The Differences Between IEPs & 504 Plans

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  • 0:03 Understanding IEPs and 504s
  • 1:02 Eligibility
  • 1:56 Creation
  • 2:53 Information
  • 4:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Bradshaw

Rebecca Bradshaw has a Master of Arts in Teaching and has experience teaching ELA, ESL, and high school CTE courses.

Both an IEP and a 504 plan are required by federal law to prevent discrimination of students with disabilities. The following lesson will compare and contrast the two documents.

Understanding IEPs and 504s

In order to gain a clear understanding of the differences between IEPs and 504s, we first need to make sure we have a solid understanding of what each plan is and its purpose. An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a special education document that has been tailored to meet the specific needs of a child who qualifies for services; it is required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

A 504 plan is a document that identifies the needs of a student who does not qualify for special education services but who meets the criteria for a Section 504 disability due to a learning or attention issue. This is required under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that prohibits discrimination because of a disability. Now that we've defined an IEP and a 504, lets look at some differences in the eligibility requirements, how and by whom they are created, and the information that is required in each document.


To qualify for special education services, a comprehensive evaluation must take place. Anyone who feels that a child is struggling may refer the child for an evaluation. School professionals, such as an educational diagnostician or school psychologist, then administer a variety of tests and observe the child. The results are gathered and used to determine if the student meets the eligibility requirements of one of the 13 qualifying disabilities under IDEA; if eligibility is met, then the student is entitled to receive special education services and an IEP is developed.

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