An Individualized Educational Program (IEP) is a document that is created for public school students who are assessed and determined to be eligible for special education. Because an IEP is tailored for the individual student, each one will look different.
An IEP is required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which also controls all of the IEP’s procedural requirements. An IEP also requires documentation of measurable growth.
A 504 is the number of the section of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It has more to do with accommodations.
The Act states, “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States… shall, solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
This means that any child with a disability who attends an elementary or secondary school or college, university or vocational school shall receive accommodations to ensure their academic success.
A 504 is generally less involved than an IEP and requires only a document that outlines the student’s specific accommodations or accessibility requirements.
For example a student who has suffered hearing loss may need to have access to written materials for lectures and presentations or Bluetooth or online streaming options. A 504 is generally for students who have a disability and need an accommodation but do not require specialized instruction. A 504 can also be created for short term accommodations such as a broken arm or pregnancy.
However, whether a student has an IEP or a 504 know that they should both be updated annually.