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Access Points

The Florida Standards Access Points (FS-AP) are academic expectations written specifically for students with significant cognitive disabilities. Access points reflect the essence or core intent of the standards that apply to all students in the same grade, but at reduced levels of complexity. Access points allow students with the most significant cognitive disabilities to engage in grade level content at their individual ability level, as documented in their individual education plan (IEP). Visit the Access Project website for additional information.

Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM)

Accessible instructional materials are instructional materials that have been formatted or adapted to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities. Examples include restructured print, braille, large print, digital text (or e-text), audio, graphic-enhanced text, images, and manipulatives. The specific types of adaptations to instructional materials should be based on the student’s IEP statement of how the student’s disability affects involvement and progress in the general education curriculum. For additional information, please see the Bureau of Exceptional Student Education and Student Services (BEESS) Technical Assistance Paper on Accessible Instructional Materials.


Accommodations are adjustments that can be made to the way students access information and demonstrate performances that do not require changes in the curriculum. Types of accommodations include presentation, response, scheduling, and setting.

Accommodations are not the same as instructional interventions for academics or behavior, though they may be included in instructional plans for implementing interventions. Please see the Accommodations Manual published by the Florida Department of Education for additional information.

Alternate Assessment

The Florida Standards Alternate Assessment (FSAA) measures student performance on the Florida Standards Access Points.


Assessment is a collection of processes to estimate a current reality. Formative, interim, and summative assessments provide multiple sources of student data to guide decisions about adjusting instruction and/or providing interventions. Standardized assessments provide a basis for assessing status relative to norms or criteria.

Assistive Technology and Assistive Technology Related Services

Assistive technology is “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities.” (IDEA 2004)

Assistive technology service is “any service that directly assists a student with a disability in the selection, acquisition or use of an assistive technology device.” (IDEA 2004)

Please see the Assistive Technology site published by the Technology & Learning Connections Team for additional information.




Coaching is the active and iterative delivery of training and guidance provided to enhance an individual’s or team’s knowledge, skill, and performance. The practice promotes active learning environments for educators by reflecting on current practice, applying newly learning skills and concepts to everyday practice, building common communities of practice, and cultivating professional practices among colleagues. Coaching can be provided to individuals or teams of educators to provide feedback and facilitate continued development and effectiveness as professionals in the field. Please see the Thinkific series of professional learning courses on Coaching for additional information.


Collaboration is a process with recurring interactions over time where colleagues engage in defining problems, clarifying thinking, and developing solutions. Collaboration involves more engagement than just meeting or communicating points of view. Teaching and leadership are complex functions and collaboration plays a meaningful role in being successful in either role. Individual work on self-improvement, while essential, is not sufficient for achieving mastery level proficiency and a deep understanding of the profession. Recurring collaboration experiences are also needed. Collaboration is an essential element in deliberate practice – the career long process of developing professional mastery.

Common Language

A “common language” is a tool of master practitioners in any profession used to facilitate effective communications about the essential concepts and practices of the profession. Consensus within a group of practitioners on the specific meaning of terms and expressions is used to provide feedback for improvement of proficiency on important job functions and in deepening understanding of the priority practices, standards, and goals of the profession. Please see the MTSS: Common Language/Common Understanding document to support your team’s common language around MTSS.

Community of Practice (CoP)

A community of practice (CoP) is a group of professionals who use collegial communication processes to support each other’s efforts to improve professional skill sets and deepen professional knowledge bases. A CoP typically has a focus topic. Exchanges among CoP members range from scheduled times (face to face and/or online) to unscheduled and non-simultaneous interactions using online tools. A CoP tends to be sustained over time and members seek and provide feedback to other members for their mutual benefit.


Consensus is the result of a process where stakeholders involved in a change effort agree to operate in alignment with an established implementation plan or decision, regardless of personal opinion. The implementation plan or decision is typically developed with use of a common language of terms, a common knowledge of core concepts, and a common understanding of the rationale for the initiative.


The knowledge and skills students are taught. In K-12 settings, the curriculum in Florida is the Florida Standards. Curriculum materials are the books, manipulatives, etc. that are used to teach the standards.

Curriculum-Based Measurement

Direct skill assessment tool that is aligned with the curriculum, sensitive to instruction, repeatable, and criterion referenced, which is used for a variety of measurement purposes.




Data are typically the results of measurements or objective observation and can be the basis of graphs, images, or observations about the state of conditions or situations. Data may be representation of a fact, figure, and/or idea. Data are numbers, words, images, etc.
Data are the baseline tools for implementing continuous improvement that lead to quality within a learning organization. Such data range from statistical information derived from student testing to observational data from employee evaluation systems to formative data on student and educator progress toward targeted learning goals.

Data-Based Decision Making

An ongoing process of analyzing and evaluating data and information to inform important educational decisions and actions. Data-based decisions are made at each step of the problem-solving process.

