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    District Glossary

    This glossary contains definitions of words and phrases commonly found in spoken and written communications throughout the school district and its various departments.

    (See also District Acronyms.)

    If there is something you could not find or would like to add to this page, please email

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    Accelerated International Baccalaureate (IBX)

    An accelerated IB program (based on seat availability at Ingraham High School) that leads to the completion of the IB Diploma in grade 11, allowing seniors to explore their academic interests by participating in internships, college classes and further electives.

    Access services

    Access services are intended to provide specifically designed instruction to students with more intensive academic and functional special education needs. This special education service model supports students who are able to make progress on their individualized education program (IEP) goals while spending most of their instructional time, including specially designed instruction, in general education settings with a range of supports

    Adapted Physical Education (APE)

    A carefully designed physical education instructional program for a student with a disability.


    All students who live within the boundaries of the Seattle Public Schools district (the City of Seattle) are eligible for "admission" into the district. To be admitted, students must verify their address and register through the Admissions Center.

    Admissions Center

    Admissions, formerly known as Enrollment Services, performs the day-to-day public-facing functions around enrollment. Admissions enrolls new students, manages student transfers between schools (if applicable), and processes choice applications.

    Administrative Review Team (ART)

    An administrative team that reviews eligibility for preschool and assigns students to a preschool IEP team.

    Advanced Learning

    Advanced Learning programs and services provide complex and accelerated curricula for academically advanced students based on student eligibility.

    Advanced Placement (AP)

    The Advanced Placement program allows students to take rigorous college-level courses while still in high school. Students may earn college credit and/or advanced placement into upper-level college courses by taking AP exams. Many colleges and universities recognize AP courses when making admissions decisions.

    Adverse Educational Impact

    How, and to what extent, the student’s disability affects the student’s involvement and progress in the general education curriculum and/or setting.


    See Paraeducator

    Alternative Learning Experience (ALE)

    Alternative Learning Experience occurs in whole or in part independent from the regular classroom setting or schedule.

    Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

    Law enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1990 designed to protect the civil rights of people who have physical and mental disabilities. The ADA mandates changes in the way that both private businesses and the government conduct business to ensure that all Americans have full access to and can fully participate in every aspect of society.

    (Transfer) Appeal

    To formally contest a student's assignment or eligibility for certain programs or services, families should submit an appeal to the Admissions Center. Transfer appeals (from one school to another) are subject to the assignment guidelines and are only considered in extreme or unique circumstances.

    Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

    Behavior analysis focuses on the principles that explain how learning takes place. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the use of these techniques and principles to bring about meaningful and positive change in behavior. Positive reinforcement is one such principle: when a behavior is followed by some sort of reward, it is more likely to be repeated.


    When a student is "assigned," it means he/she has an active school, grade, and program placement for next year. In Special Education, it means the physical location where a student receives special education services.

    Assignment address

    The basis for admission and assignment in Seattle Public Schools is the student's principal place of residence. The student's principal place of residence is the home, house, apartment, facility, structure, or location, etc. where the student lives the majority of the time. Generally, the residence of a student is the principal residence of his or her parent(s) or legal guardian(s). It is this address that determines the student's designated school and transportation eligibility, as well as any applicable tiebreakers during Open Enrollment for School Choice.

    Assignment inquiry

    Assignment inquiries are designed to correct any choice application errors or commissions that may have occurred during Open Enrollment. Inquiries have priority consideration over newly submitted choice applications, transfer appeals, or waitlist moves.

    Assistive Technology

    Any item, piece of equipment, or product system, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a child with a disability.

    Attendance area school

    Elementary, middle, and high school students are assigned to a designated attendance area school based on where the student lives. If the student needs programs or services that are not offered at their attendance area school, they will be assigned to a linked school with the appropriate program or service. Each attendance area school has a defined geographic boundary and is intended to serve the students who live within that geographic boundary.


    Attrition is the loss of students between two points of time (such as the beginning of the school year and the end of the school year).


    A health care professional who is trained to evaluate hearing loss and related disorders and to rehabilitate individuals with hearing loss and related disorders.

    Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

    Refers to communication methods that help or replace speaking or writing for individuals who struggle to produce or comprehend spoken or written language.

    Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

    One of the 14 IDEA categories of disability. A developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engaging in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences.

    Aversive Intervention (AI)

    The use of isolation or restraint practices to discourage undesirable student behavior

    Aversive Intervention Plan (AIP)

    A plan within a student IEP that describes the systematic use of isolation or restraint for the purpose of discouraging undesirable behavior.


    Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)

    A plan for reducing problem behaviors while increasing desired behaviors

    Behavior Support Team (BeST)

    This is a provider in the Puget Sound area. Provides a timely and supportive response to families caring for children and adolescents with developmental disabilities and behavior challenges.

    Bilingual Education Act (BEA)

    Title VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1968 was the first piece of United States federal legislation that recognized the needs of Limited English Speaking Ability (LESA) students.

    Bilingual Instructional Assistant (Bilingual IA)

    A school employee who works under the supervision of teachers or other professional practitioners to provide instruction or other direct services to children, youth and their families and is fluent in two languages, also able to provide communication support. See also paraeducator

    Bilingual Orientation Center (BOC)

    Bilingual Orientation Centers provide intensive English language learner instruction to prepare newly enrolled non-English speaking students for regular classroom instruction.

