What is it?
504 Education Plan is an alternative education plan for students having healthcare or learning needs and it enables them to properly access the instructional content and programs. The plan is often used in cases when the student is not eligible for services under an Individual Education Plan. If you are a parent who is looking for a more independent program that allows you to address any physical, emotional, mental or processing problems that might be affecting your child’s education then you may consider the 504 Plan.
When should one consider it?
Students facing academic difficulties can be assessed by an interdisciplinary team that is governed by the individuals with disabilities Education Act. The child must meet specific criteria for being eligible for services in one of 13 special education categories. You also need to provide with diagnosis and educational evidence that reflect particular conditions are having an impact on student’s education in the general education curriculum. If the student meets the eligibility criteria then a team writes an IEP which provides him or her with learning and behavioral interventions and aids that are meant for improving the learning outcomes. Also there are a few physical, mental, behavioral, or learning problems that do not meet IDEA criteria for traditional special education services – in such a case 504 plan should be considered.
A 504 Plan in education falls under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which is a law that bans discrimination against public school students with disabilities. At first the law was applied to physically abled students such as students who needed wheelchairs or required ramps to access the premises of school. With time the law’s application has extended to even those with learning and attention issues who meet a certain criteria. 504’s eligibility is independent from an IDEA assessment for special education services or it can be availed as a result of not falling under the IDEA criteria. Students go through a similar assessment as with IDEA, but for the 504 plan –acceptance is much broader. A documentation must show that student exhibit a non-transient, limiting physical or mental impairment that are affecting one or more major life activities such as reading, concentrating or moving. Examples include:
- Chronic Fatigue
- Chronic Depression
- Food Allergies
- Auto-Immune Disorders
- Hearing Impairments
- Attention Deficits With or Without Hyperactivity
- Autism Spectrum Disorders Not Included Under IDEA
- Developmental Behavioral Disorders
- Neurological Impairments Affecting Motor Skills and Communication
What accommodations student gets under the 504 plan in Education?
The 504 plan does not fall under special education services. Therefore, the case managers could be a classroom teacher, guidance counselor, administrator or other assigned personnel. A 504 plan in Education is written manually by the manager and covers the various accommodations, modifications and strategies needed by the student in learning and non-learning environments. For example, a child who is sensitive to loud sounds might be given an alternate place from a noisy cafeteria to eat lunch. Accommodations typically fall under these categories:
- Classroom Environment and Seating
- Learning and Organizational Styles
- Self-Esteem and Socialization
- Attention and Behavior
- Meditation and Positive Behavior Interventions
- Content and Skills Acquisition
- Assignment and Homework Modifications
- Test taking and grading adjustments
- Communication between Home, School and Community
- Aides and Technology Devices
- Medication Protocols
If implemented in the correct way then a 504 plan can be less intrusive as they stay in general education environments where they can better meet academic milestones.