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Get the Best 504 or IEP Plan Possible With This Handy Checklist

February 17, 2018


Chances are, if you're reading this, your child could benefit from some accommodations at school to help him or her perform better and be happier.


There are 3 levels of accommodations:

- Informal. These are the ones your teacher does without any prompting or requirement.

- 504 plan. These are agreed upon with the school and implementation is up to each teacher individually. The teacher is not legally required to do the accommodations and can change how they implement them at any time.

- IEP plan. These are formally agreed upon between the parents and the school and every teacher in the school is legally required to implement them and cannot change the implementation without written agreement from the parent.


The rule of thumb is that if your child needs accommodations, especially in middle and high school, get an IEP, if possible. With a 504 plan, you'll need to negotiate with each teacher individually and track their implementation separately - and start all over again every year. With an IEP plan, once it's in place, every teacher has to follow it automatically, year after year, unless you agree to a change in writing.


You guessed it, IEPs can be hard to get, especially if your kid is doing ok academically. But definitely try for one. It's worth it.


Whether you are doing an informal, 504, or IEP plan, what do you ask for?


Every kid's needs are different but here's a good starting list of ideas. Print out this list and bring it with you at your next meeting with the school. Add to it anything else you can think of that could help your child.

Accommodations Checklist


In the Classroom

  • Give preferential seating away from distractions and near positive role models

  • Careful partner matching for group projects

  • Ensure roles are clearly delineated for group tasks

  • Implement a reward system for attention (stickers, reading time, helper time)

  • Frequent check-ins to increase focus

  • Do not embarrass the child when prompting

  • Use a discreet gesture to tell the child to refocus their attention

  • Extra support for transitions and work initiation

  • Allow use of a wiggle seat, fidgets, and a stress ball

  • Assign tasks that allow for movement

  • Accept late work without penalty

  • Help with planning

  • Encourage the child to review and edit their work

  • Give responsibilities in the class that highlight his or her strengths (handing out work, managing the projector)

  • Write assignments on the board early in the day and check that the child has copied them down.

  • Provide visual aids where possible

  • Provide a clear rubric of expectations for assignments, outlines, and scaffolding.

  • Allow the child to photograph the board or use a scanning app

  • Email parents promptly if the child is falling behind

  • Individual pull-out support daily with a resource specialist or teacher with special education credentials, with a focus on task initiation, inattention, working memory, organization, time management, and test preparation. In this session, the child can organize assignments, take lecture notes, practice study skills, and finish unfinished work.

  • Provide teacher lecture notes, powerpoint presentations, and exam study guides

  • Review the child's planner on a daily basis to support assignment tracking

  • Allow extra time to complete in-class work and/or allow him to complete it at home

  • Provide digital versions or extra copies of all school books, including novels and textbooks for use at home

  • Allow online submission of assignments

  • Accept late work up to 2 weeks without penalty

  • Encourage the child to type all assignments with spell check and grammar check enabled

  • Give assistance with planning and editing writing assignments

  • Do not mark skipped items as incorrect. Give the child the opportunity to complete them

  • Give points for showing his work (eg. math problems)


  • Give 50% extended time on exams, tests, quizzes, and standardized tests to ensure the test his measuring the child's knowledge, not the rate at which they answer questions.

  • Use the extended time before the text, rather than after it

  • Give option to child to take the test in a small, quiet setting

  • Remind the child to read instructions thoroughly, work slowly and carefully, and check his work before submitting it

  • Prompt the child to write her name on every page

  • Prompt the child to complete any omitted sections

  • Allow the child to type all essay portions of tests instead of writing them


  • Help the child clean out their desk and backpack once a week to minimize distractions and reduce lost papers

  • Create separate binders and notebooks for completed work, homework, and projects


  • Teachers and parents should communicate frequently about the child's progress and stress level

  • Consider reducing number of assignments or length of assignments as long as the child can demonstrate mastery of the content (eg. do only every other problem)

Homework After-School

  • If the child is doing homework in an after-school setting away from home, ensure she has a quiet designated area to do the work, away from distractions

  • Provide support planning and organizing for larger projects and test preparation

  • Allow short, structured breaks throughout the homework period

  • Spend a set amount of time on homework, regardless of whether the work is completed or not

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