    Birth-to-K ratio

    The Washington State Department of Health provides Seattle Public Schools with birth data for the City of Seattle. From this information, Enrollment Planning determines the number of births in each elementary school attendance area who will attend their neighborhood school for Kindergarten five years later, adjusting for the percentage of those who historically move in and out of each area.

    Birth-to-three transition coordinator

    The school district personnel responsible for facilitating a student’s transition from early learning

    Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)

    A graduate-level certification in behavior analysis. Professionals who are certified at the BCBA level are independent practitioners who provide behavior-analytic services.


    All attendance area schools have a geographic boundary which defines who is assigned to a school.

    Elementary - Each elementary school has a geographical boundary. Geographical boundaries determine transportation and priority for getting into a school.

    Middle School - A combination of elementary school reference areas forms the middle school boundaries. The combined areas are referred to as regions.​

    High School - The boundary is the entire school district. Alternative/non-traditional K-8- The boundary is the combination of elementary school boundaries for designated clusters. Exception: Salmon Bay, where the boundary for grades 6-8 is the entire school district. ​

    All-City Program/School - The boundary is the entire school district.


    A Seattle Public Schools post-secondary program that supports students with disabilities

    Building administrator

    The Seattle Public Schools personnel responsible for administering a specific school building i.e. a principal

    Building Excellence Levy (BEX)

    The capital levy program adopted by Seattle Public Schools in 1992. It provides resources for new construction, renovations and additions at schools. Every three years there is the operations levy and either the BEX or BTA levies as those two levies rotate in six-year cycles

    Building Renovations, Technology and Academic/Athletics Levy (BTA)

    The capital levy program funds projects in the areas of seismic improvements, roof and window replacement, power upgrades, technology, art and science facilities upgrades, libraries and athletic facilities.



    Capacity is calculated by multiplying the number of teaching spaces by type, by the class size limit.

    Capital Improvement Program (CIP I)

    The bond program with $64 million, approved by voters in 1984. It funded major modernization, building additions, building replacement and new construction at 15 schools.

    Capture rate

    Capture rate reflects the number of school-age Seattle residents that attend their designated attendance area school, as opposed to attending another school within the Seattle Public Schools district. A school's capture rate is an important consideration in enrollment projections.

    Career and Technical Education (CTE)

    Career and Technical Education programs provide 21st century academic and technical skills for students.

    Center for Childhood Deafness and Hearing Loss (CDHL)

    The Washington State Center for Childhood Deafness and Hearing Loss (CDHL) is established to provide statewide leadership for the coordination and delivery of educational services to children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

    Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR)

    The Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) serves as a central resource of information and products to the community of Parent Training Information (PTI) Centers and the Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs) who educate parents and improve outcomes for children with disabilities. CPIR is funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the U.S. Department of Education.

    Central Office Compliance Team

    An administrative team that reviews IEPs and other documents to ensure compliance with relevant laws and rules

    Central Office Out of District Team (OOD)

    An administrative team that handles situations where students with disabilities transfer into Seattle Public Schools

    Child Find

    The process used to locate, evaluate and identify youth, age birth to 21, who need special education and related services, regardless of the severity of their disability.

    (School) Choice

    Students may choose to apply for another attendance area school, including K-8 schools; option schools; or programs such as Montessori, Spectrum and the Highly Capable Cohort. To apply for school choice, students must submit a choice application. Choice assignments are generally dependent on space availability.

    City Comprehensive Plan

    Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan (Comp Plan) is a 20-year policy plan reflecting Seattle residents’ values and articulating a vision for future growth.

    Citizen complaint

    A written statement to OSPI alleging that a federal or state special education rule or law has been violated by a school district, another public agency serving special education students, an ESD, or the state

    Classroom configurations

    Classroom configurations are the arrangement of students into homerooms.


    Seattle Public Schools is divided into 60 elementary school reference areas. These reference areas are contiguously grouped into nine geographical clusters. These clusters are used to determine transportation eligibility and mandatory assignments for elementary students. Note: The West Seattle cluster is expanded to include High Point Elementary school. Students living in both West Seattle South and West Seattle North clusters are eligible for transportation if the service address is more than one mile from High Point.

    Collection of Evidence (COE)

    An evaluation of a set of work samples prepared by the student with instructional support from a teacher.


    A cohort is a group of students. For example, a cohort can be the students who enter the same high school together during the same year. In another example, a cohort can also be the students currently enrolled in a certain program, such as the Highly Capable Cohort.

    Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

    Drafted by experts and teachers from across the United States, they are clear, consistent guidelines for what every student should know and be able to do in math and English language arts from kindergarten through 12th grade.

    Community Based Instruction (CBI)

    An instructional method for teaching, in real-life settings and under the supervision of educators, the skills that students will need for functional daily living as productive adults.

    Continuation assignments

    Students will automatically get a continuing assignment to the same school, if the school offers the grade and services the student needs. Generally, the following students will have a continuation assignment: students who have not moved and whose current school includes their next year grade and current program (including students at K-8 schools rising to 6th grade); students at option schools will be continued at that school through the highest grade served by that school, as long as the school offers the services the student needs; and students with a choice assignment to an attendance area school that is not the student's attendance area school.

