Breaking Down IEPs and 504 plans: What Every Parent Needs to Know

|October 31, 2023 | IEP

The evaluation is completed. The evaluation team sat down to discuss the results. The team agreed that your child qualifies for an IEP (individual education program), but the school insists that a 504 plan is really all that is needed.

What do you do?

 If the TEAM agrees that the child qualifies for an IEP, the child should receive an IEP. Let’s explore the differences between an IEP and a 504 plan.

A 504 plan is derived from Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. This federal law provides disabled individuals access to an education as if they are non-disabled.

A 504 plan will provide accommodations for the child to access the general education. It does not modify the curriculum to your child’s needs. An example of an accommodation may be preferential seating, allowing your child to sit in the classroom where they can learn best. This may be front and center or next to the teacher’s desk. Another example is breaking down longer assignments, meaning if the class has a large project due in a month, the teacher may provide smaller steps with due dates for your child.

On the other hand, an IEP will provide academic, behavioral, emotional, and/or social goals or related services for your child. The IEP incorporates a transition plan from high school to adulthood to help your child gain the skills to live independently, obtain a job, or attend higher education. The IEP will include modifications and accommodations to the general education curriculum. For example, if your child reads at a lower level, the IEP will ensure that your child is learning from the same curriculum but on their level.

An IEP is derived from the federal law of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and provides more safeguards for your child. Progress monitoring reports are required regularly, and more data is collected with an IEP than with a 504 plan.

So, if your child’s team determines that they qualify for an IEP, it is highly recommended that you do not settle for a 504 plan. IEPs and 504 plans can always be re-evaluated. Your child should receive a re-evaluation every 2-3 years to ensure that they are progressing and that their needs have not changed.

Remember, you are your child’s best advocate. It is important to be informed. If you need help, feel free to contact us at (717) 221-8303.

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