to be socially appropriate and personally responsible. It is usually measured by scales that identify how well a person manages within his or her own environment. This includes, for example, communication, self-care, home living, social skills, community use, self-direction, health and safety, functional academics, leisure and work.

Adaptive physical education

Alternative physical education for students who cannot participate in the general education program. Involves modifications and/or accommodations to the regular physical education class. Supplemental instruction may take place in a separate class based on a student’s individual needs. The goal is to allow students with special needs to remain in the regular physical education class.

Adaptive/assistive devices AAD

Assistive technology devices designed or altered for special use by children with developmental delays

Adequate yearly progress AYP

Required by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), all public school campuses, school districts, and the state are evaluated for AYP. Each is required to meet AYP criteria on three measures: reading/language arts, mathematics, and either graduation rate (for high schools and districts) or attendance rate (for elementary and middle/junior high schools)


A term which refers to emotions and attitudes.

Alternative education placement AEP

An alternative classroom setting used to improve classroom behavior and address needs that cannot be met in a general classroom setting.

American sign language ASL

A form of communication used among deaf persons. The system uses signs to communicate based on specific movements and shapes of the hand and arms, eyes, face, head, and body posture.

Americans with Disabilities Act ADA

Enacted in 1990, it gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities to public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.

Annual Goal

A required component of an Individualized Education Program (IEP), it is a goal that a student will strive to achieve in a twelve-month period. An example would be, “David will read at a second grade level by the end of the next school year”

Annual review

Students with disabilities are required by law to have an educational program that is reviewed each year. A review involves an updating of the student’s progress and planning his/her educational program, and development of a new IEP for the upcoming year.


A written request for a court to review or change the decision of a hearing officer.

Appendix A

Appendix to the federal special education regulations that answers questions about IEPs, IEP teams, parental role, transition.

Applied behavior analysis ABA

An intervention technique that may be used to teach children with autism. It breaks down skills into very small components, which are then taught systematically. Each skill builds the foundation for the next one.


A way of collecting information about a student’s special learning needs, strengths, and interests to help make educational decisions. An assessment may include giving individual tests, observing the student, looking at records, and talking with the student and his/her parents.

Assistive technology device

Any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a child with a disability.

Educational Rights and Responsibilities: Understanding Special Education in Illinois


Specialist who is concerned with studying the nature of hearing, administering hearing tests to detect possible hearing loss, and giving information about hearing aids, training programs, and medical treatment. Related service includes identification, determination of hearing loss, and referral for habilitation of hearing.


Autism means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. Autism does not apply if a child’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disability. In addition, autism shall include, but not be limited to, any Autism Spectrum Disorder that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

Behavioral Intervention

A method or technique used to influence a student’s actions.

Behavioral Intervention Plan BIP

A written plan developed as part of the IEP to address a serious behavioral problem. It is based on a functional behavioral assessment of the student’s behavior, describes the interventions to be used, methods of evaluation, and provisions for coordinating with the home. The BIP outlines what the school personnel will do differently to support the needs of the student.


Refers to a major milestone that will enable parents, students, and educators to monitor progress toward a goal during the year.

Bilingual BIL

The ability to use two languages with equal or nearly equal fluency.


Written argument that supports a case; usually contains a statement of facts and a discussion of law.

Building Level Support Team BLST

A team that analyzes needs and clarifies school support systems for teachers, students, and parents.

Burden of proof

Duty of a party to substantiate its claim against the other party; in civil actions, the weight of this proof is usually described as a preponderance of the evidence.

Business Day

Means Monday through Friday, except for federal and state holidays.

Case Law

Decisions issued by a court.

Case study evaluation

A set of procedures specified within IDEA and expanded greatly in Illinois under 23 IAC 226.535 to determine possible special education eligibility.

Certified occupational therapist assistant COTA

A trained professional who works under the direction and supervision of an occupational therapist (OT).

Child find

Requirement that states ensure that all children with disabilities are identified, located and evaluated. Also to determine which children should be receiving special education and related services.

Chronologically age appropriate

A standard by which children’s activities may be evaluated. Instruction and materials should be directed at the student’s actual age, rather than to the interests and tastes of younger children.


The written or electronically submitted request for payment of benefits for Medicaid-covered services that have been provided to students.

Code of Federal Regulations CFR

The regulations developed by the US Department of Education designed to implementation statutory requirements such IDEA and Section 504.

