Section 504 or an IEP

(A Parent’s Perspective on Getting & Writing a Plan)

by Linda L. Brady, President ALIDA

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

What is it?

  • A civil rights statute
  • Prohibits discrimination in any program or activities in public schools or entities receiving federal fund monies
  • Allows students with disabilities equal access to participate in services and activities equal to those of students without disabilities

What is the process?   

To be considered eligible to receive a Section 504 Plan in a public school a student must be found to have the following:

  1. “A physical or mental impairment (permanent or temporary) that substantially limits one or more major life activities.”
  2. “Have a record of such and impairment” or
  3. “Be regarded as having such and impairment.”
  • Section 504 defines reading as a major life activity.

What is the evaluation process?

  • No formal definition of an evaluation process or test to determine Section 504 Eligibility
  • Assessments may include aptitude or achievement tests, observations, health records, doctor’s diagnosis, social and cultural environmental background, adaptive and behavior scales
  • An appropriate team makes the decision regarding a student’s eligibility
  • Section 504 provides much less guidance than the IDEA
    • HINT: Ask your local school district for a copy of its Section 504 written policies. It is required that each public school district have one on file that should include the following areas:
      1.   An evaluation process
      2.   A reevaluation process (annually)
      3.   Placement
      4.   Procedural Safeguards for the student

 

Programming: What does the Section 504 Plan contain?

  • Appropriate classroom accommodations
  • Use of assistive technology if needed
  • Services are provided within the general education classroom
  • No individual specialized services are provided

 

An Example of a Section 504 Plan for Jane Doe:

Accommodations:
1. Use of multisensory strategies (hand-on activities whenever possible in the general education classroom)
2. Use of a keyboarding program (on iPad, computer, tablet) for writing or testing tasks
3. Allow Jane to test orally to the teacher after attempting testing through keyboarding or handwriting.
4. Break assignments into smaller sections.
5. Allow extended time on testing.

Assistive Technology:
1. for reading: Utilize a text to speech software, digital texts
2. for writing: Utilize speech to text software
3. Use of a keyboard, iPad or tablet.

* * * * * * RESOURCES for 504 PLANS * * * * * *
Alabama Department of Education, Prevention and Support Services: Section 504 Compliance
href=”http://www.alsde.edu/sec/pss/Pages/504compliance-all.aspx?navtext=504Compliance”

U.S. Department of Education:
href=”http://findit.ed.gov/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&affiliate=ed.gov&query=504″

Special Education in Alabama: A Right Not a Favor, published by The Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, July 2014.

Alabama Department of Education, the Dyslexia Resource Guide:
href=”http://www.alsde.edu/sec/ari/Dyslexia/Dyslexia%20Resource%20Guide%20Draft%2011-1-15_AppendK%20explan-vers.pdf#search=dyslexia%20resource%20guide”

 

IEP’s Writing Plans:    Evaluation and Assessment + Programming = Instruction

1. Common language:

  • Evaluation-a comprehensive battery of assessments from many areas of a student’s education to include standardized tests (both intellectual or cognitive abilities), assessments or achievement batteries, criterion-referenced and curriculum based tests, interviews, observations, parent or teacher anecdotal information, rater scales, medical records, grades, attendance.

Example:

a. A referral to special education in a public school setting or
b. a private evaluation from a therapist.

  • Assessment-one single test instrument included in an overall comprehensive evaluation

2. Medical Model vs. an Educational Model

  • Medical model provides a diagnosis based on medical criteria. A diagnosis from a medical, psychiatrist, psychologist or licensed psychometrist provides information for a student’s IEP team to consider when determining eligibility of program planning.
  • Educational Model is based on educational assessments used to determine eligibility for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 or the IDEIA. Additionally, educational assessments provide the basis for developing appropriate goals based on the student’s strengths and weakness areas.

3. IDEA Evaluation: What is the Process?

Special Education process includes:

a. Referral-start timeline
b. Evaluation-end timeline at 60 days
c. Eligibility Determination-additional 30 days
d. Program Planning-development of the IEP-additional 30 days
e. Provision of Services-begins on date written in IEP

Decisions regarding the referral, evaluation, eligibility and programming are made by the IEP team. This is a team of professionals who have special knowledge about the student and includes at a minimum the following members:

  1. Parents or guardian
  2. A general education teacher of the child
  3. A special education teacher
  4. A Local Education Agency Representative
  5. Someone to interpret the education implications of the educational evaluations

NOTE: Other members of the IEP team may be added if needed such as related services personnel, transition services representative, at age three the early intervention representatives, others who you or school invite who have special knowledge regarding your child

 

IDEA Programming: What are the component parts of an Individual Education Program (IEP)?

There are eight primary components:

  1. A student’s present level of academic achievement and functional performance.
  2. Measurable annual goals (both academic and functional)
  3. How progress on the goals will be reported to the parents/guardians and how often.
  4. A detailed description of the special education, related services (speech, OT, PT, etc.) and any needed supplementary aids and services. (This includes specific classroom accommodations)
  5. The amount of non-participation time a student spends out of the general education classroom (receiving individualized instruction)
  6. Any needed modification or accommodations on state or district-wide assessments
  7. A time frame of service provision: start and end dates, the frequency, location and duration of the specialized services, any needed modifications or accommodations
  8. Measurable post-secondary transition goals starting at age 14.

