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Does Online School Work for Students with IEPs or 504 Plans?

Does Online School Work for Students with IEPs or 504 Plans?

Monday, May 01, 2023

Learning in the traditional classroom setting can be challenging for students with a barrier to learning or a medical diagnosis that might impact their education. For these students who qualify for IEPs and 504, the educational hurdles of the primary and secondary years can fill parents with doubt and guilt surrounding their schooling. 

Parents of children with accommodations often wonder if their child could be even more successful with an online program. The answer is simple. Yes, yes, they can. Understanding the difference between an IEP and 504 when considering online learning is paramount. The differences can be a little confusing as they are subtly similar.  

IEP v. 504 Plans

An IEP is a student-specific Individualized Education Plan based on a disability or medical need. An IEP must be designed for one student and is a truly individualized document stemming from a pool of input from multiple sources.

A 504, although also student-specific, The 504 Plan is a plan developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives accommodations that will ensure their academic success and access to the learning environment.

In 2021, approximately 15% of students in the US qualified for special education services. Following the pandemic era of online learning, many IEP and 504 parents found themselves pondering their student’s unexpected academic successes not previously seen in their brick-and-mortar settings.  

The reasoning behind many of the surprise victories can easily be related back to the interventions IEPs and 504s direct us to follow online versus in the school building. 

Common Modifications Made in School v. Online

Some of the more common modifications seen on educational plans may include testing in a separate room, extended time for testing or assignment completion, scheduled breaks when testing, tests to be read aloud by computer, students to read tests aloud to themselves, or even snacks as needed while working.  

Regarding testing in a separate room or extended time for completion of tasks, many students feel the eyes of the room are all on them as they are required to make what they feel is a grand exodus from the classroom in order for their accommodations to be met. Granted, the accommodations are 100% confidential, right?

Ask twenty-seven middle schoolers why your child just left the room at the beginning of the test. One will soon realize how confidential accommodations are in the public school setting.  

In terms of scheduled breaks when testing, compare or contrast, if you will, the substance of what a break could really mean. While in the schoolhouse, the break may mean the student is allowed to stand beside their desk, use the restroom, stretch, or even put their head down on their desk…all while being totally silent. 

With an e-program, a break may mean walking the family pet, a walk on the patio for a breath of fresh air, a moment of sidewalk chalk fun, a quick chat with a parent, or even a much-needed restroom reprieve. 

Concerning having the computer read aloud test questions to your student, it’s kind of like sitting beside the guy with headphones in the airport who has no idea you can hear his music louder than your own. Everyone in close proximity can hear the read-aloud questions, no matter how discrete the process seems to be

When it comes to reading the questions aloud to themselves, students not only deal with being put on the spot while leaving the room, but they also deal with someone walking by or sitting within an ear’s shot of hearing them read questions out loud that others may find elementary. 

Reading to yourself in the comfortable silence of your bedroom, home office, or den while not having to worry about your peers thinking you are talking to yourself may be more conducive to student success than school solitary for the “out-louders.” 

In terms of those who need to eat or drink during assignments or testing, whether it be for a medical diagnosis or not, get insecure with every gulp of water they take or bite of a cracker they crunch, while those surrounding them give the glare of disruption. Again, all this is private, right?  

So Does Online School Work for Students with IEPs or 504 Plans?

Not only does online school work for students with IEPs and 504 plans, but online learning may even work better. Yes, online teachers and parents play a crucial role in ensuring the implementation of each accommodation; however, under the spotlight, online learning, along with positive parenting, seems to surpass the best the schoolhouse has to offer.

About Us

Ignite Learning Academy is an online private school created to address the unique learning needs of many children and families. Our students are able to structure their day to complete their schoolwork at a time that works for them, and they can accomplish this from any location with an internet connection!

The FIRE Academy, a program within Ignite Learning Academy, offers accredited education to children in grades K-12 with learning disabilities, autism, and other significant developmental delays who will thrive when working in a self-contained special education environment.

All curriculum used is specifically designed for students with developmental disabilities in order to teach academic, life, and social skills.

Students who have an IEP or 504 Plan or who have participated in special education services in the past will thrive at Ignite Learning Academy! Those with special learning needs, anxiety, OCD, or other mental illness will find Ignite Learning Academy to be a safe environment where they’re free to explore online learning on their own terms – with the 1+1+1 support of their parent/coach and teacher who passionately cares about the child’s success.

Our online learning model develops independent, inquiring minds and intellects. We commit to each child’s personalized learning so they can experience a safe social and emotional environment while gaining skills that prepare them for college and beyond. Just listen to what some parents have said about Ignite Learning Academy!

"Ignite is such a perfect fit for my children. They are allowed to work at their ability level while still being able to interact with peers. The combination ensures not only academic success but social success as well.” - S. Morgan

“For the first time since preschool, I finally feel like I have genuine help. I have a team that believes in and supports my son. A team that only wants the best for him. I finally feel like I can take a breath knowing I don't have to worry every day about his education. I now see what it's like to have a team who is willing to do whatever they can to best support him in school." -Holly, parent of child with special needs

Contact us today to learn more!