Once a student is determined to have a disability for which accommodations are necessary, a 504 Plan is developed. Although Section 504 does not specify that a written plan be developed, the district must document activities and decisions made regarding students with disabilities. Furthermore, OCR policy letters indicate the desire for a written plan to document that appropriate educational accommodations and/or related services have been provided. As a result, most districts and other educational institutions develop written plans for their students with disabilities under Section 504 either in the form of a fairly simple accommodation plan or a health plan for students with health related needs.
Section 504 leaves districts to their own devices for determining the range of information that should be contained in an accommodation plan. However, best practice suggests that at a minimum an accommodation plan should address the educational impact of the identified disability and the necessary accommodations to facilitate access to education and other school activities in the least restrictive environment.
- In order to assure information is available from the family, best practice suggests that parents should be invited and encouraged to assist in developing the plan. Florida rules require school teams to meet to develop plans for addressing academic and behavioral difficulties prior to referrals for specialized service provision. Obtaining parent’s signature and date of receipt of their rights under Section 504 is one way of documenting parental participation in the process.
- Accommodations must be based on information and data used in the evaluation and eligibility determination process.
- Accommodations must address the student’s identified disability in order to provide equal opportunity/ access to activities available to the student’s non-disabled peers.
- The plan should indicate how, where, and by whom the accommodations will be provided.
- The plan may include accommodations for the school building or classroom, administrative adjustments, academic and instructional accommodations, and/or behavioral intervention and testing accommodations.
- In general, a student identified as having a disability under Section 504 should be provided the same types of accommodations for both classroom assignments and assessments. If a student needs additional time to complete assignments, he or she should also be allowed extended time for classroom tests and standardized tests. Accommodations for testing situations, both classroom and standardized assessments such as the FCAT, must be addressed when developing the accommodation plan and the testing accommodation specified in the written plan. Accommodations used with standardized tests must be consistent with what is specified in the test administration manual. Students with only a 504 accommodation plan are not eligible for an FCAT waiver for the purposes of meeting high school graduation requirements. Allowable testing modifications include
- Flexible scheduling
- Flexible setting
- Recording of answer
- Mechanical aids
- Indicate whether the plan is an initial plan, a revised plan, or continuation of an existing plan.
- Develop a monitoring system and assign responsibilities for implementation.
- Distribute copies of the plan to parents, teachers, and other appropriate individuals. Make sure a copy of the plan is placed in the student’s school record.
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MYTH: Every student on medication needs an accommodation plan.
MYTH: A student with AD/HD who is making B’s and C’s but could do better “but for” AD/HD should have an accommodation plan.
A school initiated arrangements for the specified modification to accommodate an eligible 504 student during an advanced placement examination. Subsequently, the testing agency notified the district that the specified accommodation (a cassette recording of the exam) was not available, but a reader could be used instead. The school’s AP coordinator failed to read the notice and did not make arrangements for a reader. The student failed to acquire a sufficient score to receive college credit for the AP course.
What do you think?
Did the district violate Section 504 by not providing alternative accommodations? (Click an answer below.)
The district attempted to provide the eligible student the required accommodations, therefore the district is not guilty of Section 504 violation.
A district has an obligation to provide testing accommodations. If those accommodations are not available, the district must provide alternative modification.
The district fulfilled its obligation to the student. The decision to not provide the accommodation was a decision made by the testing agency, so it discriminated against the student.
Next: Click to proceed to Common Errors in the Development/Implementation of a 504 Accommodation Plan.