Cognitive Disability

Cognitive disability means significantly below average general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.


The written action taken to notify ISBE that special education regulations are not being followed.

Computer-assisted instruction CAI

Drill-and-practice, tutorial, or simulation activities used alone or in conjunction with classroom instruction.


Information held by the school district that can only be shared with non-school parties with written parent permission, unless stated otherwise in the law.

Confidential file

File maintained by the school that contains evaluations conducted to determine whether child has a disability, other information related to special education placement; parents have a right to inspect the file and have copies of any information contained in it.


Precautions an individual other than the student’s parent must take in not revealing information, without consent, about a specific student, to someone who is not directly involved with that student.


Requirement that the parent be fully informed of all information that relates to any action that the school wants to take about the child, that parents understand that consent is voluntary and may be revoked at any time. A voluntary agreement by the parents to let the school take an action which affects their child’s education. Consent is shown by the parent signing a form or letter which describes the action the school wants to take.

(1) Fully informing the parent of all information relevant to the activity for which consent is sought, in his or her native language, or other mode of communication,

(2) The parent understands and agrees in writing to the carrying out of the activity for which his or her consent is sought, and the consent describes that activity and lists the records (if any) that will be released and to whom.

(3) The parent understands that the granting of consent is voluntary on the part of the parent and may be revoked at any time.

Continuum of services

The range of services which must be available to the students of a school district so that they may be served in the least restrictive environment.

Controlled substance

Means a drug or other substance identified under schedules I, II, III, IV, or V of the Controlled Substances Act; does not include a substance that is legally possessed or used under the supervision of a licensed health care provider.


Voluntary association of school districts that band together to provide special education services using a shared administrative structure.

Counseling services

Related service; includes services provided by social workers, psychologists, guidance counselors, or other qualified personnel.

Culturally and linguistically diverse CLD

Refers to students who come from a different culture and whose background includes a different language.

Cumulative file

General file maintained by the school; parent has right to inspect the file and have copies of any information contained in it.


The subject matter that is to be learned. The coursework offered by a school. A curriculum is usually described in terms of its scope and sequence.

Curriculum-based assessment CBA

An ongoing assessment of a student’s ability to meet expected performance standards in the developmental areas of cognitive, communication, social, motor, and adaptive behaviors.

Curriculum-based measurement CBM

A method teachers use to find out how students are progressing in basic academic areas such as math, reading, writing, and spelling. These measures are based on how well a student masters the curriculum goals .When using CBM, the teacher will give the student brief, timed samples (called probes), which are created from material taken out of the school curriculum. To keep things standard, the teacher will read the same directions every time that he/she gives a specific probe. These probes are timed and may last from one to five minutes, but this will depend on the child’s age and the skill being measured. The child’s performance on a probe is cored for speed and accuracy of performance. Used repeatedly as practice drills, the student’s results are charted to monitor the rate of academic progress.

Date of Referral

The date on which written parental consent to complete an evaluation is obtained or provided.


A calendar day, unless otherwise indicated as a “business day” or “school day”.


Deaf-blindness means concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness.


Deafness means a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.


Development which does not occur within expected time ranges.

Developmental disabilities DD

A diverse group of severe, lifelong, chronic conditions due to mental and/or physical impairments manifested prior to age 22.

Developmentally appropriate practices DAP

Practices that are age appropriate and individually appropriate for each student.

Developmental Delay DD

A delay in physical development, cognitive development, communication development, social or emotional development, or adaptive development (may include children from three through nine years of age).


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


An aspect of a child’s functioning or performance that must be considered in the course of designing an evaluation. The domains are health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, communication status, and motor abilities.

Due Process

A legal term that assures that persons with disabilities have the right to challenge any decision made on their behalf.

Due Process Hearing

A formal meeting held to settle disagreements between parents and schools in a way that is fair to the student, the parents, and the school. The meeting is run by an impartial hearing officer.


The length of time a student will need a special program or service during the school year or extended school year, as documented on the IEP.

Early Childhood

Programs and services provided to children with disabilities from age 3 through 5.

Early childhood Education ECE

The education of a child in grades K-5 (age range of birth through 9 years of age).

Early Childhood Intervention ECI

Programs designed to provide assistance to preschool age children with physical or developmental problems.

