Individualized Education Program (IEP) – The Individualized Educational Program (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. Read more about IEP here and here.
504 Plan – A section of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against students with disabilities; this includes learning disabilities including attention deficits. The 504 Plan is a plan developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives accommodations that will ensure their academic success and access to the learning environment. Read more information about 504 Plans.
Please keep in mind that just because a child has a learning disability, doesn’t mean they will automatically receive 504 accommodations; parents/guardians must go through the proper channels.
What is the difference between 504 and IEP Plans?
Not all students who have disabilities require specialized instruction. For students with disabilities who do require specialized instruction, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) controls the procedural requirements, and an IEP is developed. The IDEA process is more involved than that of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and requires documentation of measurable growth. For students with disabilities who do not require specialized instruction but need the assurance that they will receive equal access to public education and services, a document is created to outline their specific accessibility requirements. Students with 504 Plans do not require specialized instruction, but, like the IEP, a 504 Plan should be updated annually to ensure that the student is receiving the most effective accommodations for his/her specific circumstances.