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Special Education Disability Definitions, Accountability, And Compliance

Federal and State Department of Special Education Programs Handicapped Children Act (and its 1991 reauthorization as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)

Practice of "inclusion"
Flexability - Waivers

March 2, 2012 Effort to Strengthen Accountability for Students with Disabilities Moving from Compliance-Focused Approach to One Driven by Results
Right now, states can meet federal special education compliance standards, even if "student proficiency is nowhere near where it should be for reading." (Find your state's ratings here.) The department's action comes at the same time the federal agency has given some states leeway on how they meet the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law, disappointing advocacy groups. They worry that the waivers granted by the agency could make it easier for states to ignore lagging student performance for some groups, such as racial and ethnic minorities, English-language learners, and students with disabilities.

Department's Office of Special Education Programs

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

Since 1975 and the passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (and its 1991 reauthorization as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) public schools in the United States have been legally required to educate all students in a "least restrictive environment." Essentially, this means that students with disabilities are to be afforded the same learning opportunities as students without disabilities, as far as possible. One strategy to accomplish this goal is the practice of "inclusion" -- educating all students in the same classroom, to the extent appropriate--with the support of special education teachers, aides, and other resources. The National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET) coordinates national resources, offers technical assistance, and disseminates information related to secondary education and transition for youth with disabilities in order to create opportunities for youth to achieve successful futures.

On April 4, 2007
Secretary Spellings announced new regulations under the No Child Left Behind Act allowing states to assess certain students with disabilities using an alternate assessment.
Specifically, states may develop modified academic achievement standards based on grade-level content -- and alternate assessments based on those standards -- for students with disabilities who are capable of achieving high standards but who may not reach grade level in the same time as their peers. States may count proficient and advanced test scores on these alternate assessments for up to 2% of all students assessed when calculating Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under the law. These regulations build on flexibility already provided for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, where states may count up to 1% of proficient and advanced assessment scores based on alternate achievement standards toward the AYP calculation.
At the same time, the Secretary released guidance on the implementation of the new regulations, offering recommendations on such issues as how students with disabilities can be appropriately identified for this assessment. She also announced $21.1 million in grants to help states develop new assessments for these students and a Special Education Partnership for technical assistance (a July 2007 meeting with interested states, monthly teleconferences, etc.).
Plus, the Department's National Center on Education Statistics (NCES) has released a new issue brief on the timing of entry into special education and the primary grades in which students receive special services. About 12% of students receive special education in at least one grade: kindergarten, first-grade, and third-grade, including 16% of boys, 8% of girls, 18% of poor students, and 10% of non-poor students. Half of those who begin special education in kindergarten are no longer receiving special education by third-grade.

Many children in special education classes may not belong there, the government says.
A new policy 2007 is aimed at intervening early with intensive teaching to give struggling students a chance to succeed in regular classrooms and escape the ''special ed'' label. There are nearly seven million special education students in the United States, and roughly half have learning disabilities. Most of those are reading related, such as dyslexia or problems in processing information. The Bush administration, following passage of a broad special education law, issued rules in October that rewrote the way schools determine if a child has a learning disability. States have largely relied on a 1970s-era method that looks for disparities between a child's IQ and achievement scores. The diagnosis of a learning disability is often made around 4th grade, reports the Associated Press. At younger ages IQ tests are seen as less reliable, and it often takes that long for severe achievement problems to become apparent. But that, critics say, is a wait-to-fail approach. They point to research showing that intervening early can make it easier for children to overcome their problems.


Jason McElwain Basketball Star & Hoop Hero Video happens to be Autistic. The autistic manager of his high school hoops team gets a chance to play ... and scorches the nets for 20 pts. Transcript and video. also USA Today story - MSNBC VIDEO


Special Needs
FOR STUDENTS WITH IEPs AND /OR 504 PLANS are allowed to use their accommodations and modifications in testing situations.