Early Intervention

Programs and services provided to infants and toddlers with disabilities from birth through age 3.

Early Intervening Services EIS

Assistance given to children who have not yet been identified as eligible for special education and related services under IDEA but who need extra help and support to progress in the general education environment. District can use no more than 15% of IDEA, Part B funds to develop and implement early intervening services. EIS emphasizes assistance to children in grades K-3. EIS may also be used with children in grades 4-12. EIS funds may be used for professional development of teachers and other school staff.

Education Department General Administration Regulations Complaint EDGAR Complaint

A complaint filed with a state agency under rules promulgated as (federal) Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) that each state have a means for receiving complaints that federal laws are being violated.

Education records

All records about the student that are maintained by an educational agency or institution; includes instructional materials, teacher’s manuals, films, tapes, test materials and protocols.

Eligibility Conference

A conference held to determine, review, terminate, or consider changes in a student’s eligibility for special education.

Eligibility Conference Summary Report

A written report containing a summary of the results of the evaluation and the determination of eligibility for special education.


A decision that determines a student meets the requirements for and is in need of special education and related services. The decision is based on the results of the evaluation and the conclusions reached at the eligibility conference.

Emotional Disability ED

Disability category under IDEA. A condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors. An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers. Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances. A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression. A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems. Emotional disability includes schizophrenia.

English as a Second Language ESL

English learned in an environment where it is the predominant language of communication.

English for Speakers of Other Languages ESOL

English instruction for persons who speak a language other than English.

English Language Learner EL

Someone who speaks a language other than English and is learning to speak and understand the English language.


Collecting information about a student and any problems that may affect his/her educational development for the purpose of determining eligibility for special education and related services. The evaluation may include giving individualized tests, observing the student, looking at records, and talking with the student and his/her parents (see also assessment).


Anything tangible that is produced and admitted in evidence during a trial.

Extended School Day

A provision for a student who receives special education services to have instruction for a period longer than the standard school day. This sometimes includes “double” kindergarten, later afternoons, or earlier starting times.

Extended School Year Services ESY

A provision for a special education student to receive instruction during ordinary school “vacation” periods. Purpose is to prevent serious regression of previously learned skills that cannot be regained in a reasonable length of time with the intent being to maintain IEP goals and objectives, not to introduce new skills. The IEP team determines eligibility for ESY services.

Family Education Rights and Privacy Act FERPA

A federal law that regulates the management of student records and disclosure of information from those records. The Act has its own administrative enforcement mechanism.

Fiscal Year FY

A twelve-month period used for calculating yearly financial reports. Most schools use the state fiscal year which runs from July 1 to June 30.

Free Appropriate Public Education FAPE

The words used in the federal law (IDEA) to describe the right of students with disabilities to receive special education and related services which meet his/her individual learning needs, at no cost to the parents.

Functional Behavioral Assessment FBA

A process to improve understanding of problem behavior in order to identify what skills need to be taught. The process includes observation, interviews, and data collection to identify when, where, and why the behavior is occurring.

General curriculum

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


Person appointed by the court to represent the rights of minors.

Head Start HS

A child development program for children ages 3 to 5 and their families that focuses on increasing the school readiness of young children from low-income families by increasing opportunities for learning.

Hearing Impairment HI

A hearing impairment is one that is either permanent or fluctuating and that adversely affects a child’s educational performance, but that is not included under the definition of deafness.

Hearing Officer HO

An impartial person in charge of a due process hearing who issues a written decision based upon the evidence and witnesses presented at the hearing.

Illinois Freedom of Information Act IFOIA

This statute regulates access to public records. It is useful for accessing the policies and minutes of public bodies, but does not provide for access to individual student records.

Illinois Revised Statutes or Illinois School Code ILCS

Chapter 122. Commonly called the “Illinois School Code.” It includes state law regulating the operation of public schools. Article 14 is specific to special education matters.

Illinois Student Records Act ISRA

A portion of the school code regulating the management of all student records whether or not those students have disabilities.

Illinois State Board of Education ISBE

The state agency responsible for educational services.

Independent Educational Evaluation IEE

An assessment conducted by someone who is not employed by the school district. The person(s) completing the assessment must be fully trained and qualified.

Individual Family Service Plan IFSP

The document which outlines the services to be delivered to families of infants and toddlers receiving special services.

