The Individualized Education Program (IEP), is a written document that's developed for each public school child who is eligible for special education. The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is created through a team effort and reviewed at least once a year.

Before an Individualized Education Program (IEP) can be written, your child must be eligible for special education. By federal law, a multidisciplinary team must determine that (1) she's a child with a disability and (2) she requires special education and related services to benefit from the general education program.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law, requires certain information to be included in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) but doesn't specify how the Individualize Education Program (IEP) should look. Because states and local school systems may include additional information, forms differ from state to state and may vary between school systems within a state. 

Eligibility

A student may qualify for special education services as an individual with special needs in one of thirteen areas identified by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) . These are:

  • Autism
  • Deaf
  • Deaf-Blind
  • Emotionally Disturbed
  • Hard of Hearing
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Multiple Handicapped
  • Orthopedically Impaired
  • Other Health Impaired
  • Specific Learning Disability
  • Speech-Language Impaired
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Visually Impaired

Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team Members

The members of the multidisciplinary team who write your child's Individualized Education Program (IEP) include:

  • You, the parents, who have valuable insights and information about his strengths and needs and ideas for enhancing his education
  • General education teacher(s) who can share information about classroom expectations and your child's performance
  • A special education teacher who has training and experience in educating children with disabilities and in working with other educators to plan accommodations
  • An individual who can interpret the results of your child's evaluation and use results to help plan an appropriate instructional program
  • A representative of the school system who knows about special education services and has the authority to commit resources
  • Individuals with knowledge or special expertise about your child that are invited by you and/or the school district
  • Representatives from transition services agencies, when such services are being discussed
  • Your child, when appropriate, and whenever transition is discussed

Individualized Education Program (IEP) vs 504

What is the difference between an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and a 504 Plan?

Individualized Education Program (IEP)

The Individualized Educational Plan (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.

504

A 504 Plan Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act helps a child with special health care needs to fully participate in school. Usually, a 504 Plan is used by a general education student who is not eligible for special education services. A 504 Plan lists accommodations related to the child’s disability and required by the child so that he or she may participate in the general classroom setting and educational programs. For example, a 504 Plan may include:

  • Plans to make a school wheelchair-accessible
  • Your child’s assistive technology needs during the school day
  • Permission for your child to type assignments instead of writing them by hand
  • Permission for your child to hand in assignments late due to illness or a hospital stay

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.

Subtle but Important Differences

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.

 

Alma Ellis, Director of Special Education - Elementary

Stephanie Sheridan, Director of Special Education - Secondary

If you have questions about Special Education programs or would like to request a review for assessment, contact Special Education at (650) 833-4257 or infospecial-ed@pausd.org