As a parent, I’m sure you’ve heard the term “504 plan” thrown around. It can sound cryptic at first but I promise it’ll make sense once we define what it is and how it works. So let’s dive into answering the question of what is a 504 plan?
What is a 504 Plan?
A 504 plan, also known as section 504, is defined by tea.texas.gov as:
Section 504 protects people with a physical or mental impairment
that substantially limits a major life activity, such as caring for one’s
self, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, working, performing
manual tasks, and learning
In short, the 504 plan puts accommodations in place for students with learning differences or learning disabilities. There’s a number of differences between section 504 and an IEP plan that we’ll later discuss. For now, it’s important to note that a 504 plan makes a classroom more accessible.
What Are the Accommodations?
The accommodations present for 504 plans are numerous. It includes but is not limited to:
- Extra time on tests
- priority seating in class
- dedicated note takers
- visual aids
These accommodations keep the student in the standard classroom, but ultimately make it more accessible for them while present. There may be a number of reasons why students may require accommodations. Learning differences such as:
504 Plans Vs. IEPs
It’s a common misconception for parents to think that section 504 is apart of an individualized education plan. (also known as special education) While most students with IEPs have 504 accommodations, not all students with 504 accommodations have IEPs. The reason for this is because IEPs separate students into a more individualized environment that suits their needs better. Often times this environment has a dedicated teacher that specializes in teaching students with special needs. 504 on the other hand keeps students in the classroom with their peers. The goal is to give the student accommodations to make the typical classroom setting more accessible for them.
Do You Need 504 Accommodations?
Now that we know what section 504 is, you may be wondering how you know you need the accommodations. The best way is by opening a line of communication with your student. If your student is having difficulties in class, it may be worth emailing the teacher about it. Often times they’ll have the best info and recommendations. If you know that your child has ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, or another learning difference that makes it difficult, begin discussing with your school about the options available. Many schools have a dedicated 504 coordinator that handles these cases. It’s important to bring proper documentation to this individual as they need as much info as possible to issue 504 accommodations.
What If You Don’t Qualify?
If the school does not deem that your student qualifies for 504 accommodations, it may be worth it to challenge the decision. This is also known as a dispute resolution which requires the school to look into providing accommodations once more. Make sure to provide as much documentation as possible to improve the chances of getting approved.
Building the 504 Plan
Once approved, the school’s 504 coordinator will work with you in developing a 504 plan for your student. Be honest during this process as each point discussed while developing the plan will go into developing the accommodations. Once the plan is complete, your child’s teachers will be informed of the accommodations and the classroom will begin implementing these changes for the student.
I hope I was able to help you in answering your question of what is a 504 plan. While we just dipped below the surface in this article, I recommend connecting with your child’s school for the most up-to-date info on the process. If you’re looking for a school that is built around accommodating students with 504 concerns, look into a one-to-one private school! Our school: The Tenney School is able to accommodating most students with a 504 plan as our one-to-one learning model is completely individualized. Our teachers develop a lesson plan with the student to make sure they’re on track for success. Contact us today and see what we can do for you!