504 and IEP’s: What’s the difference?

You are in  agreement  with your child’s school that your child needs help in his school day on specific needs.  Now what? Should your child get a 504 Plan or go the route for an IEP?  How does the school typically decide?  It will depend on the level of needs that your chid is currently expressing.

504 Plans are designed for the student who is able to do the work with the general education teacher but needs some modifications in his school day.  For example, maybe he has a difficult time remembering  what to do next on an assignment which results in the assignment going unfinished.  So the teacher comes up with a strategy to write short bulleted instructions on a sticky note that can either go directly on his assignment or on his desk.  She helps teach him how to use his list, crossing it off as he completes each item.  This is creating an interdependence between your child and his/her teacher as he gains skills to become more independent.   Your child can have testing accommodations through a 504 plan as well such as testing in a small group or extended test time. The general education teacher is responsible for the modifications that are written and agreed upon at your child’s 504 meeting. This is also for students who have severe allergies and medical conditions that require modifications.

IEPs (Individualized Education Plan) are designed for students who need specialized help.  There is a gap in their learning and they need more time and specific attention from a special education teacher to receive that help.  At your meeting, your child’s team will write goals that are aligned with his/her grade level.  If your child has a large gap in his/her abilities, the law says he should be receiving special education time to work on closing those gaps.  As well as having specific goals written for your child on the IEP, it will list accommodations and modifications that he/she will also be receiving throughout the school day.  So who is responsible for implementing these needed and agreed upon accommodations, modifications, and goals?  The special education teacher (or EC teacher) is responsible for working on your child’s goals as well as helping support him/her with those accommodations within the general classroom environment.  Your child’s general education teachers are responsible for implementing the modifications that are written on the IEP.  Examples could be sitting  close to the teacher or restating directions for assignments.  Typically, you will receive a progress report on your child’s goals with each report card.

With Appreciation,

Wendy and Christina

 

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