Below is a list of terminology used in the educational special needs community and more so every day in the home schooling realm of special needs.  By providing this list of commonly used acronyms, terms, and identifiers THSC hopes to help bridge the gap between how the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and Texas home schoolers label specific special needs processes and papers and ultimately better equip special needs home schooling parents to advocate for their children’s needs in the larger special needs community.

504 – Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

Accommodations – A listing of items that, if provided, allow a student to meet the same educational standards as his/her peers.

ADA – American Disabilities Act of 1990

Annual Goals – Measurable goals, defined in a student’s IEP, which are broken down over the school year into smaller goals to promote regular monitoring and documentation of progress.

ARD – (Admission, Review, and Dismissal) In Texas public schools, this is the process and the committee which initially review a request to provide a child special needs services.

Assessment – A test given to a student to evaluate learning deficiencies, progress in milestones, and/or provide a baseline for setting educational goals.

Assistive Technology – A physical device or technological means which help a student compensate for a particular physical, educational, and/or mental disability.

DARS – (Texas Department of Assistive & Rehabilitative Services). As of September 1, 2016, programs and services previously administered or delivered by the former Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) have been transferred by the Texas Legislature to the Texas Workforce Commission or the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. (See how the former DARS services were divided between the two agencies.)

ESSA – (Every Student Succeeds Act) reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) and replaced the No Child Left Behind Act. (Read this analysis of how ESSA intersects with disabilities issues.)

Evaluation – A means of collecting data from a student to evaluate learning deficiencies, progress in milestones, and/or provide a baseline for setting educational goals.

FAPE – (Free and Appropriate Public Education) The term used to reflect the mandate that public education entities must provide services to special needs children.

Guardianship – When an individual over the age of 17 is deemed “incapacitated” by Texas state law and another person is given the right to make legal decisions for him/her.

IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004

IEP – (Individual Education Program/Plan) A program/plan specifically developed for a special needs student which identifies specific mental, physical and educational deficits, describes the current baseline for that student’s learning, gives modifications and accommodations recommended for that student’s ability to perform in an educational setting, and also usually includes a list of annual goals along with measurable evaluation standards and periods.

Modifications – A list which specifies the difference in what a student is expected to learn in  relation to his/her educational peer group.

PACER – Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights

Personal Graduation Plan – A plan developed for a student who is unable to meet a specific standard of grade appropriate achievement during, and or after, his/her 5th year of high school.