    Crisis Prevention and Intervention (CPI)

    Nonviolent crisis intervention.

    Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD)

    Referring to a group of people who represent multiple cultures and speak various languages.


    Databased Individualization (DBI)

    Process for individualizing and intensifying interventions through the systematic use of assessment data, validated interventions, and research-based adaptation strategies, used with students who have severe and persistent academic and behavioral needs.


    One of the 14 IDEA categories of disability. Simultaneous hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness.

    Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH)

    A category of disability including some degree of hearing loss from mild to hearing loss so severe that communication and learning is primarily by visual methods. Learn more about DHH in Seattle Public Schools.


    One of the 13 IDEA categories of disability. A hearing impairment so severe that a child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.


    Demography is the scientific study of population that focuses on four basic topics: size of the population, its distribution across geographic areas, its composition, and the determinants and consequences of population growth. Demographics are the characteristics that describe the population.


    Grade level changes are generally only changed by the principal of the school. If a school changes a grade, and thereby demotes a student to the previous tier (ex. from high school to middle school) for this year, the change must be done before the start of school.


    A process to waive requirements for development by the Seattle Municipal Code related to on-site parking, bus loading, curb cuts, etc.

    Designated school

    Elementary, middle, and high school students are assigned to a designated attendance area school based on where the student lives. If the student needs programs or services that are not offered at their attendance area school, they will be assigned to a linked school with the appropriate program or service. This provides predictable assignments for students who need these services.

    Designated Instruction Services (DIS)

    Supports provided to students to ensure success in academic and other activities.

    Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA)

    Develops and implements public policies that will promote individual worth, self-respect, and dignity. Supports people to live in the community and provides supports to families.

    Developmental screening

    A medical examination used to tell if children are learning basic skills like playing, learning, speaking, behaving and moving when they should.

    Developmental Delay

    One of the 14 IDEA categories of disability. A delay in one or more of the following areas: physical development; cognitive development; communication; social or emotional development; or adaptive [behavioral] development.

    Developmentally Delayed (DD)

    Refers to only to children between the ages of 0 and 8 years old, a condition which represents a significant delay in the process of development. Children often have skill deficits including specific delays in language, perception, meta-cognition, and social, emotional and/or motor development.

    Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

    A therapy designed to help people change patterns of behavior that are not helpful, such as self-harm and substance abuse.

    Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR)

    DVR provides services to individuals who want to work but need assistance due to a physical, sensory, cognitive or mental disability. A DVR counselor works with each individual one-on-one to design a customized, step-by-step plan to achieve the desired job goal.


    Students are dropped from Seattle Public Schools when they miss 20 consecutive days of classes or attend a different school outside of the district (private schools, online schools, and/or are homeschooled).

    Dual-enrolled students

    Students enrolled in both Seattle Public Schools and a private school.

    Due process hearing

    A formal, legal proceeding conducted by an administrative law judge relating to issues about the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or provision of Free Appropriate Public Education to a student.


    Early Intervention

    A system of coordinated services that promote age-appropriate growth and development and supports families during the early years.

    Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT)

    Early intervention services during the first three years which can make a difference in a child’s life. Learn more about Early Childhood Special Education.

    Education Service Agency (ESA)

    Regional public multi-service agency authorized by state statute to develop, manage and provide services or programs to local educational agencies. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K-12 education in Washington state.

    Educational Service District (ESD)

    There are 9 Educational Service Districts in Washington state. They provide essential services for school districts and communities and help OSPI (the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction) implement legislatively-supported education initiatives.

    Educational Staff Associate (ESA)

    A certified school counselor, psychologist, social worker, nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist and speech language pathologist, or audiologist

    Emergency Expulsion (EE)

    An “emergency” exists when a student’s continued presence poses such a threat to people or property or so disrupts the education process that they must be expelled before a hearing occurs.

    Emergency Response Protocol (ERP)

    The Emergency Response Protocol is an addendum to the IEP that documents the advanced planning, conditions, and precautions needed in the case that isolation, restraint, or a restraint device may be used. The form must be signed by a parent/guardian, documenting their prior consent. The district must also provide parents/guardians with their policy on use of restraint and isolation. ERP’s must be incorporated into a student’s IEP and reviewed annually.

    Emotional Disturbance

    One of the 14 IDEA categories of disability. A condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child’s educational performance:

    • An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors.
    • An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.
    • Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.
    • A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.
    • A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

    End of Course [Exam] (EOC)

    Exams in math and biology allow students in grades 9-12 to be tested on the knowledge and skills they have gained from taking specific courses.

    English Language Learner (ELL)

    A student learning English whose primary language is not English


    When a student is enrolled, they have an active school, grade and program assignment and they are currently attending Seattle Public Schools.

    Enrollment Planning

    Enrollment Planning is the department that works with other district offices to provide information and plan for changes in enrollment over time. Enrollment Planning calculates enrollment projections, studies the district's demographics, determines class numbers at option schools and choice seats at attendance area schools, proposes changes to school boundaries when population trends change; and produces maps using student data.

