How Many of These 26 IEP Meeting Terms Do You Know?

How Many of These 26 IEP Meeting Terms Do You Know?

Have you ever sat at a meeting and felt like everyone was speaking another language? IEP, 504, IDEA, LRE, WTF?  Ok, the last one isn’t an IEP acronym, but that’s usually how you end up feeling. We get a lot of training prior to being teachers but the measly “required special education course” is never enough to fully understand the IEP meeting jargon. I’ll never forget how overwhelmed and underprepared I was in my first year of teaching sitting around the IEP team table. I nodded my head and pretended to understand but secretly looked up the terms afterwards. So here’s an educational jargon cheat sheet for the next time you need to know one of these terms.

IEP meeting jargon cheat sheet:


Not a sports team. A meeting to discuss concerns about a student and outline the next steps.

2. Disability

An impairment that limits one or more major life activities. There are 13 disability codes a student can qualify for in order to receive a plan: SLD, OHI, ASD, Emotional Disturbance, Speech or Language Impairment, Visual Impairment, Deafness, Hearing Impairment, Deaf Blindness, Orthopedic Impairment, TBI, Intellectual Disability and Multiple Disabilities.

3. IDEA (pronounced I.D.E.A., not idea)

Individuals with Disabilities Act which is a law that that is the foundation for students with disabilities.

4. SST

Student Support Team. Usually the first type of team that meets for concerns about students in the following areas: social, emotional, inattention, academic, medical and/or attendance.

5. 504

A type of plan where a child is on grade level but may need accommodations to help them be successful in school due to a disability. 

6. IEP

Individualized Education Plan.  This is for students who qualify for a disability, are usually 1-2 years below grade level and require specially designed instruction a.k.a the IEP with specific goals.

7. FBA

Functional Behavior Assessment.  This is done when a team is looking at specific behaviors of a student.

8. BIP

Behavior Intervention Plan.  This is the next step after the FBA as this plan outlines how those behaviors should be addressed.

9. RTI

Response to Intervention.  Basically, written documentation of strategies you have tried for a student and how they have reacted.

10. FAPE

Free Appropriate Public Education.  Part of the law of IDEA that says every child no matter their disability has a right to an education that supports them.

11. LRE

Least Restrictive Environment.  This is where that student will get that education and how much time they will be included in the general education setting.

12. ESY

Extended School Year.  This is summer school for IEP students that focuses on their IEP goals and is decided if they will attend each year at an IEP meeting.


English Language Learners/ English Speakers of Other Languages/English as a Second Language


Attentional Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Attentional Deficit Disorder.  If a child qualifies with this disability for an IEP or 504 plan it will be under the category of OHI.

15. OHI

Other Health Impairment. Can be anxiety, ADD, ADHD, depression, cystic fibrosis, etc.

16. SLD

Specific Learning Disability. Dyslexia is an example. Shows in a student’s ability to listen, think, read, speak, write, spell or do mathematical calculations.

 17. ASD

Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Included in the 13 categories of disability codes where a child can qualify for a 504 or an IEP.

18. TBI

Traumatic Brain Injury. A specific injury to the brain (like an accident) that negatively affects a student’s educational performance.

19.  SLP

Speech Language Pathologist.  This is a person who works with students who have speech/language disabilities within the school.

20. OT

Occupational Therapist.  Works with students who qualify in school on a range of things like hand eye coordination and/or gross motor skills.

21. AT

Assistive Technology.  A device, software or piece of equipment that will help a student who qualifies support their challenges in order to help them learn, communicate, and function better.

22. PT

Physical Therapist.  They promote motor development and work with students who qualify to help those students physically participate in a variety of settings. 

23.  Intervention

Targeted strategy that you try for a student consistently for 4-6 weeks.  Reduced distractions, preferential seating, and movement breaks are a few options. They need to be written specifically as to how they are implemented, when they are implemented throughout the school day and who is responsible for implementing them.

24. Modification

A change in WHAT the student is expected to learn or show that they have learned.

25.  Accommodation

A specific change made for the classroom environment during instruction or for testing that is intended to help level the playing field for the child with the disability. 

26. Procedural Safeguards

A document that outlines timelines and important information for parents to understand the disability identification process in the school system along with their rights. *Side note: if you ever have difficulty sleeping, read a copy of this and it will do the trick.

These terms may seem overwhelming, but once you learn them and start figuring out how they factor into getting the students in your classroom what they need to be successful, the IEP jargon becomes more meaningful.  Just remember that no matter how comfortable you are with the terminology, or who is sitting at the IEP meeting table, ultimately you as the teacher are the one who has the greatest impact on the student’s progress at school.

Come connect with other educators in the Empowered Teachers community!


Teacher Pop Quiz: IEP meeting terms

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Christine Kahan

Chrissie, Kahan, M.E.d, is an author, educator, and educational consultant living in Florida. Currently, she is a Title I Teacher who works with grades one through eleven. She spent the bulk of her career as an assistant principal in a public elementary school setting. Her passion has been advocating for students with disabilities. You can keep up with her latest information about upcoming books or her podcast “Pros and Kahan’s” on her website. When Chrissie isn’t teaching and it’s not NFL football season, you can find her binge-watching Oxygen or playing with her dogs.

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