Special Education Plans: IEP vs. IEE vs. 504 Plans

Do you think your child needs special education services? Do you feel like your child’s school is not sufficiently accommodating his or her environmental and academic needs? Your child may qualify for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), Independent Education Evaluation (IEE), 504 Plan, or other accommodations. By familiarizing yourself with these options, you’ll be properly equipped to advocate for your child. Here is an overview of the difference between IEP, IEE and 504 Plans.

IEP – The First Step in Special Education Accommodations

An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is the first step in the special education process. This occurs within the school. A Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team (MET) at the school will conduct an assessment to determine if the child qualifies for intervention services. If your child meets certain criteria, they will create an IEP that includes:

  • Present Levels of Performance (PLP): Summary of your child’s current performance level in various areas.
  • Goals: Measurable targets for the child’s performance progress over a 12-month period, taking into account the special education accommodations.
  • Objectives: Intermediate steps to get a child from the PLP to the annual goals.
  • Benchmarks: Defined milestones a child must reach in order to achieve annual goals.
  • Assistive Technology (AT): Devices, services and technology the student needs in order to be successful.
  • Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): Description of the ideal environment for the child to provide maximum exposure with general education students while remaining in compliance with his or her disability accommodations.
  • Special Education Services: A description of the types of special education services the student should receive, including timeframes, frequency and scheduling for these services.

Simply put, an IEP explains what the school will provide, what the goals are for your child, and what accommodations your child is going to receive. If your child does not qualify for an IEP or you do not agree with the accommodations listed, you can pursue a second opinion in the form of an IEE.

In many instances, a child will receive a neuropsychological evaluation before pursuing an IEP. The family may come to CNLD Testing & Therapy to find the root cause of a child’s academic struggles, behavioral issues, developmental delays, etc. Then we work with the parents to obtain intervention support at school. This is why we have an educational advocate on staff, to guide families through this process and create a smooth transition for all involved.

IEE – An Outside Evaluation to Determine Special Education Qualifications

An Independent Education Evaluation (IEE) is an assessment performed by a qualified examiner outside of the school system. Think of this as an appeal for your child’s IEP, either to pursue different accommodations or to overturn the school’s decision. The school does not have to accept the results of the IEE, but they do in most cases. At minimum, this process opens the discussion that can lead to special education services.

CNLD Testing & Therapy provides Independent Education Evaluations, as well as educational advocacy, psychological testing, neuropsychological testing, and family/child therapy.  If you are unhappy with the results of your child’s IEP evaluation, contact us at (734) 994-9466 to schedule an IEE.

504 Plan – Accommodations for Children and Adults Who Do Not Qualify for IEP

504 Plans are designed to help students who do not qualify for IEPs but still need some accommodations. For instance, in order to qualify for an IEP, a child typically has to be failing in school. If the child makes C’s and D’s, a 504 Plan may provide the extra help necessary to improve academic performance (extended test times, special due dates, etc.).

One particularly beneficial element of 504 Plans is that they apply to children and adults. IEPs end as soon as a child finishes school, but 504 Plans can apply to workplace accommodations for adults. If you are an adult in need of employment accommodations, a 504 Plan could be an option for you.

College students can use 504 Plans for academic accommodations. At CNLD Testing & Therapy, we help our clients transition from IEPs in high school to 504 Plans in college through our educational advocacy services. We also evaluate and diagnose college students for 504 Plans, regardless of their prior education accommodations.

Which Special Education Plan Is Right for My Child?

The first step in getting special education services is working with the school. Your child will complete the IEP evaluation there to determine what his or her options are. Once you’ve completed that step, then you can consider getting an IEE or additional assessments for special education plans. Our team of neuropsychologists, therapists and educational advocates is here to support you and your family. Give us a call at (734) 994-9466 to learn more about our IEE services.