• Glossary of Frequently Used Special Education Terms





    Provisions made in how a student accesses/demonstrates learning.

    Does not substantially change instructional level or content.

    Adequate Progress

    Progress that indicates the student is making gains that will allow him to reach grade level expectations set by the ARD committee or the SAT (Student Assistance Team) or state expectations


    Measuring progress toward a goal to obtain pre-defined information; evaluative in nature; used to inform instructional changes

    Balanced Literacy

    Literacy instruction that includes appropriate and equitable focus on the following components:

  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary
  • Phonemic Awareness
  • Word Study
  • Comprehension
  • Writing
  • Curriculum Based Measurement (CBM)

    A way of tracking and recording a child’s progress in specific learning areas; teachers regularly assess using brief, simple tests to determine whether students are learning from their instructional program and to provide teacher with information to tailor instruction for a particular student.

    Evidence-based practices

    Refer to strategies, processes, and curricula for shich information exists to support adoption and sustained use.  “Evidence” may come from three sources: scientific studies, program evaluation, or case study/testimonial.


    Easy for teachers to use and capable of being carried out in the general classroom

    Fidelity (or Integrity)

    The degree to which a planned intervention is implemented as designed

    Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Revised 2004

    Federal law which states that in determining whether a child has a specific learning disability, a local education agency:

  • Shall not be required to take into consideration whether a child has a severe discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability
  • May use a process that determines if the child responds to scientific, research-based intervention
  • May use up to 15% of its federal funding to develop and implement services for students who have not been identified as needing special education or related services but who need additional academic and behavioral support to succeed in the general education environment.
  • Intervention

    A change in instructing a student in the area of learning or behavioral difficulty to try to improve performance and achieve adequate progress.

    Intervention Plan

    A written plan devised by a team of concerned professionals which:

  • Identifies the problem
  • Gives baseline assessment data
  • Lists measurable goals
  • Defines a way to regularly monitor progress
  • Answers questions including who will do what, when they will do it, where the intervention will be implemented, and how the steps will be completed
  • Intervention Team

    Grade-level or content area teams that monitor progress of a student and provide suggestions for Tier 1 interventions


    Changes in what a student is expected to learn and demonstrate. Could change course content or curriculum (usually made by an ARD committee) that are specific to the needs of individual students.


    Placement of a student in a tier, either up or down, based on assessment and ongoing progress monitoring

    A scientifically based practice used to assess students’ academic performance and to insure and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction (with individual students or an entire class) through:
  • Direct observation
  • Behavior rating scales
  • Self reports
  • Manualized (published) / scripted interventions
  • Permanent products
  • Peer Reviewed

    Research is scrutinized by peers

    Positive Behavior Support (PBS)

    Describes a process for addressing children’s challenging behavior that is based on an understanding of the purpose of the behavior and a focus on teaching new skills to replace challenging behavior.


    A prescribed, research-based methodology for instruction

    Progress Monitoring

    Determining a students on-going response to intervention and the effectiveness of interventions; carried out during and after implementation of interventions, also:

  • Examines the effectiveness of an intervention
  • Documents progress
  • Provides accountability
  • Determines changes necessary
  • Reliable

    Consistently produces the same results


    Can be repeated

    Response to Intervention

    The practice of:

  • Providing high-quality instruction and intervention matched to student need
  • Monitoring progress frequently to make decisions about change in instruction and goals
  • Applying the child’s response data to important education decisions.
  • Scientific, research-based instruction

    Curriculum and educational interventions that are backed by rigorous evidence, have proven track records, and are reliable, valid, peer reviewed and replicable, they have been proven to be effective for most students


    A component of a program for instruction

    Student Assistance Team (SAT)

    Campus decision makers who come together to evaluate and determine student instructional programs and changes in those programs

    Tiered model

    Focus on discovering how to make the student more successful rather than focusing on the student’s lack of success:

  • Tier 1:  Implemented for all students, effective instructional environment, preventive and proactive, effective for 80-90 percent of students
  • Tier 2:  Targeted interventions; implemented for some students (10%); supplements core curriculum; bi-weekly progress monitoring
  • Tier 3:  Intensive interventions; implemented for small percentage of students (5%); longer-term interventions; may lead to special education or dyslexia referral
  • Tier 4:  Most intensive interventions; special education or Dyslexia programs
  • Universal screening

    A step taken by school personnel 3 times per school year to determine which students are at risk for not meeting grade level standards


    Measures what it claims to measure

    Written Intervention Plan

    An individualized plan for students in need of intensive Tier 3 instruction.  The plan should contain:

  • Description of specific intervention
  • Length of time allowed for positive effect
  • Number of minutes per day
  • Person responsible for providing intervention
  • Location
  • Factors for judging student success
  • Description of the progress monitoring approach
  • Progress monitoring schedule
  • Frequency of reports