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


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.


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 mental disabilities. When I took my son out of school during the last semester of 5th grade the CPS was called saying there was no medical evidence behind his behavior at school…no violence, just other things. I had a folder of all interaction from doctors to schools etc…so the case was dropped. My son attends online school. He is doing awesome now. He still is behind a bit, be but the grades, improvement, and his love for school has increases.


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


yes he could


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.


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.