IEP vs. 504
All children who have had a traumatic brain injury, no matter how minor or severe, are eligible for appropriate modifications to be made to the regular school curriculum, if needed, to increase their success in school.
Are you confused about trying to figure out the differences between an IEP and a 504 plan? You are not alone! Most families, school personnel, and even therapists, are often confused about what is best for their student.
To learn more about assessment of a student with a traumatic train injury, see the Tennessee Department of Education Assessment of Traumatic Brain Injury and Tennessee Department of Education Assessment Documentation
Individual Education Plan (IEP)
An IEP is written document that describes the educational plan for a student with a disability. The people who are concerned with the student's education meet, discuss, and develop IEP goals for the next year. These people must include at least one regular education teacher, at least one special education teacher/provider, someone from the school system (i.e. principal, school counselor) who knows about special education services and educating students with disabilities and who can talk about what resources the school system has, and a healthcare professional (i.e. occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech therapist) who can talk about your evaluation results. These meetings may also include parents, the student, service coordinators in Tennessee, Project BRAIN resource team members, and any other person who knows the student's strengths.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or 1973 requires that educational and related services must be provided to meet the individual educational needs of children with disabilities as adequately as the needs of children without disabilities. Accommodations and special education supports and services are discussed and determined between parents and appropriate general education staff at the school. A 504 plan is documented based on the needs determined.
Below is a quick table to help you straighten out the differences.
Individual Education Plan (IEP)
|Covers all school-aged children who fall within one or more specific categories of qualifying conditions (i.e., autism, specific learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, emotional disturbance, traumatic brain injury, visual impairment, hearing impairment, and other health impairments)||
Has physical or mental impairment, substantially limiting one or more major life activities. (Major life activities include: walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, and performing manual tasks.)
**does not cover solely cultural, environmental, or economic factors
|The disability adversely affects his/her educational performance.||The child is not required to need special education to qualify.|
|The child must be fully and comprehensively evaluated by a multidisciplinary team to qualify.||
Requires "periodic" reevaluation.
|Informed and written parental consent is required.||Decisions about the child, evaluation data, and placement options are made by knowledgeable individuals. A 504 plan does not require written consent of the parents, only that the parents are notified.|
|The child must be reevaluated by the multidisciplinary team at least once every three years, or if conditions warrant a reevaluation, or if the child's parent or teacher requests a reevaluation.||Requires reevaluation before a significant change in placement.|
|Appropriate education means a program designed to provide "educational benefit" for a person with disabilities.||"Appropriate" means an education comparable to the education provided to those students who are not disabled|
|Placement may be any combination of special education and general education classrooms||Placement is usually in a general education classroom. Children can receive specialized instruction, related services, or accommodations within the general education classroom.|
|Provides related services, if required. Related services may include speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, counseling services, psychological services, social services, and transportation.||Provides related services, if needed.|
There are seven (7) essential steps in the IEP Process:
1. Referral- referrals are often made by teachers or outside sources
2. Pre-evaluation-All relevant information must be considered before determining decision to evaluate
3. Evaluation- All areas of a suspected disability must be evaluated with the focus on the identification of the child's special education and related service needs
4. Eligibility Determination-After evaluation, the IEP team meets to determine whether the evaluation results indicate the existence of a disability and whether the child exhibits a need for special education.
5. Development of IEP-An IEP is developed to address educational needs that cannot be met in the general education program. Goals and objectives in the IEP are based on the strengths and needs of the child, concerns of the parent(s), and results of the initial or most recent evaluation of the child.
6. Implementation of IEP-Written parental consent is needed prior to implementing the IEP.
7. Annual Review- The student's IEP team must review the IEP at least annually.
A reevaluation must be conducted at least every three years or earlier if conditions warrant. Reevaluations may be requested by any member of the IEP team prior to the triennial due date.
There will be times when you will be expected to present information about your student. Leave out all judgments. Your presentation of information should include:
- The student’s name, age, sex, and reason for referral in the opening statement
- All relevant history (i.e. history of brain injury, developmental delays, academic progress over time, or placement in a special education curriculum)
- Any relative weaknesses and strengths of the student as determined by your observations compared to other children in the class
- Behavior, cognitive, social, and academic requirements of the classroom
- Three or four recommendations that address an immediate plan for how to help the child given the evaluation results.
TN Department of Education Tools and Resources - sample documents for IEP process