See handout of most recent IEP form downloaded from the ALSDE website:
Alabama Department of Education, Special Education Services:
http://www.alsde.edu/sec/ses/Pages/home.aspx

 

IDEA Programming:   Parent Input

Look in the Appendix under Optional Forms-pp.176-181 and p. 184

 

Programming:   Interpreting evaluation and assessment scores

  • See example of the Normal Curve Equivalent (Bell Curve and Descriptors) Handout

 

Example of evaluation and assessment + programming=instruction.

In this example we will utilize information from a private evaluation of an 8 year old girl experiencing difficulty with reading and written expression skills to plan appropriate goals using an IEP format.

1. Begin with the most recent evaluation information.

AREA Assessment Scores Strength/Weakness Comments
Listening
Comprehension
Oral and
Written Language Scales-2
SS=105 Strength
Reading
Efficiency
Test of Word
Reading Efficiency-2

Total
Word Reading=SS76

Phonemic
Decoding=SS70

Sight Word
Efficiency=SS83

Weakness

Weakness

Below Average

Spelling Test of
Written Spelling-5
SS=83 Below Average

Phonological

Processing

Comprehensive
Test of Phonemic Processing-2

Phonological
Awareness=SS 80

Phonological
Memory=SS 95

Rapid Symbol
Naming=SS 85

Weakness

Relative
Strength

Below Average

Reading
Fluency and Comprehension
Gray Oral
Reading Test-5
Total reading
Quotient= 84
Weakness Rate,
accuracy, fluency and comprehension were all weakness areas

 

Additional information to consider:

  • Letter/Sound
  • Knowledge
  • Confused vowels sounds, confused upper/lower case letters when asked to write, difficulty with 5 consonants sounds, blends and vowel teams. Exhibited b/d, c/k confusion when writing with numerous spelling errors.
  • Grade Level word
  • Lists
  • Identified 6/20 words on the K-5 list
  • Identified 12/20 words on the first grade list

 

2. Write a present level of academic performance (functional level) for this student. Include student strengths and weakness areas.

Jane Doe is an eight year old girl with reading difficulties. The evaluator reported Jane to have an engaging and out-going personality. She is creative, imaginative and enjoys building and drawing things. Recent standardized testing revealed Jane’s academic strengths to be in the areas of listening comprehension, phonological memory skills such as non-word repetition tasks. Jane exhibits good oral language skills relative to her written language skills. Jane’s academic weakness areas are phonological awareness, phonological memory, decoding words, reading fluency and comprehension of reading short passages. Jane’s weakness areas in basic phonological awareness, phonological memory and decoding skills are impacting her ability to read at her grade level.

 

3. Write appropriate individualized goals for decoding and written expression.

Area: Reading/Decoding

Goal: The student will know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words

Benchmark 1: Count, pronounce, blend, and segment syllables in spoken words
Benchmark 2: Blend and segment onsets and rimes of single-syllable spoken words
Benchmark 3: Isolate and pronounce the initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in three-phoneme (consonant-vowel-consonant, or CVC) words.
Benchmark 4: Segment spoken single-syllable words into their complete sequence of individual sounds (phonemes).
Benchmark 5: Demonstrate basic knowledge of one-to-one letter-sound correspondences by producing the primary or many of the most frequent sounds for each consonant.
Benchmark 6: Associate the long and short sounds with common spellings (graphemes) for the five major vowels.
Benchmark 7: Orally produce single-syllable words by blending sounds (phonemes), including consonant blends.

NOTE:

Benchmarks 1-4 are the basic skills needed for phonemic awareness.

Benchmarks 5-7 are the basic skills needed for word analysis and decoding.

Area: Written/Expression

Goal: The student will use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to narrate a single event or several loosely linked events, tell about the events in the order in which they occurred, and provide a reaction to what happened.

Benchmark 1: Compose opinion pieces in which they tell a reader the topic or the name of the book they are writing about and state an opinion or preference about the topic or book (e.g., My favorite book is …).
Benchmark 2: Compose informative or explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.

 

4. The IEP Team will describe the needed special education services, supplemental aids, modifications and/or accommodations.

Special Education Services:

  1. Jane will receive sixty minutes daily of structured, explicit instruction in phonemic awareness, phonological memory and decoding grade level words using a multisensory structured language program and multisensory classroom strategies.
  2. Jane will receive thirty minutes daily of supported written expression instruction within the general education classroom utilizing multisensory strategies, drawing, dictation, and writing to create her thoughts in writing.

Accommodations:

  1. Use of multisensory strategies (hand-on activities whenever possible in the general education classroom)
  2. Use of a keyboarding program (on iPad, computer, tablet) for writing or testing tasks
  3. Allow Jane to test orally to the teacher after attempting testing through keyboarding or handwriting.
  4. Break assignments into smaller sections.
  5. Allow extended time on testing.

Assistive technology:

  1. for reading: Utilize a text to speech software, digital texts
  2. for writing: Utilize speech to text software
  3. Use of a keyboard, iPad or tablet.

 

* * * * * * RESOURCES for IEP PLANS * * * * *

Alabama Department of Education, Special Education Services: http://www.alsde.edu/sec/ses/Pages/home.aspx

Mastering the Maze: http://www.alsde.edu/sec/ses/Policy/Mastering%20the%20Maze.pdf

 

Special Education in Alabama: A Right Not a Favor, published by The Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, July 2014.

 

 

Linda L. Brady, November 12, 2015

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