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IEP and 504 Plans: Everything You Need to Know

Geoff Nixon

By Geoff Nixon

How is an IEP different to a 504 plan?

Some parents will learn this year that their young child requires an Individualized Education Program, or IEP. It’s possible that they’re falling behind academically. It might be a physical handicap that parents are unaware of or that they are disturbing the classroom.. The causes are as diverse as the youngsters themselves.

However, some children may need a 504 plan as an alternative. But what are the differences between an IEP and 504 plan? How do such school plans benefit children that may be struggling in class? In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know.

What is an IEP?

An IEP stands for Individualized Education Program. This is a plan or program that is designed to guarantee that a student with a handicap who is enrolled in an elementary or secondary school receives customized teaching and related services from a team of experts. The IEP is created by a group of people from several educational disciplines, as well as the disabled student, family members, and/or appointed advocates.

The following items are usually included in an IEP:

  • Appropriate educational adjustments, e.g., sitting at the front of the class, added time with a speech therapist – required in order for the child to succeed.
  • Setting annual educational goals and objectives that may be measured.
  • The child’s participation and progress in the general curriculum.
  • All associated services that the student is eligible for.

To put it simply, an IEP can be beneficial for children who are dealing with behavioral issues, stress, a learning issue – diagnosed or undiagnosed disability, or other roadblocks that may be affecting their early success in school.

What is a 504 Plan?

A 504 plan is a roadmap for how a school will assist and remove barriers to learning for a student with a disability. The purpose is to provide equitable access to all students at school.

504 plans are official plans developed by schools to provide the help that children with disabilities require. That includes any ailment that severely restricts everyday activities. Discrimination is avoided with these strategies. They also safeguard the rights of students with impairments in the classroom. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act applies to them. This is a piece of civil rights legislation.

Special education does not include 504 plans. As a result, they differ from IEPs. Various regulations apply to 504 plans and IEPs, and they function in different ways. However, the overall purpose remains the same: to assist pupils in succeeding in school.

Accommodations are one method 504 plans do this. They could, for example, allow for extra time on examinations or the freedom to leave the classroom for brief periods of time. Some may also include treatments such as speech-language therapy or study skills workshops, though this is less typical. Typically, schools prepare 504 plans in writing. They are not, however, obligated to do so. There are no hard and fast guidelines for how a 504 plan should appear or what it should contain. The policies on 504 plans are the only items that schools must put in writing.

Examples of 504 Plans

Examples of accommodations in 504 plans include preferential seating., extended time on tests and assignments, reduced homework or classwork, and modified textbooks or audio-video materials. 504 plans can also provide verbal, visual, or technology aids. Such plans can also offer behavior management support as well as adjusted class schedules or grading.

The Differences Between an IEP and a 504 Plan

IEP and 504 plans come from different legislation and so it’s no surprise they are different, in goals and in scope. Both an IEP and a 504 plan provide accommodations. An IEP only provides specialized education services for children in years K–12,. A 504 plan can assist students in grades K–12 and college.

Children who can function in the mainstream with accommodations will find a 504 plan less restrictive and less stigmatizing.  If a child needs to be pulled out of class for specialized services or cannot function in a mainstream class, an IEP is more suitable.

Students with autism, blindness, deafness, physical handicap, particular learning difficulties, speech impairment, emotional disorders, intellectual disabilities, and traumatic brain injuries are among those who qualify for an IEP.

Where 504 plans are different

The requirements for 504 plans are a little different. A person who qualifies for a 504 plan is defined as an individual with a handicap that substantially restricts one or more of such person’s principal living activities, according to Section 504. 504 plans are frequently given to pupils who have medical issues or a condition that necessitates assistance but does not necessitate specialized teaching. To decide if a 504 plan is required, the school team should consult with the child’s doctors, family members, teachers, and other relevant service providers.

Some students who do not meet the requirements for special education services under an IEP may be eligible for assistance under a 504 plan. For example, a child with a handicap who has to use a word processor instead of handwritten assignments yet does not benefit from strategic individualized training in an academic subject may have a disability that extends to schoolwork. Another student may have severe asthma and require special accommodations in physical education, such as taking breaks after a lengthy period of time, but is physically capable of engaging in class with their classmates.

Can you have a 504 plan and an IEP?

It could happen, but it is unlikely.  Before deciding on the best approach and taking the next steps, the team must work together to acquire information and collect complete data about the youngster. While both IEP and 505 plans are appropriate for students in years K–12 and can provide help through accommodations, there are some key differences.

The goal of an IEP is to protect a child’s rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) while simultaneously satisfying the child’s needs through a customized support system. IEPs are annual documents that contain additional intentional interventions in the form of specialized educational goals and objectives. 504 plans are non-specialist accommodations that do not require specialized training and do not need to be renewed every year. Both options provide advantages for assisting students on their journey to independence!

Gemm Learning, IEPs and 504 Plans

Gemm Learning works with a number of students with IEPs and 504 Plans.  It depends very much on the added services or routines that might accompany these initiatives, but a long-term solution such as a learning intervention by Gemm Learning can play an important role – especially when the school is needing to make accommodations for your child. A program like Fast ForWord that has the potential to get your child off an IEP or 504 plan can be very welcome.

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