Students who have a hard time at school may benefit from programs designed to help meet their educational needs or learning styles.
These programs were created by federal laws and are available to eligible students at public schools. The most common offered are 504 plans, Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), and Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBAs).
Different Types of Help
Eligible students may receive educational assistance programs such as:
- 504 plans: May be available to students whose health conditions interfere with their educational functioning. Examples of health conditions include ADHD, anxiety disorders, asthma, cancer, or diabetes. Students will need documentation from their medical provider stating their diagnosis to be considered for a 504 plan. If eligible, students can receive extra help (called accommodations) that can help them meet school expectations. Ideas for accommodations include preferred classroom seating, the opportunity to take a test in a place free of distractions or brief breaks.
- Individualized Education Plans (IEPs): A plan that includes more intensive interventions for children with significant academic, behavioral, emotional, and/or medical challenges that are impacting their educational performance. A school-based psychoeducational evaluation will need to be completed to determine if a child qualifies for an IEP. This evaluation may include parent and teacher interviews, classroom observations, standardized testing, and the completion of rating scales. Schools may also consider diagnoses documented by medical doctors or outside psychologists. These educational supports can be provided in the child’s classroom or in a different location at the school. Examples of supports include small group instruction to practice reading, writing, or math, individual behavioral counseling, speech or occupational therapy, and transportation services.
- FBAs: Students with complex behavioral concerns may benefit from a comprehensive behavioral assessment. These assessments are completed by a qualified staff member, usually the school psychologist, to determine what is triggering and maintaining the behavior. After the assessment, the family and school team will work together to discuss appropriate educational supports that will help increase appropriate behaviors.
How the Plans Work with Different Kinds of Schools
These programs align with federal laws that grant children with disabilities access to services to help them be successful in public schools. Private schools are not required to follow federal procedures for a 504 plan or IEP. However, some private schools offer their own version of services.
Parents of children who are homeschooled may request psychoeducational testing and should collaborate with their local school district to determine supports.
Regardless of a child’s placement, if a student is having a hard time with their schooling, it is important for families to mention these concerns with the school and work together to create a plan for success.
How to Request Psychoeducational Testing
If you believe that your child is performing below expectations and would benefit from additional school supports, you can request a psychoeducational evaluation to determine if they are eligible for services. Along with the letter, you can share any documentation of existing relevant diagnoses your child may already have.
Download the letter, fill it out and send it to your child’s teacher or school administrator. Don’t forget to keep a copy for your records!