15 Education Acronyms to Know for 2015

By Lindsey Lipsky, M.Ed.
Ten points if you can decipher the following paragraph!

Veronica is a 3rd grader who has ADHD. Veronica qualified for a 504 in 2nd grade under the category of OHI.  After being in RTI for two months this school year without progress, the IEP team is looking at beginning testing for SLD and possibly creating an IEP. In line with IDEA, ADA, and FAPE, Veronica needs to be taught in the LRE.  Veronica’s teacher, Mrs. L, is excellent and engages learners with UDL, DI, and PBL principals in the classroom, but now has to shift focus towards CCSS. Mom is hoping to get Veronica AT to help her be successful in the classroom.

How’d you do?? Not great? Don’t fret–you’re not alone!  Public education today is filled with enough technical jargon to confuse even the most learned scholar. But, have no fear, help is here! 

Check out this list of 15 Education Acronyms to Know for 2015 :

1.  ADHD: This stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Students with ADHD may have a hard time focusing, be overactive, not able control behavior, or a combination of these. Some great support and articles are available at www.understood.org.

2. 504: This stands for a Section 504 Plan of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against public school students with disabilities. A 504 Plan is designed to help students with learning and/or attention issues participate with accommodations they need for school.

3. OHI: Other Health Impairment, or OHI, is a special education eligibility category for students who have “limited strength, vitality or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli… that is due to chronic or acute health problems.” Some examples include Epilepsy, Diabetes, ADD/ADHD, heart condition, Tourette’s Syndrome, and more. Read this article for more information.

4. RtI: Response to Intervention (RtI) is a multi-tier approach to the early identification and support of students with varying learning/emotional needs within the general education classroom.  Check out the RtI Action Network for more information at http://www.rtinetwork.org/.

5.  IEP: Perhaps the most commonly used special education acronym, the Individual Education Plan, or IEP, is a legal document created by a team of professionals and parents for a student which outlines a student’s disability category, present levels of educational performance, accommodations, modifications, annual goals, and more. Check out this IEP Checklist from the Exceptional Children’s Assistance Center for help.

6.  SLD: Specific Learning Disability or Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) is one of the 13 disability categories outlined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). SLD is an umbrella term and can be further specified by difficulties in reading, writing, spelling, mathematics, reasoning, recalling, organizing information, and more. Check out the National Center for Learning Disabilities website at http://www.ncld.org/ or read this article from the Learning Disabilities Association of America for a wealth of information on this topic.

7. IDEA: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, outlines 13 special education disability categories for students to qualify for special education services.  IDEA was originally passed in 1975 to ensure that students with disabilities would have access to the same educational opportunities as their non-disabled peers, and was last amended in 2004.  For information about IDEA 2004, visit http://idea.ed.gov/.

8.  ADA: The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is a civil disability law that “prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation.”  Visit www.ada.gov for more information.

9.  FAPE: Free Appropriate Public Education, or FAPE, refers to the provision that schools must meet the educational needs of individuals with disabilities to the same extent that the needs of non-disabled individuals are met. Check out this great infographic on FAPE by Understood.org.

10.  LRE: Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), is a federal mandate under IDEA calling for students with disabilities to be served in special classes, separate schools, or other positions only when deemed necessary by the severity or nature of a child’s disability. By and large, LRE states that students must be educated in the same environment as their non-disabled peers to the greatest extent possible.

11.  UDL: Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework for teaching that identifies the needs of diverse learners first in terms of teaching environment, accessibility, curriculum design, and learning styles. The principal of UDL is that there is no “one size fits all approach” to teaching, and that doing what is best for students with special needs, can often benefit all. Check out http://www.cast.org/udl/ for more information.

12.  DI: Differentiated Instruction (DI) is the way in which a teacher anticipates, modifies, and responds to a variety of individualized student needs in the classroom. Under DI, teachers create varying content (what is being taught), process (how it is taught) and product (how students demonstrate their learning) within the classroom. Visit http://www.caroltomlinson.com/ for more information on DI.

13.  PBL: Project or Problem Based Learning (PBL) is a teaching methodology that allows students to investigate, analyze and examine a problem or project for an extended period of time. Within PBL, educators often use hands-on experiments, outside classroom experiences, and more to help students acquire deeper knowledge of a specified learning objective. Check out this great website by Jerry Blumengarten, @Cybraryman, on PBL.

14.  CCSS: In 2010, a number of states across the nation adopted the same standards for English and Math called the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Since that time, 46 states and the District of Columbia have adopted Common Core.  Visit www.corestandards.org for more information.

15. AT: Assistive Technology, or AT, is any item, equipment, product, software or system, that is used to increase, maintain, and improve the functional capabilities of a student with a disability. Check out the SETT Framework by Dr. Joy Zabala or the Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative (WATI) for more information on AT and its implementation.

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Have any other educational acronyms you’d like to share? Leave them in the comments below or contact me on twitter @LindseyLipsky.