PlusFour Solutions: Guidance through Assessment

Educational Assessment

School Testing / 504 Plan / Individualized Educational Plan (IEP)

Children are often tested to provide their teacher(s) with information about their cognitive abilities and academic functioning. Two federal laws apply directly to special education for children: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

504 Plan

Section 504 is a civil rights statute requiring that schools not discriminate against children with disabilities. Schools must provide reasonable accommodations for children with disabilities, such as wheelchair-accessible classrooms, extended time on tests, etc.

The purpose of a 504 Plan is to recognize a student’s needs and to provide the framework for accommodating those needs to the student’s family and school.

The 504 process applies to children in the public school system, but often has a counterpart in the private school setting (i.e., Student Study Team). When a student’s needs cannot be met by a 504 Plan, or there is a need for more structure in the process of communication between home and school, an IEP may be more appropriate.

IDEA and Individualized Educational Plan (IEP)

IDEA is the law that provides money to school districts for students with special education needs. Students must meet established criteria to receive accommodations in the classroom, work with a resource specialist, or be placed in a special needs classroom.

Students may qualify for special services under IDEA for a variety of reasons:

  • Speech and language disorder
  • Learning disabilities
  • Intellectually limited (mental retardation)
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Emotionally disturbed
  • Visually impaired (legal blindness)
  • Orthopedically impaired
  • Autism
  • Other health impaired (ADHD and other medical conditions)

Once a student has been tested, an IEP may be created by a team at the student’s school. This process is specific to the public school system, however many private schools have the ability to utilize testing data and create a plan for students as well. Cooperation between the classroom teacher, parents, resource specialist, and student is critical to success.

Families can receive additional information about special education laws at the following web sites: