Individualized Education Plan

The Difference Between IEPs and 504 Plans

Both Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and 504 plans can offer formal help for K–12 students with learning and attention issues. They’re similar in some ways but quite different in others. This chart compares them side-by-side to help you understand the differences.

Parents and IEP (Individualized Education Plan) Meetings

Ensuring that your son or daughter makes a successful transition is not a “one-sided” venture. It requires cooperation and commitment on the part of both PARENTS and PROFESSIONALS!!!   It cannot be achieved by either party without the assistance of the other.  For this reason, the primary responsibility for you is to BE INVOLVED and to help provide the experiences for your child to learn new skills.

You represent your child as no one else can.

You know your child better than anyone.
You have lived with him/her longer than anyone else.
You and your child also have the most to gain or lose
by successful or unsuccessful transition from school to work

Because you possess this vast knowledge about your child, you also have the responsibility to provide this information to the professionals working with him/her. The most common vehicle used to share information and plan for the future is an Individualized Education Plan, or “IEP” as it is called. At the IEP meeting which is held annually, information should be shared about your child’s progress in previously developed goals, and new goals should be set.

Student-directed IEPs

Helping your child to take responsibility for his/her own IEP and decision making is very empowering. Seeing your child understand what he/she needs to be successful in school, community activities, work, etc. is very rewarding, but also is a key first step to helping him/her be ready for adult life.

There are many great resources to help parents and educators learn to take a backseat role to students in the IEP planning process. Here are a few:

~ Article: First Steps to Student-directed IEPs

What is My Role as a Parent in the Transition Process?

To Provide Unique Information
Parents are the lifetime members of the IEP team. We know many things about our son or daughter’s strengths and needs that are never reflected in the school or agency’s record. Parents know personal traits, interests, aptitudes, and behaviors related to success on the job. We know what motivates, upsets, and keeps the young person’s attention. We accommodate the needs of our son or daughter at home. Such expertise is extremely valuable.

To Be A Role Model
Parents are the first person a child sees as a role model. When parents send the message: “There is a world of work out there and you are going to be part of it,” they boost their young person’s self-image and encourage their interest in work. Helping young people develop appropriate work behavior also promotes positive attitudes toward work.

To Monitor
No matter how much planning and preparation occurs these plans are not always followed through on. We may find ourselves suggesting, reminding, and overseeing activities within the transition process. Parents must take on the responsibility to make sure every aspect of the transition plan is met and that nothing falls through the cracks. We can’t give up.

To Promote Independence and Self-Advocacy
In the beginning everyone needs someone to help manage his or her life.  It is always easier to sit back and let others make decisions for us. It is crucial that parents push their son or daughter into the role of the decision-maker whenever possible. Some families will need to explore guardianship.

Who Attends The IEP For Transition Planning

The school will be represented on the IEP team by your young adult’s classroom teacher, and/or special education teacher, related services staff such as speech therapists or physical therapists, and possibly a member of the administration. Other school staff who know your child well may attend also. Usually your child’s teacher will schedule, arrange, and chair the meeting.

Parents should invite individuals from other agencies working with the young adult and/or family. This becomes more important when students begin transition planning at age 16. Such individuals could include Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors, Case Managers, Social Workers, 504 Project Case Manager, etc.

You may invite a friend, a relative, a member of a support group, or anyone else who has been helpful and has important information to give to the team as they create a long range plan. You should invite anyone to the IEP who you feel can help. Be sure to let the teacher know so they have enough room for everyone.

If your young adult has been working, you may ask his/her employer to attend the IEP meeting.  Even if the present job will not continue after graduation, the employer can help the team examine your child’s job skills and can help plan for a more permanent job after high school.

The school district (with parental permission) or the parents should invite members from other adult service agencies to attend the IEP for students with specific needs. These may be agencies offering services in recreation, transportation, employment,or supported living arrangements if appropriate. In the last year of high school the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor should also be invited to participate in the IEP

The Special Education teacher should invite anyone who can help make your child’s plan successful. Remember- if you have someone you want to invite, you have a right to do so. Let your child’s teacher know whom you wish to invite.

Transition IEP Meeting Agenda

Your meeting may include the following:

  • Welcome/lntroductions
  • Parental rights reviewed
  • Student transfer of rights reviewed (by age 17)
  • Discuss and identify the student’s post school goals and preferences and interests in the following areas:
    • Training
    • Education
    • Employment
    • Independent Living Skills
  • Discuss the student’s present level of educational performance in each of the areas above.


  • Where the student is functioning in relation to where he or she wants to go and what they want to do beyond school.
  • Use Transition Planning Assessments to identify the student’s strengths as well as relevant deficits and weaknesses.

Design a Course of Study that:

  • Is a long-range educational plan or multi-year description of the educational program with flexibility to change every year;
  • Is meaningful to the student’s future and will motivate him/her to complete school; AND
  • Directly relates to the student’s anticipated post-school goals and the student’s preferences and interests.

Design a coordinated set of strategies/action plans that:

  • Includes interagency linkages and responsibilities;
  • Identifies agencies that will provide or pay for services;
  • Relates to student’s anticipated post-school goals; AND
  • Promotes movement on school to post school goals.

Develop Goals – Objectives/benchmarks are required

If you have questions or concerns, SPEAK UP!!