The Wrightslaw Way

to Special Education Law and Advocacy

The Wrightslaw Way random header image

Can a Child with an IEP Fail?

by Wrightslaw

Does having an IEP guarantee my son will not fail?

The answer to this particular question is No. An IEP does not guarantee that a child will not fail.

If a child has a disability and needs special education services, the school and parents meet to develop an IEP.

The IEP is an educational plan that should be tailored to meet your child’s unique needs. The program, or plan, describes what a child needs to enable him to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum.

The IEP does not guarantee that your child won’t fail, although it is unusual for a child with an IEP to fail.

On the flipside of this, a different question.

The school is denying my child services under Section 504 because he is not failing.  Does a student have to be failing to get a 504 plan or an IEP?

The answer to this question is No.  A child does not have to be failing to qualify for services under Section 504 or IDEA. The law does not mention “failing” as a criteria for services under Section 504 or IDEA.

If a child has a disability that limits a major life activity (such as reading and learning), he or she should be eligible for 504 protections.

Recently, the ADA was amended and renamed ADAAA. Section 504 was amended so that it incorporates the ADAAA and applies to public school students under Section 504. See

Take a look at the articles and resources on this page:

Your Challenge

If you have a child that is not failing but needs services, the law is on your side.  But that is not enough. You need to be a salesman and portray your child and his situation so school people want to help. This is your challenge.

Read our “Letter to the Stranger” article to see how a parent changed
their message, and in doing so, got her son the help he needed:

Print Friendly

Tags:   · · · · · · 30 Comments

Leave a Reply

30 Comments on "Can a Child with an IEP Fail?"

Notify of

11/11/2015 8:19 pm

I have a student 8th grade with an IEP that I cannot get motivated in class. She is failing 3 required classes, is a half a semester behind in 6th grade L/A and a full year behind in 7th grade Science. I have tried everything. I know the reason behind this is because she doesn’t think she is capable of passing but she is. When she does work, it is quality work. However when she is given a test she shuts down and guesses on every answer. I remind her that her accommodations allow… Read more »

10/26/2015 12:41 pm

If u have a iep do u have to pass the OTG

09/08/2015 12:26 am

If you have an IEP does it matter if u pass the OGT????

07/20/2015 4:34 am


I just recently got my son IEP to revoke, he has a IEP since fourth grade. I don’t think it was helping him I did not see any improvement until I stated get tutorial lessons for him. I will continue to let him get tutoring help I think his IEP was holding him back then helping him.

05/17/2015 8:46 pm

My child failed and she has iep and she is doing her best to get her grade up but cant. she is in 7th grade. she came home crying because she failed. It is making me upset too and now she is getting made fun of. Now that she is failing she is threatening to kill herself.

11/11/2015 8:22 pm

Ask for a re-evaluation. She made need to have her IEP adjusted if she isn’t meeting her goals. I am having an issue with one of my students not working in class and is failing. I am a Support Facilitator and we are limited in what we can try. Parents have more power in getting the answers. Ask for advocate to get involved!

11/04/2015 1:07 am

my son is failing all his classes but one that is his special education class. he has a IEP also

04/28/2015 5:00 pm

My son has been on an IEP since 1st grade. When he attended school on the low side of town, same district he received massive help. However, when we moved to an upper scale school same district, he was held back in the 4th. He attended summer school and did not pass. They said there was no appeal. In the second 4th grade year he barely passed..struggling the entire year! It did not matter if he passed or fail, because you cannot be held back in the same grade twice. My son is on a IEP for learning, medical, and… Read more »

11/02/2015 7:50 pm

hi, what online school does he attend?

03/03/2015 1:16 am

can a IEP student get held back in the 12th grade ?

05/17/2015 8:47 pm

yes he could

02/13/2015 3:03 pm

Son (7th grade-Texas public) just moved to new ISD. Sons has been classified 504 since 5th; ADHD. Very little help in 6th grade at old ISD. When we moved we brought 504 paperwork to get him into a program here. He has had very little accommodations here and is very discouraged because of low grades. Not sure how to handle the new ISD and the program (lack of) that this school is providing.

08/20/2014 2:37 pm

I need an attorney. Both my boys are on IEP and modifications and school is not helping them, refuses to modify work. Was on 504 but this school doesn’t do 504 I guess. Help.

06/28/2014 7:33 am

My child is not performing as he expected at school. He is frustrated because he is studying and as parent we help him. But when is getting the results he get disappointed.i’m worried now he is getting stressed. He is taking consecta for concentration. In maths and english is struggling is getting level 2 and 3. Is Educational video can help my son because the psychologist said the IQ is fine the problem is concentration confidence self esteem now when is writing exam is having that feeling of not doing a right thing. Please help me this thing… Read more »

05/19/2014 6:47 pm

Because my son is under 504 and have IEP he has been eluded from certain academic programs like A honor roll or scholarships. According to his teachers he has straight A’s and a perfect score on his Starr tests. Yet my son cannot read easy reader books design for 1st grade;he is in the third grade(life skills) .I found that puzzling.My question is can a child with a disability not learn or be handicapped because it’s easily to give them the answers rather than teach them as the general education children? Im outrage

03/03/2014 10:41 am

So if my son has a iep he can’t fail right ?