EASI: Equal Access to Software and Information

LD Resources

CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology)


ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education

Special Education Jobs

SpEd section of the IDEA reauthorization, aka
A New Era: Revitalizing Special Education for Children and their Families

The CEC document quotes each major portion of the Commission's report and lists their response.Voice Recognition Systems.
Kurzweil Systems Educational Group

Millions of people around the world struggle with reading everyday. Whether due to blindness, learning disabilities, or a reading difficulty such as dyslexia, access to printed word is now possible thanks to the reading software developed by L&H's Kurzweil Educational Systems Group. This solution is made possible through the use of speech, language, and optical character recognition technology
Ray Kurzweil: A Career Summary
The Kurzweil Companies

Digital Divide issues, there is a substantial body of information on this issue on the Educational Cyberplayground.
The Digital Divide

Special Education Dictionary


moving the limbs away from the body

deviation from normal

activities of daily living (ADL)
Everyday skills the person needs to learn to function: eating,dressing, bathing, hygiene skills, communication skills

sudden onset and lasts a short period of time

adaptive development
How a child compares to other children the same age in regards to such things as motor development, speech and language skills, daily living skills etc.

ADA-Americans With Disabilities Act
a civil rights law passed in 1990 that does not allow discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, public service, and public accomodations

adaptive behavior
the individuals ability to act appropriately in social situations and to take care of their personal needs

adaptive physical education
physical education programs specified to meet the needs of special education students

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) (ADD)
student exhibits poor attention, distractibility, impulsitivity, and hyperactivity

moving the limbs toward the midline of the body

age norms
the average performance of an individual in various age groups

acquired after birth, accidental

a person who helps take action for someone else who is not able to

an observable emotion; anger, sadness, happiness

age appropriate
within the child's chronological age

air -bone gap
decibel difference between the air-conduction thresholds and the bone-conductive thresholds in one ear (usually 10 or more means there is a conductive problem)

reduced voluntary movement

the child does not use her eyesight in one eye (lazy eye)

the ability to move around without assistive devices

a change made in a law

American sign language (ASL) (Ameslan)
most common sign language for deaf adults in North America. It has its own grammer.

part of a hearing aid that increases the intensity or loudenss

absence of a limb

absence of cerebral tissue

irregular structure or function

no eyeball

a lack of oxygen to tissues which causes cell death or damage

annual goals
yearly goals documented in the Individualized Education Plan

muscles resisting actions of others

anterior fonanel
the "soft spot" on the top of the head that usually closes over by 18 months.

A feeling of panic which may cause palpitations sweating, and increased pulse rate

anxiety disorders
fear about people and places

medications to control seizures

APGAR score
score given to a newborn to identify infants at risk - coloring (appearance), heart rate, (pulse) muscle tone (activity), breathing (respiration), and response to stimuli (grimace) are assessed.

short stoppage of breathing

request, usually written to make a change in a decision

the most suitable situation possible

difficulty controlling voluntary muscular movements with usually no motor or sensory impairment

articulation disorders difficulty with the production of speech sounds

food or liquid entering the airway (trachea) below the level of the true vocal cords

aspiration pneumonia
inflammation to the lungs usually caused by food or liquid entering them

assessment testing and evaluation
used to decide if a person qualifies for special education services (may include social, psychological and education evaluations)

assessment team
a team of people such as the psychologist, speech pathologist, teacher, etc. who test the child

assistive technology
technology used to help a person with disabilities

a breathing disorder

blurred visuion caused by uneven curvature of lens or cornea

one side of the body is different from the other

poor balance

unwanted jerky repetitive movements

at risk
children who may or may not develop problems in their development that will affect their learning process

degeneration of the muscles

the written results in a graph form of a hearing test measured in decibels (loudness) for each frequency (pitch)

a specialist that tests and remediates hearing problems

auditory brainstem respnse (ABR)
A hearing test usually used with babies or other hard to test patients. The patient is usually asleep or lying very still.
Electrodes measure resting brain waves and when sound is made. Also specific medical problems that may affect the persons hearing such as tumors may be discovered.

auditory discrimination
the ability to detect differences in sounds

auditory training
learning to optimize residual hearing by focusing on sounds in the persons environment

augmentative communication
special devices that provide an alternative for spoken language

the current level the child is functioning at before instruction

affects both sides of the body

binocular vision
the use of two eyes to see a single image

a pattern of raised dots that are felt with fingers to help the blind read

the ability to sort objects by function, color, size, group,

cause and effect
the ability to understand that a specific actions can make something happen

loss of vision due to a cloudy lens

central nervous system
the nerves that travel along the spinal cord to and from the brain

cerebral palsy
a disorder of the central nervous system which affects muscle movement

cleft palate
an opening in the roof of the mouth

present at birth

closed caption decoder
a device that makes captions appear on a television

closed captioning
the deaf/hearing impaired are able to watch the tv program, movie, or video by reading words printed out on the screen

