Nutshell Videos: Education Series
By Georgia Fruechtenicht
An IEP is a written plan that describes the special education and related services that a student receives. The process is governed by a federal education law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In order to be eligible for an IEP, a student must have an educational disability under state rules and the disability must impact the student’s education to an extent that creates a need for specialized instruction. Georgia Department of Education Parent Information Fact Sheets
The purpose of a 504 Plan is to remove barriers to learning and provide equal access to education for a student who has a disability. 504 Plans fall under two civil rights laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which prevent discrimination based on disability. “Disability” under 504 Plans is defined as a physical or mental impairment that affects one or more major life activities. 504 Plans offer support to students through accommodations. What is a 504 Plan at Understood.org
MTSS is a problem solving approach to identify and support students who are struggling. The struggle may be academic or behavior, or both. Support is added through interventions based on the students needs. If students do not make adequate progress with interventions, then the Student Support Team may refer a student for an evaluation for special education services. Each school in Coweta County has an MTSS coordinator who can provide more information. A Family Guide to understanding Georgia’s Tiered System of Supports
IEPs and 504 Plans are different.
1) Different laws create them. IEPs come from an education law. 504 comes from Civil Rights Laws.
2) They define the word “disability” differently. IEPs have categories of educational disability and specific criteria. 504 definition is a more broad definition.
3) The level of support is different. IEPs offer individualized instruction based on a student’s unique needs. 504s offer accommodations that change the environment to remove barriers to learning.
4) Progress Monitoring. IEPs have regular reports with progress towards goals. 504s measure progress by general education report cards and assessments.
5) Funding. Districts get federal and state funding for IEPs. There’s no funding for 504s Plans.