Diagnostic Measures

Formal or informal assessment tools that measure skill strengths and weaknesses, identify skills in need of improvement, and assist in determining why the problem is occurring.

Differentiated Instruction

A framework for effective teaching that supports different students with varying avenues to learn (often in the same classroom). Differentiation involves tailoring assessment, curriculum, and instructional materials to the learning needs of individual and groups of students.

District Based Leadership Team (DBLT)

A district-level team responsible for providing instructional and curricular leadership, advisement, and training at the district level, monitoring, and assisting schools in their implementation efforts.



Early Warning Systems

Monitoring systems that use readily available school data to identify students who are at risk of not graduating from or dropping out of high school. Early Warning Systems allow educators to identify students in need of early intervention.


An evaluation consists of all relevant assessment tools and strategies used to collect functional, developmental, and academic information about a student in order to determine specialized instructional need. Therefore, in this context, an evaluation includes existing data collected prior to obtaining parental consent for an evaluation (e.g., classroom performance; observations; interviews; screening, progress monitoring, and diagnostic assessments; district and state assessments; private assessments; and parental input) and any additional assessment procedures conducted subsequent to receipt of parental consent.


Those educational or instructional practices that have been shown to have a positive effect on student learning. Evidence is established through scientific research or evidence that the practice was effective in an applied setting.

Exceptional Student Education (ESE)

Specially designed instruction and related services that are provided to meet the unique needs of exceptional students who meet eligibility criteria described in Rules 6A-6.03011 through 6A-6.0361, F.A.C.




Fidelity involves the extent to which actions (e.g., instruction, intervention, problem-solving) were implemented as intended. There are three basic types of fidelity for districts and schools to consider monitoring within an MTSS:

  • Fidelity of implementing the critical components of a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS).
  • Fidelity of using the problem-solving process across all three tiers.
  • Fidelity of implementing evidence-based interventions matched to specific need(s).

Please see the Thinkific series of professional learning courses on Fidelity for additional information.

Formative Assessment

Formative assessment is a process used by teachers and students during instruction that provides feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning to improve student achievement. Formative assessments are questions, tools, and processes that are embedded in instruction. They are used by teachers and students to provide timely feedback for purposes of adjusting instruction and/or learning efforts.



Individual Educational Plan (IEP)

A written plan to identify the annual goals and objectives and special education and related services designed to meet the individual needs of a student with a disability. The IEP is developed by teachers, parents, the student, and others, as appropriate, and is reviewed annually.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law ensuring effective services for children with disabilities. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services to eligible students with disabilities.


The physical, procedural, organizational structures and resources necessary to establish, support, and sustain implementation of problem solving using response to instruction/intervention data within a multi-tiered system of student supports.


Instruction means actions planned and delivered by a teacher or mentor that result in learning (of knowledge or competencies) by those for which the instruction is designed and on which the instruction is focused.

Intensity of Instruction/Intervention

Intensity consists of three variables: time, focus, and group size. An increase in intensity would be reflected by (a) an increase in the amount of time students would be exposed to instruction/intervention, (b) a narrowing of the focus of instruction/intervention, and/or (c) a reduction in group size.


Curricular, instructional, and/or other adjustment made to address core instructional issues. Interventions may also be provided to students in small groups or individually, in addition to and aligned with core instruction in order to target a specific skill or concept.




Leadership is a process in which one person enlists the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task. It is focused on developing shared vision, team learning processes, and connecting individual and organizational goals. Effective leadership often is evidenced by teams or individuals who establish and articulate a clear vision with a sense of urgency for change, maintain focus and deliver a consistent message of implementation over time, create relationships with stakeholders based upon mutual respect and shared responsibility, engage in expert problem solving, and invest in professional development.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

An IDEA principle that students with disabilities have access to the general education curriculum in the general education setting to the maximum extent possible. Removal of exceptional students from regular educational environments occurs only if the nature or severity of the exceptionality is such that education in the regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.



Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)

A Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is an educational framework designed to ensure successful educational outcomes for all students. When districts and schools are organized as an MTSS, educators use a data-based, problem-solving process to inform multiple tiers of standards-aligned instruction and intervention designed to increase the academic, behavioral, emotional, and life skills of students. For more information on MTSS, please see the Overview of MTSS page for additional resources.



Performance Feedback

Evidence-based strategy for increasing fidelity to intervention plans. Performance feedback on intervention fidelity often involves observations of personnel providing interventions or the review of permanent products or documents that naturally results from the use of the intervention. The behavior being considered and evaluated in this case is the implementer’s action in enacting the intervention.