    Entry Grade

    An entry grade is the grade level at which a student enters school.


    An assessment process used to determine whether a student has a disability.

    Evaluation Case Manager

    Seattle Public Schools personnel responsible for managing the evaluation process for a student referred for special education services.

    Evaluation team

    A team of school personnel responsible for evaluating student eligibility for special education services.

    Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC)

    Skills that students who are blind or visually impaired must learn in order to live and work independently, in addition to the “core” subjects like math, language arts, science, and history. The additional skills include social interaction, independent living, career education, communication modes, such as braille.

    Extended school year (ESY)

    Special education services for students beyond the dates of the normal school year.


    Facilities Master Plan (FMP)

    A plan identifying the use for Seattle Public Schools’ facilities, the improvements needed to those facilities, and the timing in which improvements should be accomplished.

    Family Resource Coordinator (FRC )

    A person who assists a family in gaining access to the early intervention services for their eligible child and other resources as identified in the Individual Family Service Plan.

    Feeder pattern

    A feeder pattern is the predictable flow of students from elementary to middle school. Elementary attendance areas are combined to create middle school attendance areas, resulting in feeder patterns from elementary school to middle school.

    There are no feeder patterns from middle school to high school; each attendance area high school has its own geographic attendance area. The exception to this is in West Seattle, where students in the Denny attendance area feed into Chief Sealth International High School and students in the Madison attendance area feed into West Seattle High School.

    As growth boundaries are phased in, there may be changes to elementary school attendance areas. These changes may result in the elementary attendance area feeding into more than one middle school during a transition period. In other words, changes to elementary attendance areas and middle school attendance areas may not always be implemented at the same time. Visit our Growth Boundary page for more information.

    Four Ps

    Positive beliefs, positive relationships, positive learning and positive partnerships

    Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)

    The legal right to education for students with disabilities

    Free and Reduced-price Lunch (FRL)

    All students who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals receive meals free of charge. 

    Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

    A law that gives you the right to request access to federal agency records or information.

    Functional Behavior Assessments (FBA)

    A process that identifies a specific target behavior, the purpose of the behavior, and what factors maintain the behavior that is interfering with the student’s educational progress.


    General educator

    A teacher charged with implementing a school’s core curriculum

    Geo Zone / Geographic Area

    Students who want to attend an option school need to apply – no one is assigned automatically to an option school. Each option school has a geographic priority area ("geo zone"). The geographic zone tiebreaker is for applicants to an option school who live within a defined area in proximity to the school. Please note that living within the geographic zone does not guarantee assignment to the requested option school, but gives a priority for admission after siblings. Geo zones may change from year to year as a tool for capacity management.

    Grade level

    Students are assigned to a grade level, based on age, continuous assignments and/or transcripts.

    Grandfathering/grandfathered assignments

    Grandfathering means that students can remain at their current school through the highest grade offered when their designated attendance area school has changed. Aside from instances where new schools are opening, Seattle Public Schools aims to grandfather students whenever possible, based on the capacity at the impacted schools.

    Growth Boundaries

    Growth Boundaries are the school boundary changes that occur when a new school opens or when an existing school's enrollment changes.


    Head Start

    Head Start is a federally funded child development program for low-income children and their families

    Hearing Impairment (HI)

    One of the 14 IDEA categories of disability. An impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance but that is not included under the definition of deafness.

    (Native) Heritage speaker assignment

    Eligible students will be tested for language proficiency to qualify for a heritage speaker assignment to international schools. Those who pass the heritage speaker test will be assigned to available seats at language option schools, in order of their placement on the waitlist.

    Heat, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC)

    Types of mechanical systems that provide heat and air in school buildings.

    Highly Capable (HC)

    Designation for students identified by testing to be significantly ahead of peers in terms of ability.

    Highly Capable Cohort (HCC)

    Students in Seattle Public Schools must be determined by the Advanced Learning Department to be Highly Capable by testing. Once qualified, a Highly Capable eligible student must apply (opt in) for the Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) program. Once assigned to the HCC program they continue on the HCC pathway through 12th grade.

    Homeless, students experiencing

    Students and/or their families are considered homeless if they are: living in a shelter, motel, vehicle, or campground; living on the street; living in an abandoned building, trailer or other inadequate accommodation; doubled up with friends or relatives because they can't find or afford housing; and/or are waiting for foster-care placement.


    IEP case manager

    The Seattle Public Schools personnel responsible for managing the process of developing and implementing and IEP.

    IEP meeting

    A conference between parents and school officials to develop, review, and revise a student’s IEP.

    IEP Online (IEPO)

    An online program used to write IEPs and other important special education documents.

    IEP team

    A team including parents and school officials that develops and monitors an IEP.

    In Class Support (ICS)

    Support provided inside the general education classroom by a Special Education Teacher.

    Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE)

    An evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the public agency responsible for the education of the child in question.

    Individual transition plan (ITP)

    A plan developed as part of a student’s IEP at the age of 15 to develop a course of study and coordinated set of activities for the student that supports achievement of the postsecondary goals.

    Individualized Education Program (IEP)

    A legal document that describes a student’s learning needs, the services the school will provide, and how progress will be measured.

    Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)

    A plan for special services for young children from birth to three with developmental delays.

