Accommodation answers

The Ins and Outs of a 504 Plan

by Chloe Brockway-Langehaug, Staff

When it comes to learning accommodations, it can be  tricky to know where to start. A 504 plan, named after Section 504 of a 1973 law, consists of adjustments for students who might need such things like extra time or breaks on tests and assignments, or during classes. Even though this seems pretty straightforward, some students say there are challenges when it comes to getting a 504 plan. 

Counselor Josh McCorkle says you may consider starting the 504 plan process if you have tried other options first. You may consider this, according to McCorkle, “if you have already visited teachers in SAS, tried out peer tutoring or made other changes and those are still not helping.” McCorkle said it’s important to identify factors that may require you to have a 504 plan and then seek resources to help. 

To get a 504 plan you must have a note from your doctor that indicates an accommodation may be necessary due to a medical diagnosis. Then you talk to your counselor about putting one into action. This is important if you need extra time and support from teachers in your classes.

Schneider, senior, has had a 504 plan since elementary school but didn’t know about it until his sophomore year. “When you are in high school you have to advocate for yourself more, because when you are in elementary school your parents are the ones that do it,” Schneider said. 

It may be tough for students to know what learning style is right for them, or even what access they have to different learning options. Ash Hjelle, senior, similar to Schneider, also had a 504 plan in elementary school but a different experience in high school. “I started mine in fifth grade, and I had to ask to get my accommodations, and I still wouldn’t get them sometimes. There are no clear rules or guidelines for teachers to follow. It’s a very flawed system,” they said. Hjelle has had these same difficulties in high school and has expressed interest in learning a better way to communicate with their teachers. 

McCorkle explained how best to approach your teacher if you don’t think your 504 is being put in place correctly. “When something doesn’t go to plan, create one-to-one communication with that teacher [about your 504 plan]. If that is a challenge, ask counselors to join in those conversations,” McCorkle said.