Individualized Education Program IEP

The written educational program for a student receiving special education and related services with goals and objectives to be attained during a calendar year, that is developed and implemented to meet unique educational needs.

Individualized Education Program (IEP) Conference

A meeting held annually to develop, review, and consider changes in a student’s special education and related services and educational placement.

Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team

The group of individuals enumerated who determines the special education and related services to be provided to an eligible student. The IEP team and other qualified professionals are required to participate in meetings when identifying specific assessments, determining eligibility, and conducting manifestation determination reviews.

Individualized functional assessment IFA

An assessment that examines whether a child can engage in age-appropriate activities effectively.

Individualized transition plan ITP

Transition services begin when a student is ready to transition from high school to postsecondary education, vocational training, independent employment, continuing and adult education, adult services, or independent living. When transition services begin for students with an IEP, they will complete a transition planning interview to identify their needs. The IEP team will use this information to develop an ITP, which is designed to accomplish the student’s goals.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 IDEA


The federal law mandating that all children with disabilities have available to them a free, appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for employment and independent living.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Law Reporter IDELR

Individuals with Disabilities Education Law Reporter. Specialized full text reporting service publishes policy letters and administrative level actions as well as case law.

Initiation Date

The date, month, and year in which a program or service will begin as documented on the IEP.

In-school suspension ISS

An alternative placement program that allows students to come to school, but they are not allowed to attend regular class. They are placed in an isolated, supervised, small-group setting where they can still complete their school work.


Written questions served on a party that must be answered under oath before trial; method of discovery.

Joint agreement

Also called a “cooperative.” A joint agreement is a voluntary association of school districts who join together to provide special education services.


Order by a court

Learning Disability LD

An eligibility category under IDEA. A neurological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to receive, process, store and respond to information. A person may have difficulties in the areas of reading, writing, mathematics, listening, and/or speaking.

Least Restrictive Environment LRE

A requirement of IDEA. This provision describes procedures that ensure, to the maximum extent appropriate; students with disabilities are educated with students who are not disabled. The IEP team must determine the LRE for each student based on his or her individual needs.

Limited English Proficient LEP

A term used to describe a student who is not fully proficient in English, speaks a language other than English at home, and does not demonstrate English language skills of comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing at a level that would allow him to be placed in a mainstream class setting where only English is spoken.

Local Educational Agency LEA

Local education agency or school district

Manifestation Determination Review MDR

A meeting of the IEP team convened by the school to determine whether the behavior of a student who receives special education services was caused by the student’s disability.


A process in which parents and school personnel try to settle disagreements with the help of a trained mediator provided by ISBE.


A federal-state public medical assistance program administered by the Illinois Department of Public Aid that enables eligible recipients to obtain medical benefits outlined within the state Medicaid guidelines.

Medical Services

Related service. Includes services provided by a licensed physician to determine a child’s medically related disability that results in the child’s need for special education and related services.


Substantial changes in what the student is expected to demonstrate; includes changes in instructional level, content, and performance criteria, may include changes in test form or format; includes alternate assessments.

Multiple disabilities

Multiple disabilities means a combination of various impairments that cause such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments. Multiple disabilities does not include deaf-blindness.

Native language

Language normally used by the child’s parents.

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 NCLB

Its purpose is to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging state academic achievement standards and state academic assessments.


Mandatory written notice provided to parents before the school’s proposal or refusal to initiate or change the student’s identification, evaluation, or educational placement. Notice in the parent’s native language must also be provided in advance of any scheduled IEP meetings.

Occupational Therapist OT

A trained professional who provides occupational therapy.

Occupational Therapy OT

A special education related service which is usually focused upon the development of a student’s fine motor skills and/or the identification of adapted ways of accomplishing activities of daily living when a student’s disabilities prevents him/her from doing those tasks in typical ways (e.g. modifying clothing so a person without arms can dress himself/herself).

Office of Civil Rights OCR

The federal agency that serves student populations facing discrimination and the advocates and institutions promoting solutions to civil rights problems. An important responsibility is resolving complaints of discrimination, as well as developing creative approaches to preventing and addressing discrimination.

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services OSERS

An agency of the federal government’s executive branch within the Department of Education.

Office of Special Education Programs OSEP

Part of the U.S. Department of Education, its goal is to improve results for infants, toddlers, children and adolescents with disabilities ages birth through 21 by providing leadership and financial support to assist states and local districts.