    Individualized Health Plan (IHP)

    A formal, written agreement developed with the interdisciplinary collaboration of the school staff in partnership with the student’s family, the student and the student’s health care provider(s).

    Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)

    A plan for special services for young children with developmental delays. It only applies to children birth to three years of age. Once a child turns 3 years old, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is put into place.

    Individualized Service Plan (ISP)

    A plan for special education students attending private school.

    Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

    The law that outlines rights and regulations for students with disabilities in the U.S. who require special education.

    Instructional Assistant (IA)

    See Paraeducator

    Interim Alternative Educational Setting (IAES)

    An educational setting or program other than a student’s current placement that allows the student to receive services according to the their IEP.

    International Baccalaureate (IB)

    Rigorous high school curriculum based on an internationally developed and reviewed curricular program that can lead to college credit.

    International schools

    Seattle's international schools provide students with linguistic skills, higher-order thinking skills, and a global perspective that will help them to contribute to, and succeed in, a 21st century world. International schools are part of the language immersion pathways.


    Joint Operating Agreement

    An agreement between the Seattle Parks Department and Seattle Public Schools to operate and use district and city facilities for programs such as childcare, before/after school enrichment, sports and community services.

    John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence (JSCEE)

    The JSCEE is the central district office for Seattle Public Schools.
    The street address is:
    2445 3rd Avenue South Seattle, WA 98134

    The mailing address is:
    John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence
    PO Box 34165
    Seattle, WA 98124-1165

    Jump Start

    Jump Start is a free transition to kindergarten program offered at most Seattle elementary and K-8 schools. This program offers children a chance to get comfortable in their new school, meet teachers and staff, and feel ready and confident when school starts in September.


    Keep Siblings Together Rule

    Upon parent/guardian request, siblings (including twins/multiples) applying for the same school(s) in the same order will be assigned (or waitlisted) together [or kept at their current school(s) if requesting reassignment and they cannot be reassigned together]. This is dependent on being able to meet any specific program or service needs or one or more siblings at the requested school(s).



    The City Landmarks Preservation Board is responsible for the designation and protection of historic buildings throughout Seattle. Even though Seattle Public Schools is a separate authority under the state, the district agreed to nominate school buildings that meet the landmark criteria and participate in the designation process on a voluntary basis. Some of the buildings are identified for cultural significance or as a neighborhood focal point, and the community wishes to have these buildings preserved.

    Language immersion

    Language immersion programs offer instruction in Japanese, Mandarin, and Spanish. These programs are designed for students to achieve dual language fluency by the end of elementary school.

    Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

    The legal right of a student who has a disability to be educated with non-disabled peers, to the greatest extent appropriate.

    Linked school

    Many students are assigned to their attendance area school; however, for required services not available at every attendance area school, a linked school is generally designated. This provides predictable assignments for students who need these services.

    Limited English Proficiency

    Refers to a person who is not fluent in the English language often because it is not their native language.

    Local Education Agency (LEA)

    Seattle Public Schools is a Local Education Agency.

    Locally Determined Assessment (LDA)

    A test that is an option to students receiving special education services and can be used to meet the assessment requirement in English Language Arts (reading and writing), mathematics and science.

    Lottery tiebreaker

    The last tiebreaker in the Student Assignment Plan is a computer-generated random number known as a lottery number. This number ranks orders students for assignment, or for placement on a waitlist.


    Manifestation Determination Review (MDR)

    A meeting which must take place within 10 days of a behavior infraction that would cause a student to be removed from their current placement in a public school for more than 10 days.

    Manifestation Determination Team (MDT)

    A team responsible for deciding whether a student’s behavior is the result of their disability or the failure of staff to implement the student’s IEP.

    Medically fragile services

    Medically fragile services are intended to provide specially designed instruction to students who need intensive support for medical care needs throughout the day. These services support students who benefit from spending most of their instructional time, including specially designed instruction, in a smaller group setting as their least restrictive environment.


    Montessori is an alternative approach to education that is based on self- directed activity, hands-on learning, and collaborative play. Montessori programs are offered at Daniel Bagley and Graham Hill Elementary Schools. A blended Montessori and contemporary program is offered at Leschi Elementary School.

    Move rules

    School assignment in Seattle Public Schools is based on the student's home address. Depending on the student's grade, when you move, and where your new home is located, your student may need to change school. The Student Assignment Plan outlines these move rules.

    Multidisciplinary Action Team (MAT)

    School-based teams responsible for identifying and addressing student concerns at their earliest incidence.

    Multiple Disabilities (MD)

    One of the 14 IDEA categories of disability. A term for a person with several disabilities, such as a sensory disability associated with a motor disability. The combination of disabilities can cause such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments. Multiple disabilities do not include deaf-blindness.

    Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS)

    A whole-school, data-driven, prevention-based framework for improving learning outcomes for every student through a layered continuum of evidence-based practices and systems.


    Next Year

    The upcoming school year. From today, the next school year will begin in September.

    New assignments

    Students will get a new assignment if: the student's current school does not include their next year grade or required services, or students have moved out of the school's attendance area (except for students grandfathered at the school).

    New students

    A student who has not previously attended Seattle Public Schools at any time during the current or previous school year.

