Educational Information

Below you will find educational information that you can use as a reference in your journey. Please click ‘more’ on each category for a full display of information.

What is an IEP and 504?

What is an IEP?

IEP stands for Individualized Education Program. An IEP is written for a student with a disability who qualifies for special education services. The IEP is a written document that provides information on the student’s current behavior, academic performance, identified needs, goals for improvement, how the school can assist the student, and what services the school will provide. IDEA law requires that any student receiving special education services must have an up-to-date IEP.

What is a 504?

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 guarantees persons with disabilities are given the same access to education. Section 504 is not a special education law and having a 504 plan does not mean that an individual will necessarily receive special education services. Instead, a 504 plan guarantees a right to education and provides individuals with accommodations (such as increased time on testing, or an environment with less stimulation) that will help them gain access to equal educational opportunities.

What is the difference between an IEP and 504?

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.

Source: University of Washington: What is the difference between an IEP and 504? Retrieved June 2015

Additional Resources:

Preparing for IEP/504 Meeting

Before the Meeting

  • Meet with the teacher and specialist to identify goals, current functioning levels, strengths, areas of need, for your child.
  • If you feel your child would benefit from a specific service you can request that the school completes an assessment. It is beneficial to make any requests in writing so you can easily track what has been requested, next steps, and the timeline for when assessments/meetings will occur.
  • Communicate with the meeting organizer to identify a mutually agreeable time to meet.  If you are unable to attend the meeting then contact the school ahead of time to reschedule.
  • Contact the school and request the IEP documents/ assessments that will be discussed at the meeting. This may include notes from any specialists at the school that have worked with your child. This will give you an opportunity to review your child’s progress as well as proposed goals and changes before the meeting.
  • Write down any questions you have for the IEP team as well as any goals for your child that you would like to discuss during the meeting.
  • If appropriate, speak with your child regarding their goals and desires for education.
  • Gather and bring relevant information from outside providers such as therapists, tutors, and doctors.

During the Meeting

  • Actively participate in the meeting and provide any information that you feel will benefit your child at school.
  • Ask questions! Make sure that if there is something you do not understand that it is clearly explained to you.
  • Take lots of notes or record the meeting so you can remember exactly what was discussed and what decisions were reached.
  • Make sure you receive a copy of the IEP at the end of the meeting.
  • Do not sign any documents unless you agree with the content/ any proposed changes.
  • Questions to Consider for a School Meeting Worksheet

After the Meeting

  • Create a file at home and keep all of the paperwork from the IEP in one place.
  • Review the IEP throughout the year to assess whether the goals continue to be a good fit for your child.
  • Continue to work on goals at home as well as at school.
  • Talk with the case manager if you believe revisions need to be considered/made.

*Remember you can call a meeting with the IEP team at any time if you feel your child’s goals need to be revised.


  • You know your child best and are a valuable member of the team at school meetings.
  • If you disagree with the school work through the disagreement through clarifying questions, listening, clearly expressing concerns, and being respectful. You have a right to due process when disagreements arise. This may involve mediation or new assessments from an outside party.
  • The school team is available to help support you and your child. Ask questions to ensure you understand everything that is being discussed and wait to sign documents until any concerns/ questions have been addressed.

Source: National Center for Learning Disabilities, Learning Disabilities, CHADD Parent to Parent: Children with Attention Deficit Disorders, Talk about Curing Autism