504 Plan vs IEP

This post was originally written for another site of mine in May 2017. I have updated the post and am sharing it with you now.

We had done an IEP with Blake from Kindergarten until about third grade for his speech, but we had never done a 504 plan.

I am not an expert by any means, but I did want to share what I learned and what the difference between a 504 plan and an IEP is since it seems to be a common question among parents with children with special needs.

504 Plan vs IEP


IEP is short for Individualized Education Program.

The IEP creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel, and students (when appropriate) to work together to improve educational results for children with disabilities.

Source: US Department of Education

For Blake, he had an IEP from Kindergarten through third grade for his speech. We had our IEP meetings with Blake, his teacher, and the speech teacher to discuss and evaluate the behavior that was an issue.

The main key to an IEP is that you are modifying a behavior.

For Blake, we were modifying his speech and how he spoke certain sounds using exercises, tools (such as straws and mirrors), and practicing certain word sounds to improve his speech abilities.

He had 3 specific, measurable goals (80% success or higher) with a specific due dates that we evaluated at the due dates to see where he was making progress, what he had succeeded at, and where he still needed improvement.

By the middle of this school year, he had succeeded in 2 of his 3 goals. His last goal was finally met successfully, allowing him to graduate from speech and no longer be in need of his IEP.

I will say, an IEP has a lot more “standards” and “deadlines” per se, than a 504 Plan. It is a much more “conservative” process with meetings, evaluations, paperwork, follow-ups, etc.

504 Plan

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.

Source: University of Washington, 2017

When this post was originally written in May 2017, we had just a meeting for Blake’s 504 Plan. To add, 504 Plans are good for one year so you should be meeting at the start of the school year and/or the end of the school year to make any necessary changes to the 504 Plan.

The 504 Plan is less… “conservative” so to speak than the IEP process.

The 504 Plan was a meeting between us, Blake’s teacher, and the school psychologist. The principal should also be in attendance.

The main key to a 504 Plan is that you are providing accommodations for the child.

One thing we started with on his 504 Plan is that he takes medication from the nurse’s office at lunch time. Another item was that he is allowed to have “active time” if needed, meaning he can pace or stand in the back of the classroom if he gets antsy (due to his ADHD.)

We wanted the plan put together for next school year as “precautions”. Some of those included that any statements of self-harm or harm to others will result in a phone call home and Blake will have to speak to someone rather than immediately getting suspended. (He is not a violent kid at school, but at times, has difficulty expressing his emotions so rather than get suspended immediately, we want the situation evaluated and handled appropriately for him.)

Another item was that his teacher sends us his schedule the night before for the following day if there will be a change in their normal routine (such as test practice days since it is a day of practice testing and is not a normal schedule school day.) This accommodation allowed us to prep Blake for the next day rather than him refusing to go to school in the morning for the fear of the unknown.

We are making adaptions for him to remain successful in school.

Blake’s 504 Plan will be passed on to his teacher every year. It will be evaluated annually and if we need to add something to it, we can call a 504 Plan meeting anytime during the school year to make adjustments.

State Testing

Additionally – something I didn’t know, but people should be aware of – is that all special education students are provided accommodations during state testing! Fortunately, Blake does really well at school and during testing so he did not need the accommodations provided; but it reassured me to know that there are universal accommodations for special needs students.

Like I mentioned, I am not an expert at either of these items. If you need further assistance, you may look into finding an advocate to assist you or feel free to message me with any questions and I will try to help as best as I can! Again, I am not an expert, but am here to help if I can!

Until next time!

Miz B

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