So What's the difference?
Both of these plans are designed to support students with disabilities in the educational setting, but they have some key differences. Check them out!
IEP (Individualized Education Program):
Eligibility: To qualify for an IEP, a student must have a disability that adversely affects their educational performance and requires specialized instruction.
Services: IEPs provide a range of individualized services, such as specially designed instruction, related services (like speech therapy), accommodations, and modifications to the curriculum.
Planning Process: The IEP is developed through a formal process involving parents, teachers, special education professionals, and sometimes the student. It includes specific goals, objectives, and measurable outcomes.
Legal Basis: IEPs are governed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which mandates a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for eligible students.
Scope: IEPs are more comprehensive and tailored to the specific needs of the student. They address academic, social, and functional goals.
504 Plan (Section 504 Plan):
Eligibility: To qualify for a 504 Plan, a student must have a disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities, including learning. The disability need not be as severe as for an IEP.
Services: 504 Plans provide accommodations to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to educational opportunities. This can include things like extended time on tests, preferential seating, and note-taking assistance.
Planning Process: The 504 Plan is developed with input from teachers, school staff, and parents. It outlines specific accommodations and supports that the student needs.
Legal Basis: 504 Plans are based on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in federally funded programs, including schools.
Scope: 504 Plans are generally less detailed and encompassing than IEPs. They focus primarily on removing barriers and ensuring equal access, rather than addressing specific academic goals.
In a nutshell, an IEP is a more comprehensive plan tailored to students with significant educational needs due to disabilities, while a 504 Plan is designed to ensure access and remove barriers for students with disabilities, even if their needs are not as extensive. The decision about whether a student receives an IEP or a 504 Plan depends on the nature and severity of the disability and how it impacts the student's educational experience.
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