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Glossary of terms: Inclusive Education

Common technical terms used in documents dealing with inclusive education.


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An adjustment made to an environment, situation, or supplies for individual differences. Moving desks to make wider spaces between them is an accommodation that could be made for a student in a wheelchair.



A change in what students do or a reshaping of the materials students use. Adaptations are essentially the same as modifications, but can specifically refer to the materials and equipment students use to aid in learning. Enlarging the print on a worksheet and audiotaping a textbook are examples of adaptations.


Affective learning

The area of learning related to emotions or feelings, rather than thought or knowledge.



A term used to identify students who could benefit from some type of short-term support. These students run the risk of not succeeding for one of many reasons, from poor academic skills to excessive absences to personal problem situations.



Behavior contract

An agreement between a student or group of students and a teacher or para listing specific actions each person is to demonstrate, the rewards the student will receive for completing the task, and the consequences for failing to do so; also called a contingency contract.



Case manager

The special education teacher or therapist, Title I teacher, or at-risk coordinator who is responsible for the implementation, coordination, monitoring, and/or evaluation of a student's special-needs program. A case manager should be a certified staff member and is responsible for the paperwork on a student's program.


Cognitive learning

The area of learning based on knowledge and reasoning; also called academic learning. Compare to affective learning.



To work, plan, and problem solve with other staff members and professionals in a cooperative manner, sharing responsibilities while utilizing the individual strengths and skills of each person.


Compensation or compensatory instruction

Instruction aimed at "getting around" a problem or an area of difficulty. Techniques for compensatory instruction include the use of alternative instruction, alternative techniques, and adaptive equipment. Compensatory instruction for a student having a low reading level could include using books on tape or reading the material read aloud to him or her.



The privacy of information about students and their families. Confidential information may be about problems and disabilities, test scores, background, etc. Paras and other educators are required by law to respect the confidentiality of this information.



An instructional arrangement in which there is more than one adult in a classroom, instructional and classroom responsibilities are defined and assigned, and some type of co-planning is involved. The use of the term co-teaching in this book does not refer to a specific model, and any other adult in the classroom can be called a co-teacher.



General classroom

A general education class, such as a third grade class or sophomore English class.




To do or put into action. Student goals and objectives are often implemented in the classroom by the paraeducator.



An educational philosophy aimed at "normalizing" special services for which students qualify. Inclusion involves an attempt to provide more of these special services by providing additional aids and support inside the regular classroom, rather than by pulling students out for isolated instruction. Inclusion involves the extension of general education curricula and goals to students receiving special services. Finally, inclusion involves shared responsibility, problem solving, and mutual support among all the staff members who provide services to students.


Inclusive classroom

A classroom in which children with a diversity of learning needs and abilities share instructional space and all staff members who are responsible for providing support work together to benefit all the students in the class. A variety of services are provided and a variety of student needs are met inside the regular classroom.


Individualized education program (plan) (IEP)

A written plan of educational goals and objectives for a student. This plan is reviewed and rewritten each year.


Individual family service plan (IFSP)

A written plan of special support goals and services provided to infants and toddlers, as well as their families.


Individual transition plan (ITP)

A written plan of transition goals, objectives, or actions included in the IEP of special education students over the age of 14 or 16.



Least restrictive environment

A special education term meaning the placement in which a student has the best opportunity to achieve with the least amount of restriction, based on individual student needs and abilities.




A change in what students do or a reshaping of the materials students use. Reducing the number of questions students must answer at the end of a textbook chapter, allowing a student to answer aloud instead of writing an answer, and allowing the student to do an activity that is different from what the other students are doing are all examples of modifications.



Occupational therapist

A special education-related service provider who works with students to improve the functioning or compensate for problems in fine motor functioning. Some of the areas OTs help with are grasping, holding, writing, and keyboarding.




Additional educational personnel hired to extend the services of a school's program. Paraeducators usually perform instructional, clerical, or student supervisory duties within a school or program. Other terms used to describe paraeducators include paraprofessionals, instructional aides, and classroom aides.


Physical therapist

A special education-related service provider who works with students to improve the functioning of large muscle groups, such as range of motion, walking, positioning, etc.


Pull-out services

Special remedial, therapeutic, or enrichment services provided to students outside the regular classroom. In the past, almost all additional services were provided in this manner, regardless of individual student need. One aim of inclusion is to reduce the removal of students from the regular classroom when the same intent of service can be provided within the regular classroom.



Related service personnel

Special education personnel other than the special education teacher, including therapists, counselors, psychologists, and special instructors.


Remediation or remedial instruction

Instruction aimed at improving a skill or an ability in a student or "catching a student up." Techniques for remedial instruction may include providing more practice or more explanation, repeating information, and devoting more time to working on the skill. A student having a low reading level could be given remediation through one-on-one reading instruction, phonic instruction, or practice in reading aloud.


Resource classroom

A special education service model in which students can be assigned for a certain amount of time (one hour a day, 30 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday, etc.) or come from other classes when support or instruction is needed.



School psychologist

A special education related service provider who works with students individually, provides small and large group counseling, and administers formal testing and assessment.


Section 504 educational plan

A plan of educational goals and objectives written by regular education teachers for students who demonstrate a need, but do not meet the identification guidelines for areas of disability in special education.


Self-contained classroom

A special education service model in which students receive all or most of their instruction or support from special education teachers and staff.


Special education

A federally mandated program organized through state and local educational agencies that ensures and provides appropriate educational opportunities for students qualifying under categories of disabilities.



To maintain or help a student by providing needed assistance in a variety of intensities and methods.



Title I

A federal program that provides remedial and proactive support to qualifying students in the areas of math and reading.


Transition services

Services, training, skills, support, or instruction identified as necessary to help a special education student successfully move from a school setting into a post-secondary setting (i.e., work, job training, technical school, college, military, independent living, semi-independent living).


Standard Inclusive Education abbreviations and their meanings.
Abbreviation Meaning
ADD Attention Deficit Disorder
ADHD Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
BD Behavioral Disorder
CP Cerebral Palsy
DD Developmental Delay
Early Childhood Special Education
E/BD Emotional/Behavioral Disorder
ED Emotional Disorder
ELL English Language Learners
EMH or EMR Educable Mental Handicap or Retardation
ESL English as a Second Language
HI Hearing Impairment or Hearing Disability
IEP Individualized Education Program/Plan
IFSP Individual Family Service Plan
IQ Intelligence Quotient
ITP Individual Transition Plan
LRE Least Restrictive Environment
LD Learning Disability
MD Muscular Dystrophy
MR Mental Retardation
OHI Other Health Impairment
OT Occupational Therapist
PI Physical Impairment
PT Physical Therapist
S/L Speech and Language
SMH Severe Multiple Handicaps
Spec. Ed. Special Education
Sp. Ed. Special Education
TBI or THI Traumatic Brain Injury or Traumatic Head Injury
TMH or TMR Trainable Mental Handicap or Trainable Mental Retardation
VI Visual Impairment or Visual Disability


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