IEP vs 504

What is an IEP?

    The acronym IEP stands for Individualized education Program. The Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) is a plan or program developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives specialized instruction and related services. {Think of it as my legal agreement with the school which list the services they will provide (number of hours per day, and where) and goals for your child.}

 

What is a 504?

    Is a plan designed to accommodate the individuals with a disability under the American with Disabilities Act. Section 504: refers to specific laws that protect students who need accommodations in order to have a “level playing field” – meaning, the student needs accommodations that will give him/her the opportunity for equality. Children who qualify for section 504 may or may not have a formal diagnosis. If they have a formal diagnosis (even if it is one of the diagnoses listed under IDEA/IEP), the child’s needs must be met.

 

What are the differences between a 504 Plan and an IEP?

    A 504 Plan and an IEP also have unique differences. The way in which a student qualifies for services under each plan is a major difference. It is more difficult to qualify for special education services and receive an IEP. A student must meet criteria under one of the categories of special education. A student can have a disability, yet not qualify for special education services. To qualify for a 504 Plan, a student must have a disability that is affecting a major life function. Unlike an IEP, a "major life function" does not have to be educational impact. A student can be doing well academically, but need behavioral accommodations or organizational skills due to symptoms of ADHD. With either plan, a direct connection must be made from the disability to the impairment in school. For example, a student who struggles in writing and has an ADHD, would not automatically qualify for a 504 Plan. One would have to prove that the writing problems are a direct result of the ADHD.