Formal written decision by judge or court; contains the legal principles and reasons upon which the decision was based.

Orthopedic Impairment OI

An orthopedic impairment means a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by a congenital anomaly, impairments caused by disease (e.g., poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures).

Other Health Impairments OHI

Other health impairment means having limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that—

  • Is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette syndrome;
  • Adversely affects a child’s educational performance.



Natural or adoptive parent; a guardian, but not the State if the child is a ward of the State; a person acting in the place of a parent (e.g., a grandparent or step-parent with whom the child lives, or a person legally responsible for the child’s welfare); or an educational surrogate parent.

Parent-Teacher Association PTA

A school district-based group that is part of the National PTA.

Permanent Record

A file that includes the following information: parent name(s) and address(es), student name, address, birth date, birth place, gender, transcripts, grades, class rank, graduation date, grade level achieved, scores on college entrance exams, attendance reports, accident reports, health records, release of information forms, honors/awards received, and participation in school sponsored activities and events.

Physical Therapist PT

A trained professional who provides physical therapy.

Physical Therapist Assistant PTA

A professional who works under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist and provides rehabilitative services to students with physical or developmental impairments.

Physical Therapy PT

Instructional support and treatment of physical disabilities provided by a trained physical therapist, under a doctor’s prescription, that helps the student remediate gross motor skills and improve the use of bones, muscles, joints, and nerves.


Where the IEP will be carried out. The placement decision is made by the IEP team, including the parents and others who know about the child, what the evaluation results mean, and what types of placements are appropriate. The parents have the right to be members of the group that decides the educational placement of the child. Placement decisions must be made according to IDEA’s least restrictive environment requirements— commonly known as LRE. These requirements state that, to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities must be educated with children who do not have disabilities.


A court decision that will influence similar cases in the future.

Pre-Kindergarten PRE-K

The year of education that occurs before kindergarten. The goal of pre-K is to promote school readiness so that children have a better chance of later success in school.

Present Levels of Performance PLOP

A required IEP component, statements in an IEP that specifically describe what a student can or cannot do.

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 educational placement of the student.

Pro Se

Representing oneself without assistance of legal counsel.

Procedural Safeguards

Precautions taken to insure that an individual’s rights are not denied without due process of law.

Procedural Safeguards Notice

Requirement that schools provide a full and easily understood explanation of procedural safeguards at least once a year to parents. It must include information on independent educational evaluation, prior written notice, parental consent access to records, complaint process, mediation process, due process and the child’s placement during due process, interim alternative educational settings, private school placements by parents at public expense, disclosure of evaluation results and recommendations, state-level appeals, civil action, and attorney’s fees.

Psychological services

A related service that includes administering psychological and educational tests, interpreting test results and student behavior related to learning. Can include services such as student and parent counseling.


Person with an advanced degree who specializes in administering and evaluating psychological tests including intelligence, aptitude, and interest tests. A psychologist could also provide counseling and apply principles of human behavior.

Reasonable Accommodation

Modifications of a facility or program that can be accomplished without undue administrative or financial burden.


An assessment that occurs every three years, or more if needed, to determine continued eligibility for special education.


The process of requesting that a student be evaluated for special education and related services. Any concerned person may refer a student, including teachers, principals, parents, other agency personnel, or the student.


The amount of loss of skills a child experiences over an instructional break (primarily summer vacation) and the amount of time it takes him/her to recover the lost skills. Standards for when regression and recoupment concerns require ESY are noted in case law and in state and federal policy letters.

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

IDEA requires that school districts provide whatever related services (other than medical care which is not for diagnostic purposes) a child needs in order to benefit from his or her special education program. Related services are support services needed by a student in order to benefit from special education services. These may include, but are not limited to, speech-language pathology and audiology services, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, early identification and assessment, counseling, rehabilitation counseling, orientation and mobility services, school health services, social work services, parent counseling, and training.

Response to Intervention RtI

The response-to-intervention (RtI) model is also often called the Three-Tiered Model. Under IDEA 2004, school districts can use this model as an alternative to the discrepancy model, as a process of determining whether a student has a learning disability.

School Day

Any day, including a partial day, during the regular school year that students are in attendance at school for instructional purposes.

School Health Services

Related service; services provided by a qualified school nurse or other qualified person.


A review of all children in a given group to identify those students who may need an evaluation to determine the need for special education services.

