IEP versus 504 Plan

Many parents have concerns about their children’s speech and language skills.  Teachers may notice a student having difficulty in the classroom with speech or language… so what’s the solution?  Many times, a team of professionals at school will problem solve together in an informal meeting. At this meeting, the teachers, therapists, principals and other specialists may offer ideas on how to best assist a student to reach their academic potential.  Once these ideas are put into place and a student continues to struggle, the team may look at providing supports and modifications/accommodations via an IEP or 504 plan.   What’s the difference between these two?

IEP (Individualized Education Plan) is a written document or plan for a child’s special education experience at school.

  • provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); it is a federal special education law for children with disabilities
  • provides individualized special education and related services to meet unique needs of child
  • no cost
  • To obtain an IEP, a student must have one or more of the 13 disabilities listed in IDEA, AND the disability must affect the child’s academic performance.
  • Parents may ask for an independent educational evaluation (outside expert), but the district does not have to agree
  • Created by a team that includes:
    • Parent
    • General Education Teacher
    • Special Education Teacher
    • School psychologist
    • Special Education Coordinator
  • An IEP must include goals, current levels of performance, timing of services, accommodations (changes to environment), modifications (changes to what child is expected to learn), how a child will participate in standardized tests, and how child will be included in general education classes.

A 504 plan is a written document or plan that describes how a child will have access to learning at school.

  • provided using the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • provides changes to learning environment to meet needs of child as adequately as other students
  • no cost
  • To obtain a 504 plan, a child must have ANY disability that interferes with their ability to learn in the general education classroom.  Section 504 has a broader definition of a disability than IDEA.  A child who does not qualify for an IEP may benefit from a 504.
  • Parents can not ask for an independent educational evaluation (outside expert)
  • Created by team of professionals who are familiar with child which usually includes parent, teachers, and principal.
  • Usually includes accommodations, supports for the child and who will provide these supports