    No Child Left Behind (NCLB)

    U.S. Act of Congress which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It was written in 2001. It included Title 1 provisions applying to disadvantaged students.

    Non-Public Agency (NPA)

    A private school approved by the state board of education or affiliated with a hospital or treatment facility that is eligible to provide special education services for students by contracting with a school district.

    Non-resident students

    Non-resident students are those who do not live within the Seattle Public Schools district. Non-resident students may attend Seattle Public Schools if the anticipated needs of resident students are met first, acceptance of the non-resident student does not create a financial hardship for SPS, and the non-resident student's attendance and discipline records meet appropriate standards, which are set by the Seattle Public Schools School Board.

    Notice of Disciplinary Action (NDA)

    A parent/guardian is entitled to verbal and written notice of the proposed disciplinary action in the language spoken by the parent/guardian.


    Occupational therapist (OT)

    A health care professional who administers treatment to develop, recover, or maintain the daily living and work skills of people with a physical, mental, or cognitive disorder

    Office of Civil Rights (OCR)

    The Seattle Public Schools Office of Civil Rights is charged with receiving, investigating and resolving student complaints of discrimination.

    Office of General Council

    The legal department of Seattle Public Schools

    Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)

    The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is part of the U.S. Department of Education. They are dedicated to improving results for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities ages birth through 21 by providing leadership and financial support to assist states and local districts.

    Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)

    The division of state government in Washington charged with administering public schools

    Open Enrollment

    Open Enrollment is the annual two-week period where students may first apply to attend a different school or program (based on seat availability and eligibility, if applicable) next year.

    Option schools

    Option schools provide a variety of programmatic opportunities, different curriculum, and educational styles for families looking for alternatives to their attendance area school. Assignment is by application only, based on set tiebreakers, and seat availability. (For language immersion schools, student eligibility is determined by a language proficiency exam.) Option schools are designed to relieve capacity at nearby attendance area schools. The application period for option schools begins in late winter (typically February) during Open Enrollment and continues through May 31. Students new to the district after May 31, may enroll in their attendance area (or designated) school or an option school where space is available.

    Orientation and Mobility (O & M)

    A significant and immediate consequence of visual impairment is the restriction in one’s ability to travel through physical and social environments and to anticipate and exercise control over potentially hazardous situations.

    Orthopedic Impairment (OI)

    One of the 14 IDEA categories of disability. A severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by a congenital anomaly, impairments caused by disease (e.g., poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures).

    Other Health Impairment (OHI)

    One of the 14 IDEA categories of disability. Having limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment, that is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette syndrome; and adversely affects a child’s educational performance.



    A school employee who works under the supervision of teachers or other professional practitioners to provide instruction or other direct services to children and youth and their families. Paraeducators are sometimes referred to as “Instructional Assistants (IAs)”, “Aids”, and “Paraprofessionals”


    See Paraeducator

    Parent-Designated Adult (PDA)

    A school district employee selected by a parent. The individual is someone who has executed a caretaker relative educational or medical authorization affidavit who voluntarily agrees to administer a specific medication to a student. For instance, a student with diabetes or epilepsy.

    Parentally-placed private school students with disabilities

    Students with disabilities enrolled who have been enrolled in a private school as the result of their parent or guardian’s choice.

    Part C to B transition

    The process used to decide whether students who were eligible for special services before age three will be evaluated for special education eligibility after age three.

    Part C to B transition conference

    A meeting between Seattle Public Schools personnel, parents, and early learning officials to gather information relevant to the evaluation of a 3-year-old student’s eligibility for special education services.


    The concept of a pathway is that a student entering a program in elementary (or middle) school would be able to continue in that program in middle (or high) school.

    Physical Therapist (PT)

    Health care professionals who help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility.

    Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

    A tool that helps nonverbal children communicate without words.


    A service model option for a student with a disability.

    Planning Capacity

    Number of students a building can accommodate for planning purpose.

    Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

    Process for creating school environments that are more predictable and effective for achieving academic and social goals.

    Postsecondary transition

    The process that supports student preparation for life after high school

    Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP)

    A statement that gives a snapshot of a student at a particular time and place. It describes the level at which the student is working academically and functionally (the ability to perform routine activities of everyday living). Previously called Present Levels of Performance (PLOP).

    Present Levels of Performance (PLOP)

    IDEA requires that each IEP must include a statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance.

    Primary Placement

    Also referred to as SPS Primary Placement. A term specific to Seattle Public Schools. It defines a student’s special education home base and case manager’s specialty: Resource, Access, Social/Emotional, Focus and Distinct. These defined specialties create predictable pathways for student school assignment and for teacher professional development.

    Prior Written Notice (PWN)

    Notice provided to parents in writing before students are evaluated for special education services or about important decisions concerning a student’s special education program.

    Private school assessment team (PSAT)

    Assessment team at your child’s private school that affects your child’s special education program.

    Private School referral packet

    A collection of documents used to refer students for special education services that is provided to private schools by Seattle Public Schools.

    Procedural Safeguards

    A written notice of parental rights related to special education processes that must be provided to parents.