difficulty in learning in the areas of reasoning, comprehension and judgment

a repetitive act that an individual can not consciously

conductive hearing loss
a temporary or permanent hearing loss which occurs when something interferes with the passage of sound to the inner ear

a person replaces memory loss by a fantasy

a condition that is present at birth

advice given by a professional

criterion referenced test
child is evaluated according to own performance, not in
comparison to others

defense mechanism
ways an individual protects himself from emotions that are too uncomfortable

the intensity level of sound, loudness level

a level of performance lower than expected for a child

the person has an irrational belief that is associated with paranoia

depth perception
what the person is able to visually perceive at different

developmental disability
a condition that prevents a child from developing normally and often results in mental retardation or autism

developmental history
a record of the childs growth in areas such as walking,
learning and talking.

developmental tests
tests that compare a child's development to others the same age

developmentally delayed
a child who acquires skills after the expected age

the problem identified after an evaluation

a physical or mental problem that prevents someone from functioning at a normal rate

down's syndrome
a child born with chromosomal abnormalities which often results in mental retardation

due process
a procedure to help protect the rights of children with

a learning disability in which a child is unable to do math

a break in the smooth flow of speech,stuttering

a learning disability which impairs the childs ability to

learning disability which impairs the child's reading ability

early intervention services
identifying and treating children before the age of 3

the child echos what ever is spoken

qualifies for services

electroencephalogram (EEG)
it measures the output of the brain

a brain disorder characterized by seizures or convulsions


the cause

a process used to determine if a child qualifies for special education services

field of vision
the area a person can see around them without moving their eyes or head

fetal alchohol syncrome (FAS)
child may be born with low birth weight, severe retardation and physical problems due to mother drinking alcohol while pregnant

fine motor
hand and finger small muscle movement

finger spelling
hand shapes of the alphabet, a way for the deaf/hearing impaired to spell

free appropriate public education
a requirement that all school-aged children despite having a disability, be provided services in the public school system

It is measured in hertz - hz- the number of times a sound wave vibrates in a second

gait pattern
walking pattern

grandmal seizure
severe epileptic seizure which often resuls in a loss of

gross motor
coordinated movements of all body parts

a physical or mental problem that prevents someone from functioning at a normal rate

paralysis on one side of the body

hz, the pitch of a sound, the number of vibrations per second

homebound instruction
a teacher provided to students unable to attend school

enlargement of the head resulting from excess cerebral spinal fluid in the brain

excessive motor activity or restlessness

farsightedness-difficulty seeing near objects

increased muscle tone

decreased muscle tone

disabled children receive services in their home school and are placed in the same classroom with non-handicapped children

Individualized Education Program (IEP)
a yearly education plan written by teachers, therapists,
psychologists, etc. and the child's parents for school age children with disabilities

Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)
an education plan written by teachers, therapists,
psychologists, etc. and the child's parents for a child birth through 2 years old with disabilities

interdisciplinary team
various individuals from different disciplines that assess
children's needs (speech therapist, occupational therapist, nurse, psychologist, etc.)

a person who helps with the communication between the deaf/ hard of hearing community and the hearing community

juvenile diabetes
excessive sugar in the child's blood and urine which could cause visual impairments, coma, limb amputation, and death if untreated

language impairment
difficulty understanding and/or using language

learning disability
a child with average or above average potential has
difficulty learning in one or more areas (such as reading or math) and exhibits a severe discrepancy between their ability and achievement

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
an educational setting which gives students with disabilities a place to learn to the best of their ability and also have contact with children without disabilities

legally blind
a visual field which is not greater than 20 degrees or visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye after correction

light perception
ability to detect presence or absence of light

light projection
ability to tell where light is coming from

low vision
impaired vision but individual is able to read print with or
without magnification devices

some or all of the child's day is spent in a regular

mental age
the level of intellectual functioning based on the average
for children of the same chronological age

mental retardation
the child's intellectual level is measured below the average range usually below 70 on IQ tests

development of a small head with retardation usually occuring

motor development
the ability to move effectively within the environment

muscle tone
the amount of tension in the muscles at rest

a team of specialists such as a speech and language
pathologist, psychologist, occupational therapist, used to help determine the students needs

multiple sclerosis
degeneration of the central nervous system due to a
progressive deterioration of the protective sheath
surrounding the nerves