Section 504

Provision of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which prohibits recipients of federal funds from discrimination against persons with disabilities. An evolving area of administrative procedures. School districts must make a Section 504 hearing process available; but that process need not be the same as the IDEA hearing mechanism.


Conclusion of a legal matter by agreement of opposing parties in a civil suit before judgment is made.

Short-Term Instructional Objectives/Benchmarks STO

Statements in an IEP that describe the steps that allow the student to reach the annual goals.

Special Education

Special education means specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.

Specific Learning Disability SLD

Specific learning disability means 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 to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. Disorders not included—Specific learning disability does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of cognitive disability, of emotional disability, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

Speech Language Pathologist SLP

Sometimes referred to as speech therapists or speech teachers, these professionals assess, diagnose, treat students who need help with speech, language, cognitive, communication, voice, swallowing, fluency and other related disorders.

Speech or Language Impairment SLI

Speech or language impairment means a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

Speech Therapy

Process for remediation of speech disorders, such as stuttering, lisping, misarticulation, conducted by a qualified speech-language pathologist on an individualized or small group basis.

Standardized Tests

Tests which have norms reflecting a larger population (usually these are age or grade based norms reflecting the performance of children throughout the country on the same tests).

State Education Agency SEA

State departments of education. i.e., Illinois State Board of Education.

Statute of Limitations

Time within which a legal action must be commenced.

Statutory Law

Written law enacted by legislative bodies.

Statutory Rights

Rights protected by statute, as opposed to constitutional rights that are protected by the Constitution.

Student Support Team SST

Student support team, can also be called student assistance team (SAT): a team of school professionals (including classroom teachers, curriculum specialist, school psychologist, speech-language therapist, and principal or assistant/vice principal,) and parents who meet to discuss problems a child is having in general education classes. The goal of SST is to discuss ways in which to assist a child so that his learning or behavior problems minimize the effect they have on his or her education.

Supplementary Aids and Services

Aids, services, and other supports provided in general education classes or other educational settings to enable children with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled children to the maximum extent appropriate (in the least restrictive environment). They are required under IDEA.

Surrogate Parent

An individual trained and appointed by ISBE to exercise special education rights on behalf of children with disabilities who are wards of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) or are otherwise without access to parents.


Removal from all school programs by administrative action for gross disobedience or misconduct.

Telecommunication Devices for the Deaf TDD

Special telephones with typewriter keyboards and visual displays that provide people who are deaf with access to telephones.

Temporary record

A file that includes, but is not limited to, family background information, intelligence test scores, aptitude test scores, special education evaluations, achievement level test results, participation in extracurricular activities, disciplinary information, eligibility conference summary reports, IEPs, reports or information from noneducational persons or agencies, and other information of relevance to the education of the student. Access is governed by the Illinois Student Records Act.


Evidence given by a person as distinguished from evidence from writings and other sources.


Official record taken during a trial or hearing by an authorized stenographer.

Transition planning

At a minimum, this is planning for adolescents’ post school lives and must begin by age 14-1/2. Helping a student transition from school to adult life. This requires effective planning, school experiences, services, and supports so that he/she can achieve his desired outcome.

Transition services

Transition services means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that—

• that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to assist in the child’s movement from school to post school activities:

• is based on the individual child’s needs, taking into account the child’s strengths, preferences, and interests.

Traumatic Brain Injury TBI

Traumatic brain injury means an acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Traumatic brain injury applies to open or closed head injuries resulting in impairments in one or more areas, such as cognition; language; memory; attention; reasoning; abstract thinking; judgment; problem-solving; sensory, perceptual, and motor abilities; psychosocial behavior; physical functions; information processing; and speech. Traumatic brain injury does not apply to brain injuries that are congenital or degenerative, or to brain injuries induced by birth trauma.

Visual Impairment VI

Visual impairment includes any type of sight problem which, even with glasses/contacts, adversely affects school performance. Children with visual impairments can be further described as partially sighted or blind based on the degree of visual impairment and their educational needs.


Means a “dangerous weapon” as defined in the United States Code [Weapon, device, instrument, material, or substance, animate or inanimate that is used for or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury, except that such term does not include a packet knife with a blade of less than 2½ inches in length (18 USC 930(g)(2)).

Educational Rights and Responsibilities: Understanding Special Education in Illinois