    A program may offer educational opportunities that are not mandated by federal, state or local law or regulation. While schools offer a variety of approaches to instruction, using a particular teaching strategy does not create a program under this policy. Students access programs through an established assignment process consistent with the student assignment plan. Students must opt in and/or qualify for the program.

    A program is not an Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) registered school. Programs can be at multiple sites and should be equitably distributed, although can be limited by resources and feasibility.

    Program specialist, Special Education

    In Seattle Public Schools, Special Education Program Specialists provide support to school staff and to families. There are two program specialists for each of the district’s five regions.


    Projections are the expected number of students and/or classrooms for specific time period, based on historical information.


    Grade level changes are generally only changed by the principal of the school. If a school changes a grade and thereby promotes a student to the next tier for this year (ex. from middle to high school), the change must be done before the start of school.


    Reference Area

    An elementary school boundary is called a reference area. It is the area immediately surrounding the school site. A student’s reference area is determined by the area in which the home residence is located. A group of reference areas are combined to form clusters.

    Regional Special Education Supervisor

    An Seattle Public Schools special education administrator responsible for schools within a defined geographic area


    High School - The region for all high schools is the entire school district.

    Middle School - The elementary areas are contiguously grouped into five geographic middle school regions. There are two middle schools in each region. These regions are used to determine transportation and assignment priority.


    Registration is the first step to attend Seattle Public Schools. If you are new to the district, you will need to bring the student’s birth certificate, updated immunization record, and two pieces of address verification of Seattle residency to the Admissions Center.

    Related services

    Transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as are required to assist a student eligible for special education to benefit from special education.

    Request of Information (ROI)

    Also known as the Mutual Exchange form. A health form that gives Seattle Public Schools and a health care provider, hospital, or clinic permission to exchange information about a student.

    Resolution session

    A meeting initiated after a parent files a due process hearing request that is meant to give the district the opportunity to resolve the dispute.

    Response to Intervention (RTI)

    An approach to academic and behavioral intervention used in the United States to provide early, systemic, and appropriately intensive assistance to children who are at risk for or already underperforming as compared to appropriate grade-or age-level standards.


    The term "retention" means repeating an academic year of school. Retention is also called grade retention, being held back, or repeating a grade. Retention is the opposite of promotion.

    Returning students

    A returning student is a student who previously attended Seattle Public Schools for any length of time, then withdrew from SPS, and subsequently returns to attend SPS again.

    Risers or the Riser process

    This term is no longer used, but it refers to the process used to determine placement for students who are transitioning from one schooling level to the next i.e. pre-k to kindergarten, elementary to middle school, middle school to high school, high school to transition program. For current information, see Change of School.


    School Based Health Centers (SBHC)

    School Based Health Centers are available at most Seattle Public middle and high schools. They are operated by community health agencies and are typically staffed with coordinators, nurse practitioners, and mental health counselors.

    School Choice

    Families may apply for assignment to any schools with the appropriate grades for their children. Assignment does not determine transportation eligibility.

    School psychologist

    Professionals who apply expertise in mental health, learning, and behavior, to help children and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally.

    Seattle Education Association (SEA)

    A union for Seattle teachers.

    Secondary transition services

    Services to assist students in transitioning successfully to post-secondary life that begin no later than the first IEP in effect at age 16.

    Section 504 plan

    A legal document that outlines obligated school supports and services needed to address a disability as broadly defined by section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.


    A service is a supplementary support to basic education that is required by federal, state or local law and/or regulations. Required services should be provided at appropriate locations that give students equitable access to the services. Locations and capacity need to be flexible to meet changing student needs for required services. Required services are special education, English language learners, and highly capable students, as defined by the state.

    Service Area

    A service area is a geographic area within which various services, such as special education services, are provided for students who live within it. Service areas use the same geographic boundaries as those for attendance area middle schools.

    Service Plan

    A plan that describes the special education services that will be made available for parentally-placed students attending approved, non-profit private schools.

    Service school

    Service schools provide specific services or unique academic programs that are not offered at attendance area or option schools. Students are usually placed in a service school based on individual assessment. Assignments to service schools are always choice assignments, except for the Seattle World School, which is a designated assignment.

    Short-term Suspension (STS)

    A denial of attendance for up to and including 10 school days.

    Show rate

    The number of assigned students varies from month to month throughout the school year, and in the summer. A school’s show rate reflects attrition or growth between a given time (e.g. July 1) and the Oct. 1 enrollment head count. If a school’s show rate indicates losses over the summer, this is based on historical data, and has been adjusted for the actual numbers each year.


    Siblings are defined as students living in the same household with the same home address on record for assignment purposes. The definition of sibling also applies to foster children living in the same home.

    Sibling tiebreaker

    The first tiebreaker for assignment to schools through the School Choice process at all levels is the sibling tiebreaker. The sibling tiebreaker applies when the sibling of an applicant is attending a school this year and will continue to attend that school next year. The sibling tiebreaker is applicable for assignment to a school, but not for assignment to a specific program within a school.

    Skills Center

    The Skills Center is a program that provides students with hands-on classes in real-world career fields at various school sites.

    Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC)

    A standardized test consortium. It creates Common Core State Standards-aligned tests used in some states. It is designed so that any student can participate and demonstrate what they know.

    Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

    A federal insurance company that is designed to provide income supplements to people who are physically restricted in their ability to be employed because of a notable disability.

    Special Education (SPED)

    The Special Education department works collaboratively with school and district leaders, teachers, students and families to provide the tools, guidance, supports and services needed to ensure access and success for students with disabilities.

    Special Education Advisory and Advocacy Council (SEAAC)

    A council of parents, teachers, and community advocates appointed by the superintendent to advise on issues related to Special Education

    Special Education Certificated Staff

    Teachers certified to teach special education.

    Special Education Parent Teacher Association (PTSA)

    An independent body and a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission of assisting families of students with disabilities as they navigate the educational system, to partner with parents and educators, advocate for improvements in special education service delivery, and build bridges between the general and special education communities by bringing increased educational resources and opportunities for all students

    Special Education Task Force

    A time-limited group of parents, educators, and district leaders working to propose a model for achieving a continuum of services for students with disabilities in Seattle Public Schools.

    Specialized Programs or Services

    Most students will be able to access advanced learning, bilingual or special education services in their attendance area school or in a nearby linked or option school. There are some services that will continue to be available in just a few locations because they serve small numbers of students. Services for medically fragile students are one such example.

    Specially Designed Instruction (SDI)

    Teaching strategies and methods used by teachers to instruct students with learning disabilities and other types of learning disorders.

    Specific Learning Disability (SLD)

    One of the 13 IDEA categories of disability. A disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.

    Spectrum (Advanced Learners)

    Enhanced, enriched, and/or accelerated curriculum in reading or mathematics provided to eligible students in 1st-8th grade.

    Speech Generation Devices (SGD)

    Also known as voice output communication aids, are electronic augmentative and alternative communication systems used to supplement or replace speech or writing for individuals with sever speech impairments, enabling them to verbally communicate their needs.

    Speech Language Impairment (SLI)

    One of the 13 IDEA categories of disability. A communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

    Speech language pathologist (SLP)

    A professional who evaluates and treats children and adults who have difficulty with speech or language.

    State Education Agency (SEA)

    A formal government label for the state-level government agencies within each U.S. State responsible for providing information, resources, and technical assistance on educational matters to schools and residents.

    State-Administered Parent Involvement Survey

    A survey of parent involvement administered by OSPI that is part of the State Performance Plans require by IDEA.

    Student Assignment Plan

    Elementary, middle, and high school students are initially assigned to a designated attendance area school based on where the student lives. Visit our Student Assignment Plan page for more information.

    Student intervention teams (SIT)

    A team process that consists of consultation and problem solving which focuses on the needs of an individual student who has not previously responded to intervention.

    Study Skills (SS)

    Approaches to applied learning. They are critical to success in school, considered essential for acquiring good grades, and useful for learning throughout one’s life.

    Superintendent's Procedures for Student Assignment

    The Superintendent’s Procedures for Student Assignment sets forth the implementation of policies established by the Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors in the Student Assignment Plan and the most recent Annual Transition Plan. The Superintendent approves this document annually.

    Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

    A U.S. government program that provides stipends to low-income people who are either aged (65 or older), blind, or disabled.

    Supplementary aids and services

    Supports that are provided in general education classes or other education-related settings to enable the student to benefit from their educational setting.


    Teacher Assistance Team (TAT)

    Provides support and assistance to the teacher and principal so that instruction can be improved.

    Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired (TVI)

    A professional who has expertise in how visual impairment affects a student’s development and learning, as well as the strategies and tools that can help students learn about the world, perform everyday activities, and participate in the general curriculum and other activities in school.

    Temporary Alternative Placements for Evaluative Purposes

    An interim placement that assists in determining an appropriate ongoing placement for the student.


    If there are more applications for a school or program during the School Choice process than available seats for a particular school, grade, or program, then certain tiebreakers are used to determine assignment and waitlist status. Most tiebreakers are only applied for those who participate in the on-time Open Enrollment period during the annual School Choice process. Current tiebreakers are listed in the Student Assignment Transition Plan.

    Title I

    Federal program designed to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging State academic achievement standards and state academic assessments.

    Title II

    Seeks to increase the academic achievement of all students by helping schools and districts improve teacher and principal quality.

    Title III

    Seeks to provide Language Instruction for Limited English Proficient and Immigrant Students.

    Title VI

    Prohibits discrimination based on race, color or national origin in any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

    Title IX

    Protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance.

    Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

    One of the 14 IDEA categories of disability. An acquired injury to the brain caused by an external physical force, resulting in total or partial functional disability or psycho-social impairment, or both, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

    Twice exceptional learners

    Students who meet criteria for Advanced Learning and are also eligible for Special Education/504 support are considered twice-exceptional learners.


    Urban Villages

    The areas designated by the City’s Comp Plan (see definition) to allow both commercial and residential growth.


    Vision services

    Orientation and Mobility (O and M) and vision services, including instruction in Braille, are provided for visually impaired students.

    Visual Impairment (VI)

    One of the 14 IDEA categories of disability. An impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness.



    Schools (and programs) have waitlists when more students request the school (or program) during the School Choice process than available seats.

    Washington Administrative Code (WAC)

    The regulations of executive branch agencies that are a source of special education law.