Sharon L.
02/19/2013 9:20 pm

Try not to let them keep your daughter back anymore. Technically a child should not fail on an IEP. THe IEP sounds like it is not written for her success & you should immediately get a meeting together with the school to correct this problem. IEP meetings can be requested any time there is need & I believe this qualifies. Do you have anyone you could go over the IEP with (friends, physician, teacher, psychologist) so you can see what some of the issues may be. Check on-line or at the library for “How to write… Read more »

02/13/2013 11:32 am

My 9 year old child has a IEP, and she has already failed once, she was held back in the kindergarden and now she is in the third grade threaten that she may be held back again. Is this even legal? My child is already the biggest one in her class. Does the No child left behind help this situation at all. I do not think this will be healthy for her, if this happens she will be 13 in the 5th grade this is crazy Please help

01/25/2013 1:55 am

My son has an IEP. dx Lukemia and in remission going on 4 years. He missed first grade year and repeated it due to the lack of fundamentals. 2nd grade was average passed with satisfaction. At that time only a 504 was in place. 3rd grade dealing with my sons health in which was his last year of treatment . Horrible year teacher said he’s fine doing well. Until the last month. Your son is noT Making the bench marks.. 4th grade now, IEP in place, nice teacher, don’t worry give it time. OK.. he’s going be fine. 41/2… Read more »

01/16/2013 11:54 am

i have an 8th grade student with an IQ of 60 whose mother refuses to put him in the correct placement to recieve services. He is currently in an 8th grade math class and is unable to pass the class since he is functioning at a second grade math skill. His mother is under the impression that he cannot fail the class because of his IEP. Modifications and accomodations have been made for the student in the class to help, but the information is way above his head. Help!

01/09/2013 4:30 pm

If My Child had An IEP would she be able to receive help on her o.g.t or would she have to score an certain score ?

02/24/2012 8:20 am

Michelle, As a parent, I know that grades are only one measure of progress. I also look the hard data–such as assessments, DRP, DRA, etc. I look at what my child is bringing home for homework, etc. I ask my child a lot of questions. The principal may think that such ok. But, it sends a message to the studetns and their parents that they are making progress–when they are not. One large school district recently did a training about about “progress monitoring.” A clear point was made that “grades” are not a… Read more »

02/12/2012 10:31 am

My son has an IEP in Language. He has needed help in math for several weeks now. They want me to take him to a Doctor and have him to sign a paper to say he has ADD/ADHD to get help. He has a learning disability. Does he Have to have ADD/ADHd to get math help?

10/22/2011 1:04 pm

I am a teacher and have recently been instructed by the principal to give passing marks to all students receiving special education services.

Our students generally benefit from the modifications we implement, and generally receive passing grades. However, we are at the high school level, and sometimes students with IEPs or 504 plans do receive failing grades on their own merit. I feel it would be discrimination to pass these particular students (and sends them a poor message). Can you direct me to the specific law that outlines why it is not illegal to fail students receiving special services? Thanks!

05/02/2011 6:59 am

My 12 year old son has an IEP. He has been struggling with grades. He has been trying to make up work. He went to math class and was finishing up a final paper on language arts. Math teacher said it was time for math – he was sent to office. Then was asked to sign a contract stating that he be on time for call, carry a 70% or above and refrain from disrupting the class. If not, he will be removed from that school, or referred to juvenile courts. He is not a problem child.. no fighting… Read more »

04/02/2010 11:13 am

I don’t need an IEP. Is It anyone out there that can help me to get out of this. This IEP made me not get accepted to High School I would like to go to. I should have been of this years ago. I don’t won’t to go to a public school for my life and not even a year.I know whats best for me.

02/10/2010 6:54 pm

Help! We just had an IEP facilitated meeting with a goal to redo an FBA with a new IEP/BIP because we could not agree on the current one. Meeting went wonderfully on Feb 8 but I received a letter from Principal of Early College High School (who was at the meeting) on Feb 9 stating child is on probation and will return to base HS if she gets one more disciplinary warning or action. Was not brought up at meeting complete surprise. I believe this is retaliation for the facilitated meeting. She has targeted the… Read more »

02/10/2010 4:28 am

Myson is in the 8thgrade. I pulled him out of the school that the IEP team decided would be the best place for him. He has been passed with Fs in 6,7, along with AIMS scores falling in subject areas, Math the worst. The teacher of the class refused to recognize and accommodate his Bipolar ODD medicine effects , and used negative reinforcement over and over again. I called for a meeting ; she would lie and say she would make schedule adjustments and not follow through, and did not ever follow the 17 steps made… Read more »

02/02/2010 10:16 am

As an Advocate for 28 years I have helped parents develop a “Draft” IEP and BMP for the IEP team. We go through the whole IEP they have from the IEP team and then “Draft” the new IEP the child or teen should have, with the parents, so they know exactly what they are filling out and the reasons why. We send it in ahead of time with all documentation attached. I would encourage all advocates to do the same for it gives the parents the power and knowledge of what is going on and why.

01/25/2010 10:43 am

My child was under the 504 a few years back but is not under it now. He is ADHD and has a very hard time with organization and remembering to turn in his assignments. In the past he was reminded to turn them in or finish them. When he moved up to 7th grade last school year we had him take all of his books and papers to every class. This year alone he has over 40 0’s for not turning in work on time and 23 F’s for turning them in late. I have… Read more »