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Frequently used educational terms: learning and attention problems

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By Jan Baumel, M.S.

Emotional Disturbance (ED): Under current federal law, students with emotional, behavior or mental disorders are categorized as having an ED. A student may have this condition if he displays inappropriate behaviors and feelings, an inability to learn or develop interpersonal relationships and a general mood of unhappiness over a long period of time. 

Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE): Entitles a public school child with a disability to an educational program and related services to meet her unique educational needs at no cost to the parents; based on IEP; under public supervision and meets state standards

Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Federal law that provides for special education and related services to eligible children with disabilities

Individualized Education Program (IEP): Written plan to meet the unique educational needs of a child with a disability who requires special education services to benefit from the general education program; applies to kids enrolled in public schools

Informed Consent: Agreement in writing from parents that they have been informed and understand implications of special education evaluation and program decisions; permission is voluntary and may be withdrawn

Intelligence Quotient (IQ): Score used to indicate general cognitive ability; average range of intelligence, which includes 84 percent of the population, is 85 to 115

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): Educational instruction in a place that encourages maximum interaction between disabled and nondisabled kids and is appropriate to both

Learning Disability (LD): A neurobiological disorder that affects the way a person of average to above-average intelligence receives, processes or expresses information. LD impacts one's ability to learn the basic skills of reading, writing or math

Modification: Modifications are changes in the delivery, content or instructional level of a subject or test. They result in changed or lowered expectations and create a different standard for kids with disabilities than for those without disabilities

Multidisciplinary Team: Professionals with different training and expertise; may include, but not limited to, any combination of the following public school personnel - general education teacher, special education teacher, administrator, school psychologist, speech and language therapist, counselor - and the parent

Out-of-Level Testing: When a student who is in one grade is assessed using a level of a test developed for students in another grade. Below-grade-level testing is generally what is meant when the term "out-of-level testing" is used.

Jan Baumel, M.S., Licensed Educational Psychologist, spent 35 years in education as a teacher, school psychologist, and special education administrator before joining Schwab Learning. Today she is a consultant to local school districts and university field supervisor for student teachers.

Comments from readers

"I sure wish I knew about you and the services 5 years ago!!!!"
"Thank you! Going for a job interview in a couple hours and this was a wonderful recap of terminology and current practices used in Spec Ed."
"Want some additional information, answers to questions, or support? Please consider joining and posting them at the 'Learning and Attention Difficulties' group found here at GS to receive to receive practical suggestions from parents who have faced similar challenges:"
"Good Morning: I love your Web Site! Do you have any information or recommendations on public and/or private High Schools that are doing a great job helping students who have IEP's, and that need help with Math and or Language Arts? We have a daughter in the 10th grade. She does well in school and with extracurricular activities, but needs a little help. We find ourselves having to locate other options and don't know where to look. We have applied to other public shcools with a better reputation for students needing resorce help, via the permit process. We seem to run into the same problem..they either donot accept Permit Students that require Spec Ed. support, because they have to save their dollars for students that live in their district, or if they do accept Permit Students (Spec. Ed.) if you get accepted, they tell you that they cannot guarantee that your student will be able to continue through to graduation. Who wants to have their student at a school for possiblly one year! We appreciate any help that you can provide. Warmest Regards Mrs. C. "