Positive Behavior Support (PBS)

The application of behavior analysis to achieve socially important behavior change. Positive behavior support is an application of a behaviorally-based systems approach to enhance the capacity of schools, families, and communities to design effective environments that improve the fit or link between research- validated practices and the environments in which teaching and learning occurs. Attention is focused on creating and sustaining school environments by making problem behavior less effective, efficient, and relevant, and desired behavior more functional.

Problem Solving

The recursive, self-correcting, systematic process of finding solutions by accurately identifying problems, analyzing relevant data to understand why the problem is occurring, designing and implementing probable solutions, and measuring the effectiveness of the solutions that were implemented. Teams continue to engage in problem solving to ensure that student success is achieved and maintained. For more information, please see the Problem Solving within a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) Fact Sheet.

Problem Solving Team

Any team that systematically engages in the process of accurately identifying problems, analyzing relevant data to understand why the problem is occurring, designing and implementing probable solutions, and measuring the effectiveness of the solutions that were implemented.

Professional Development

As defined by Learning Forward, "The processes and activities designed to enhance the professional knowledge, skills, and attitudes of educators so that they might, in turn, improve the learning of students. Well-designed professional development should be an intentional, meaningful, ongoing, and systematic process for educators to enhance their practice."

Professional Learning Community (PLC)

A professional learning community (PLC) is an extended learning opportunity to foster collaborative learning among colleagues within a particular work environment or field. It is often used in schools as a way to organize educators into working groups focused on a targeted improvement issue. A variety of national organizations provide protocols and processes to help PLCs run effectively.

Progress Monitoring

Ongoing process of collecting and analyzing data to determine student progress toward specific skills or general outcomes. Progress monitoring is used to assess student’s academic development, to quantify student rate of improvement or responsiveness to instruction, and to evaluate the effectiveness of instruction.



Response to Intervention (RtI)

Response to Intervention is the fourth step of the problem-solving process in which progress monitoring data are evaluated to determine the extent to which students responded to instruction or intervention by making sufficient progress toward an identified goal. This step of the problem-solving process requires educators to make decisions using various pieces of information including (1) the level of performance (the current gap between current and expected levels of performance), (2) rate of progress (how quickly the size of the gap is closing), and (3) decision rules previously established regarding adequate rate of progress. During this process, data are continuously monitored over time, which allows educators to determine if an intervention is working as intended.



School-Based Leadership Team (SBLT)

A school-level team responsible for developing a school implementation plan and leading implementation efforts. The school-based team becomes coaches for the school staff and will be responsible for schoolwide implementation.

Standard Protocol Approach

A method of delivering intervention to students with similar learning or behavior needs. Students often are grouped for intervention based on common skill deficits identified through data. Students with common needs receive the same intervention and their progress is monitored to determine their response to the intervention.


Standards, while having many uses in general language, is used in the common language of instruction to focus on levels of understanding or proficiency in specific subjects or areas of practice. Standards are something set up and established by authority as a rule for measures of quality and are within the scope of responsibility of the individuals to whom the standards are to apply.

The Florida Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, and are designed to be relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that students need for success in both college and work.

Standards of professional practice identify the expectations for performance and understanding on which educators and districts will be evaluated and which focus the goals and processes of professional development (e.g., Florida Educator Accomplished Practices, Florida’s Leadership Standards, and Florida’s Professional Development System Evaluation Protocol).

Student-Centered Data

Instructionally relevant student information gathered through record reviews, interviews, observations, informal and formal assessments, and tests that are utilized to inform instructional decisions.

Summative Assessments

Assessments typically administered near the end of the unit, semester, or school year to give an overall assessment of the mastery of standards. Results are often used for high-stakes decisions.

Systems Coaching

Systems coaching is the application of a set of skills that provides dynamic support and facilitation to develop the capacity of school or district teams to implement MTSS aligned with the school or district improvement plans in order to enhance student outcomes. For more information please see the Systems Coaching and Leadership Fact Sheet.




The term tiers is used to communicate a hierarchical relationship among elements in a complex system. For example, the broad instructional design of a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) in Florida addresses three tiers or levels of academic and behavioral support aligned to ongoing assessments of student learning needs. Tier 1 includes the instruction that is accessible to all students. Tier 2, or supplemental instruction and intervention, is provided to students not meeting expectations and is often delivered to small groups of students who will likely benefit from instruction focused on the same target skill(s). Tier 3, or intensive intervention, is intended for students experiencing significant barriers to learning. Tier 2 and 3 interventions should be aligned with Tier 1 and include additional instructional time focused on critical skills.



Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework for designing curricula that enable all individuals to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for learning. UDL provides rich supports for learning and reduces barriers to the curriculum while maintaining high achievement standards for all. This framework includes multiple means of representation, multiple means of expression, and multiple means of engagement.

Universal Screening Measures

Assessment tools designed to collect data for the purpose of evaluating the effectiveness of core instruction for all students and identifying students who may need additional interventions and support.