Understanding 504 Plans and IEP Assessments

A 504 plan and an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) are covered by specific laws and work differently but both are a blueprint designed to support kids and their parents. The end goal is the same, these plans list accommodations to help students find success in school. Many kids with learning deficits and attention issues don’t need individualized instruction or special education but might need support or services at school. A 504 Plan and an IEP specify how school administrators and teachers will provide support for a child ensuring that he or she will have equal access to the general education curriculum.

A 504 Plan is designed to remove barriers to learning and provide students with disabilities an opportunity to learn along with their peers with support and accommodations from educational professionals. An IEP provides information to help parents and educators have a deeper understanding of a child’s strengths and challenges. A child must have one or more of the 13 specific disabilities listed in the IDEA to qualify for an IEP. It outlines a specific plan that the school will follow to improve and build a child’s skills.

What is a 504 Plan?

A 504 Plan is a formal document that lists specific classroom accommodations to provide kids with disabilities the support they need to be successful in school. It is covered under the Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which is a civil rights law. A 504 Plan is developed by schools to prevent discrimination, protect the rights of kids with disabilities and provide necessary support to help them succeed academically. A 504 Plan is not part of special education and does not provide individualized instruction like an IEP; it does include classroom accommodations and support from the teacher.

What is an IEP?

An IEP is an individualized education plan designed for children who have a documented learning disability, developmental delay, speech impairment or significant behavioral disturbance. It is covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which is a federal special education law for children with disabilities. An IEP requires a formal evaluation process and the child must have one or more of the 13 specific disabilities listed in the IDEA. Children with learning and attention issues may qualify for an IEP.

An IEP outlines measurable goals for each child which are closely monitored to ensure success. Children with an IEP qualify for special education services and an individualized learning format (e.g., one-on-one instruction, small group learning, pull out to a resource environment). An IEP is a formal, written document that sets learning goals for a child and describes the specific services the school will provide to help the child succeed.

Which is best a 504 Plan and IEP Assessment?

An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and a 504 Plan offer support and formal help for students with learning and attention issues. They are similar in several ways but quite different in others. It is important to consult with educational professionals to determine which plan is best for your child.

504 Plan and IEP Assessment Terms and Definitions

  1. Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) is an umbrella term for a variety of disorders that affect the way the brain processes auditory information. Auditory Processing Disorder can result in difficulties with attention, speech production, and reading.

  2. Declarative memory (sometimes referred to as explicit memory) is one of two types of long-term human memory. Declarative memory refers to memories that can be consciously recalled as facts and verbal knowledge.

Declarative memory can be divided into two categories: episodic memory, which stores specific personal experiences and semantic memory, which stores factual information.

  1. Phonological processes are patterns of sound errors that developing children typically use to simplify speech as they are learning to talk. They do this because they don’t have the ability to coordinate the lips, tongue, teeth, palate and jaw for clear speech.

  2. Processing speed has to do with how quickly a person can carry out simple or automatic cognitive tasks; usually this is measured under time pressure such that a degree of focused attention is involved.

  3. Recognition memory is a subcategory of declarative memory and is the ability to recognize previously encountered events, objects, or people.

  4. Visual motor integration (VMI) consists of coordinating visual perceptual skills together with gross-motor movement and fine-motor movement. It is the ability to integrate visual input with motor output.

  5. Visual processing disorder is a problem with the way the brain deals with visual information. The eyes may be sending a perfectly accurate message, but the brain is unable to process that information. The brain is responsible for using information from the eyes to create images and impressions.

  6. Visual reasoning is the process of manipulating one’s mental image of an object to reach a certain conclusion.

About the author

Vikki Carrel

Vikki Carrel

Academic Language Therapist, Multi-book Author, National Speaker

Vikki empowers people! She is an Academic Language Therapist, multi-book author and a national speaker. Vikki grew up in Salt Lake City, met her husband at the University of Utah, and has owned several companies across the United States. In 2010, Vikki and her husband moved back to Utah from Doylestown, Pennsylvania and she founded Vikki Carrel & Company, a speaking and training organization. Read more about the author

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