nearsightedness-blurred vision with distant objects harder to see than near objects

muscular dystrophy
destroys muscle tissue which leads to a progressive
deterioration of the body

native language
the child's primary language

a child makes up words that only have meaning to them

period between onset of labor and several months after birth

norm referenced tests
a child's performance is compared to others the same age

jerking of the eyes that can't be controlled

object permanence
the child is aware that an object still exists even when it
is taken away

a thought or action that a person does over and over again

occupational therapist
a therapist that focuses on daily living skills, sensory
integration, and fine motor skills

a medical doctor that deals with diseases and conditions of the eye

examines eyes and prescribes corrective lenses

orientation and mobility specialist
a certified teacher specializing in teaching the visually
impaired to travel safely and efficiently

otitis media
middle ear infection

an ear, nose and throat doctor

panic attack
symptoms of anxiety with no medical cause such as dizziness, palpitations, nausea etc.

complete or partial loss of feeling or movement

the person is extremely suspicious of others

the lower half of the body is paralyzed

partially sighted
individuals have sufficient vision to read print

peripheral vision
what the person sees outside of their field of vision by
moving their eyes, not their head

the period of time at or immediately following birth

repeating an activity to an extreme that it interferes with
other activities

petit mal seizures
a mild form of epilepsy with mementary lapse of consciousness

an irrational fear of something

physical therapist
provides evaluation and treatment of physical disabilities to help the person improve the use of bones, muscles, joints, and nerves through exercise and massage

the program that the team of specialists and parent decide is the most appropriate for the student

rules and regulations; as related to early intervention and special education programs, the rules that a state or local school system has for providing services for and educating its students with special needs

period of time after birth

period of time before birth

private agency
a non-public agency that uses public funds to provide
services for some children

private therapist a professional outside of the public school system or agency

artificial device that replaces a missing body part

a specialist in the field of psychology

person has difficulty differentiating between fantasy and

public agency
supported by public funds and provides services to the public

Public Law (P.L.) 94-142 (now called IDEA-Individuals with Education Act)
a law passed in 1975 that requires public schools to provide a free and appropriate public education to school-aged children ages 3-21 regardless of disability

Public Law (P.L.) 102-119, passed in 1991
an amendment to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to provide funds for states to serve infants and toddlers (ages birth through 2 years) with disabilities

all limbs are paralyzed

range of motion
the amount a person is able to move their joints and limbs

receptive language
the understanding of spoken and written communication as well as gestures

related services
Other support services that a child with disabilities
requires such as transportation, occupational, physical and speech pathology services, interpreters, and medical services

residual hearing
the amount of hearing that is left after a person has a
hearing loss

residual vision
the amount of vision that is left after the person has a loss of vision

resource room
a room that serves the children's needs to learn specific
skills within the least restrictive environment for part of
the day

a temporary burst of abnormal electrical activity in the

self contained class
a classroom specifically for special education students

sensorineural hearing loss
a hearing impairment that is usally permanent results when the inner ear or nerves which carry the sound waves to the brain are damaged

service coordinator
coordinator of an infant's or toddler's early intervention

sign language
using gestures instead of spoken words to communicate

signed English
sign language that follows English syntax and grammar

tense contracted muscles usually seen in people with cerebral palsy

special education programs/services
programs and services for children over 3 years old with special needs at no cost to families

special needs
- a child who has disabilities or who is at risk of
developing disabilities that may require special education services

speech/language pathologist
a person qualified who improves and/or corrects communication problems

spina bifida
child is born with an open vertebrae in the spinal column

disturbance in the fluency of speech

crossed eyes

tactile defensiveness
child overreacts or avoids any kind of touch

consistent and uncontrolled movments usually seen in people with cerebral palsy

total communication
educating deaf students with a combination of speech and sign language

telephone service for the deaf/hearing impaired

tunnel vision
the visually impaired person has the feeling of looking
through a tunnel

vision specialist
a certified teacher who specializes in meeting the needs of children with visual impairment

visual discrimination
ability to detect differences in objects, forms, letters or

visual acuity
how well a person perceives an object or letter from 20 feet

visual impairment
eyesight which cannot be corrected to normal

visual memory
the ability to remember visual stimuli by significant
features on a short and long term basis

vocal abuse
screaming, yelling or overuse of the vocal folds