Youâ€™ve heard about the I&RS Plan and the
504 Accommodation Plan as well as the IEP, but what are these documents? How
are they different? When are they relevant to your child? And most importantly,
how do you get one if you need one?
Letâ€™s begin with the plan that is least
involved and Iâ€™ll get into the plan that is the most involved.
Intervention & Referral
Services Action Plan
Based on the
NJ Administrative Code (6A; 16-8.1; Establishment of Intervention and Referral
Services) all school districts are required to have an I&RS committee available
for students who are struggling with a learning, behavioral or health issue. The
I&RS team is typically composed of the Principal, Guidance Counselor,
teachers and the I&RS Coordinator. Other members, such as the Reading
Specialist, Occupational/Physical or Speech therapist, and School Nurse can
also be members.
An I&RS plan is developed and implemented within the
school in order to provide accommodations and support to the student. This plan
is created by th I&RS team in conjunction with the studentâ€™s parent(s). Accommodations
are based on teacher observations and interventions already used. No testing is
The types of accommodations that can be a part of an
I&RS plan range from preferential seating, extended time on assignments or
tests, providing a bathroom or snack break, providing verbal and non-verbal
cues to help re-focus, and providing study guides. This plan is reviewed
The 504 Accommodation Plan
The 504 Accommodation Plan is guided by the American with Disabilities
Act (ADA) to ensure that a student with a disability has access to
accommodations to improve academic functioning, as the disability affects the
studentâ€™s ability to perform academically and make progress.
In order to qualify for a 504 Accommodation Plan, a student must have a
diagnosis; however, a diagnosis does not ensure that your child will be granted
a 504 Accommodation Plan. The diagnosis can include a physical or emotional disability, recovering from a chemical
dependency, or impairment (e.g. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) that
restricts one or more major life activity.
A document is created that specifies the disability as well as the
accommodations needed by the student.
Accommodations can consist of: moving a childâ€™s seat, permitting a child
to have frequent snacks or drink in the classroom due to a diagnosis (e.g.,
diabetes, etc), providing extended time on tests or assignments, modifying test
questions, and/or providing statewide testing accommodations. Note that a student is not able to
receive specialized instruction (e.g., In Class Resource program or Out of
Class Resource Replacement) through a 504 Accommodation Plan.
The Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
An IEP is guided by the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and is a plan and program
that provides special education and related services to a student who is
identified as having a disability that negatively impacts ability to receive
academic instruction. A student
who receives special education services is entitled to modification of
curriculum, classroom accommodations, specialized instruction, and related
services such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and/or
An IEP is a comprehensive and legal document that incorporates a
studentâ€™s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance
(PLAAFP) in which each teacher/therapist provides feedback about the studentâ€™s
performance within the subject area and related service. Information from the PLAAFP guides the
goals and objectives, which are specific identification of skills and areas
that will be addressed through the IEP program. Goals and objectives are also
ways of measuring growth within those areas over the course of the school year.
A child who is referred for special education and related services is
tested by the Child Study Team. These evaluations can consist of the
Evaluation, Educational Evaluation, Social Evaluation, Speech Evaluation,
Physical Therapy Evaluation, Occupational Therapy Evaluation. Other evaluations, such as a Central
Auditory Processing Evaluation, neurological exam, or psychiatric evaluation
are often conducted by professionals outside of the school. Parents can request
that the school cover the cost of these evaluations, or pay for them privately.
Note that a parent can also gain an independent evaluation (Psychological,
Educational) on a private basis, and submit these reports for the Child Study
Team to review.
A student with an IEP is re-evaluated every three years to determine
continued eligibility. However, a
parent can request a re-evaluation sooner than three years, but not less than
one year. An IEP is also reviewed annually.
To clarify things a little better, an I&RS plan is what you can seek when your child needs formal accommodations, but does
not have a documented disability (learning, behavioral or emotional). Request a 504 Accommodation Plan when your
child has a diagnosed disability and requires classroom and statewide testing
accommodations. Request a Child
Study Team evaluation for a potential IEP when your child has a disability
(learning, emotional, medical or behavioral) that requires the modification of
curriculum and other special education programs, related services, and
classroom and statewide testing accommodations. I hope this has taken the mystery out of which plan is right
for your child!