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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:

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20 responses so far ↓

  • 1 joe 03/03/15 at 1:16 am

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

  • 2 Sean 02/13/15 at 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.

  • 3 christy 08/20/14 at 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.

  • 4 Cynthia 06/28/14 at 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 is killing us. Thank you Cynthia.

  • 5 Kimberly 05/19/14 at 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

  • 6 Jhoan 03/03/14 at 10:41 am

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

  • 7 Sharon L. 02/19/13 at 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 an IEP”. Check with local support groups. Read books from places like “Wrightslaw”, LDA, etc. Knowledge is power & can help you in this case. Many children who get held back end up quitting school when they become legal age & the school must tell them their rights at 18.

  • 8 Diannah 02/13/13 at 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

  • 9 Christina 01/25/13 at 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 months later…. Sorry but he’s failing.. Mom is not happy. So IEP meeting coming up this week. And I’m fuming

  • 10 Angela 01/16/13 at 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!

  • 11 benickwa 01/09/13 at 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 ?

  • 12 Morning 02/24/12 at 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 good measure but hard data is the measure. Guess what, the district has over 11,000 students and only 7 parents attended the workshop. The ones who attended left with a strong knowledge base. Parents must have the knowledge to “walk the talk and talk the walk.”

  • 13 Cynthia 02/12/12 at 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?

  • 14 Michelle 10/22/11 at 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!

  • 15 vickey 05/02/11 at 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 or bad language teachers say he is sweet. Please advise?

  • 16 C>L 04/02/10 at 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.

  • 17 Jeanne 02/10/10 at 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 child that I am almost afraid to send her to school. Was recourse do I have?

  • 18 JoAnn 02/10/10 at 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 in his behavior mod plan. Within 9min first hour my son was Kicked of the soccer team and had a out of class referral and was physical pulled into ISS by two teachers, while waiting for me to come and get him. No documentation of the incident was done. I homeschool him at 6th grade level, will he be able to start 9th grade next year?

  • 19 Rose 02/02/10 at 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.

  • 20 Jeanette 01/25/10 at 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 asked for help and asked for help to solve this matter. They keep saying that he is not entitled to services under 504. That he does not have enough of a problem to put him under 504. What else do I do? I have been to the special needs teacher the principle and even to the superintendent trying to get help. His brain does not work like ours does so he forgets to turn in assignments.