I. Child Advocacy

     A. School Law

          1. Special Education


A Guide to IDEA Acronyms and Initialisms


The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (“IDEA”) and its regulations are full of terms that are commonly reduced to acronyms or initialisms. This article aims to provide meaning to the most prevalent of those.



Assistive Technology Device. An Assistive Technology Device (ATD) can be any item, piece of equipment, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a child with a disability.



Assistive Technology Service. An Assistive Technology Service (ATS) is any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an Assistive Technology Device (ATD).



Core Academic Subjects. The Core Academic Subjects (CAS) are English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography.



Early Intervening Services.  The term Early Intervening Services (EIS) means developmental services that are designed to meet the developmental needs of an infant or toddler with a disability, as identified in the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) Team, in the areas of physical, cognitive, communication, social or emotional, and/or adaptive development.  Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) requires states to have policies to ensure that EIS are available to all infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.



Educational Service Agency. An Educational Service Agency (ESA) means a regional public multi-service agency that is both (1) authorized by state law to develop, manage, and provide services or programs to local educational agencies; and (2) recognized as an administrative agency for purposes of the provision of special education and related services provided within public elementary schools and secondary schools of the state. The term ESA includes any other public institution or agency having administrative control and direction over a public elementary school or secondary school.



Free Appropriate Public Education. A Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) consists of special education and related services that (1) have been provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge; (2) meet the standards of the State Educational Agency (SEA); (3) include an appropriate preschool, elementary school, or secondary school education in the state involved; and (4) are provided in conformity with the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).



Highly Qualified Teacher. A Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT) is one who meets the standards of not only the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) but also the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.



Independent Educational Evaluation. An Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) is an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner
who is not employed by the public agency responsible for the education of the child in question. Subject to government regulations, a parent has the right to an IEE at public expense if the parent disagrees with an evaluation obtained by the public agency.



Individualized Education Program. An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written statement for a child with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised in accordance with the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA).



Individualized Family Service Plan.  Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) requires states to maintain systems to provide for each infant or toddler with a disability, and the infant's or toddler's family, to receive a written Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), developed by a multi-disciplinary team, including the parents, which includes a description of the appropriate transition services for the infant or toddler.



Impartial Hearing Officer. An Impartial Hearing Officer (IHO), not employed by the public agency or otherwise conflicted in the matter, will be appointed to conduct and make a decision on the Due Process Hearing.



Location Educational Agency. A Location Educational Agency (LEA) is either a public board of education or another public authority legally constituted within a state for either administrative control or direction of (or to perform a service function for) public elementary schools or secondary schools within a city, county, township, school district, or other political subdivision of a state, or for such combination of school districts or counties as are recognized in a state as an administrative agency for its public elementary schools or secondary schools.



Limited English Proficient. A Limited English Proficient (LEP) individual is an individual aged 3 through 21 who is enrolled or preparing to enroll in elementary school or secondary school; who (due to his/her background) has difficulties in speaking, reading, writing, or understanding English; and whose difficulties in English might be sufficient to deny the individual (1) the ability to meet the state’s proficient level of achievement on state assessments, (2) the ability to achieve successfully in classrooms where English is the language of instruction, or (3) the opportunity to participate fully in society.



National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard.  The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standards (NIMAS) is the standard to be used in the preparation of electronic files suitable and used solely for efficient conversion into specialized formats.  Specialized formats means   Braille, audio, or digital text which is exclusively for use by blind or other persons with disabilities; and with respect to print instructional materials, includes large print formats when such materials are distributed exclusively for use by blind or other persons with disabilities.


Office of Special Education Programs.  The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is part of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, which is within the federal Department of Education.  OSEP is the principal agency in the Department of Education for administering and carrying out the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) and other programs and activities concerning the education of children with disabilities.



Response To Intervention.  The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) requires that state criteria for determining whether or not a child has a specific learning disability (SLD) must permit the use of a process based on the child's Response To Intervention (RTI) which is scientific and research based.



State Educational Agency. A State Educational Agency (SEA) is either the state board of education or another agency or officer primarily responsible for the state supervision of public elementary schools and secondary schools. The SEA in Missouri is the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. In Illinois, the SEA is the State Board of Education.



Specific Learning Disability. A Specific Learning Disability (SLD) is a disorder in 1 or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language (spoke or written), which might manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations. The term SLD includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain  dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia; but it does not include a learning problem that is primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.


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