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Top 10 Items that Should Be Listed in an IEP

April 10, 2014 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

We all know how important it is to have an IEP that addresses our child’s Academic, Developmental and Functional needs; to ensure they are appropriately prepared for an independent future.  Therefore, as parents, we have to make sure our child’s IEP includes the necessary information to prepare them for life after high school.  The results of your child’s most recent assessments, report cards, state tests, school personnel and parent input will assist the team in developing an appropriate IEP. Read the rest of this entry →

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Ten Steps to Writing Effective IEP Goals

January 23, 2014 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) requires that all Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) include:

A statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals, designed to (a) meet the child’s needs that result from the child’s disability to enable the child to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum; and (b) meet each of the child’s other educational needs that result from the child’s disability. Read the rest of this entry →

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Parents need to be Open to the Appropriate Learning Environment

April 3, 2012 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

The end of the school year is approaching; therefore, many parents around the country are debating the placement issue for the next school year. It’s a very important decision because if it’s not the appropriate placement, your child could either fall behind or will not be challenged enough. As concerned parents, we hope that we’ve made the correct decision for our child. The question is; did we have all the necessary information to make an informed decision?

Once again, time to go back to the beginning. Assessments are an essential component of updating a child’s present levels of performance. The first thing required in any Individualized Education Program (IEP) is “a statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance.” If you look closely at the language there are actually two parts that need to be analyzed, “academic achievement” and “functional performance”. Since neither of these terms are defined this created questions that were discussed in the Federal Register page 46662:

Comment: A few commenters stated that § 300.320(a)(1) requires an IEP to include a statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement, and recommended that the regulations define ‘‘academic achievement.’’

Discussion: ‘‘Academic achievement’’ generally refers to a child’s performance in academic areas (e.g., reading or language arts, math, science, and history). We believe the definition could vary depending on a child’s circumstance or situation, and therefore, we do not believe a definition of ‘‘academic achievement’’ should be included in these regulations.

Comment: Some commenters recommended that the regulations clarify that not every child requires a functional performance statement or functional annual goals. Some commenters stated that requiring functional assessments for all children places an unnecessary burden on an LEA, does not add value for every child, and creates a potential for increased litigation. One commenter recommended that § 300.320(a)(1), regarding the child’s present levels of performance, and § 300.320(a)(2), regarding measurable annual goals, clarify that functional performance and functional goals should be included in a child’s IEP only if determined appropriate by the child’s IEP Team.

Discussion: We cannot make the changes requested by the commenters. Section 614(d)(1)(A)(i)(I) of the Act requires an IEP to include a statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance.

As you can see without updating both parts of the present levels of performances and knowing a child’s strengths and weaknesses, it’s impossible to make an informed decision about the appropriate placement. If you make a decision about placement before you have current data on your child, you might place your child in an environment that’s either too quick or slow paced.

For example, if your child is currently in a Special Day Class and you would like to begin mainstreaming them next year. I would recommend updating your child’s psycho-educational assessment to base your decision on. I mention this because sometimes report cards can be deceiving and do not tell the complete picture regarding a child’s true strengths and weaknesses. If a child is mainstreamed before they are ready, they can experience stress and anxiety if they cannot keep up and fall behind.

The other side of the coin is when a child is placed in an environment that might be considered too low-functioning. When this occurs, the child is not receiving an education that will allow them to work to their full potential. Many children who have a disability such as Autism, ADHD or SLD, are mainstreamed.

Once again, I stress the need to make sure all the necessary assessments have been performed prior to making a decision about your child’s placement. You cannot have a productive IEP meeting with your school district about the appropriate placement for your child until you have all the facts to base your decision on. The key is to keep an open mind about placement until that time so that you can place your child in the appropriate learning environment.

 

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Present Levels of Performance and Writing IEP Goals Tweet Chat

November 8, 2011 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

This morning I hosted my monthly tweet chat for the Coffee Klatch. The subject was Present Levels of Performance and writing IEP Goals. It was a great chat with input from parents and educators. We even ended up delving into the concept of Parent – Teacher Partnerships in Schools. Instead of writing about it, I have posted the transcript from the chat below. I think I might have missed some comments but recreated it as best I could. Although my twitter handle is @SpecialEdAdvice I was driving the ship below as @TheCoffeeKlatch. I hope you enjoy reading the transcript as much as I enjoyed hosting the tweet chat. Read the rest of this entry →

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All About the IEP

October 3, 2011 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Think you know all you need to know about your child’s IEP – or that her teacher does? Maybe not!

Too often we fall into the bad habit of “trusting the process” without making sure that we understand the process. School districts develop forms, checklists, and procedures and we don’t always feel comfortable asking why we’re doing what we’re doing.

Why does it matter? The IEP should identify your child’s strengths and needs so the IEP team can put together a group of supports to enable your child to be more successful in school. The wrong supports can result in a lack of progress, or unruly behavior due to frustration. Be prepared with information from The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY). Read the rest of this entry →

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The Art of Asking Questions at an IEP

June 23, 2011 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

It has been said, “You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions” (Naguib Mahfouz, Nobel Prize Winner for Literature).  These are words to live by and my wife, Dennise, and I have found that asking questions in an IEP meeting is a very effective strategy for advocating for your child.  Yesterday, Dennise wrote in her blog, “Needs Drive Goals and Goals Drive Services in an IEP”;

….. if you think your child needs additional services always remember to start at the beginning.  First, update your child’s present level of performance.  Next, write multiple goals for every area of need including all of the components.  Lastly, use the present levels of performance and goals to justify additional services.  If parents remember to work from beginning to end they should have a much more productive IEP meeting. Read the rest of this entry →

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Needs Drive Goals and Goals Drive Services in an IEP

June 22, 2011 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

As I reflect on the prior IEP season one common theme continues to jump out at me.  You can’t request additional services for your child if there isn’t a written goal that the service will help the child achieve.     This is crucial for parents to understand.  A well written IEP starts with an accurate Present Levels of Performance (PLOP) that outlines the child’s strengths and needs.  If additional assessments are necessary to accurately update the child’s PLOP then make sure the request is made with ample time for the assessments to be performed prior to the annual IEP date.  Once you have an accurate picture of the PLOP make sure you write a goal for every area of need.   You would be surprised how often goals are not written to address every need and parents will have a very hard time justifying additional services without a goal.  Read the rest of this entry →

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Top Ten Questions to Ask at an IEP

May 23, 2011 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Dennise Goldberg

If your child has an IEP, the following top ten list is comprised of generic questions that all parents should be asking.  This list is not specific to any disability or situation.

10.  How has the School updated the present levels of performance?

The Present Levels of Performance (PLOPs) are crucial to writing a successful IEP.  Since many IEP Teams only perform assessments every 3 years, for the triennial IEP, it’s important to understand how this section is being updated.  “This section forms the basis and justification for all goals and objectives. In turn, the goals and objectives form the basis for all services and placements.” Read the rest of this entry →

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What a good IEP looks like

March 2, 2011 in Special Education Articles by Doug Goldberg

I set out to write a post on “what a good IEP looks like” at the request of the brilliant Larry Ferlazzo when the great KIPP debate (one and two) burst out. But as in any “real” learning, I’m glad I was interrupted, because I learned a great deal during that conversation, and that conversation altered what I am writing now.

The “Individualized Education Program [Plan],” is the central “paperwork” component of American “Special Education” – and, in other forms, not uncommon in other nations. Unfortunately, it is typically (almost always) a deficit-model statement, listing all that is “wrong” with the student – like a medical triage report that forgets to report that, say, your blood pressure is just fine – followed by a prescription list which ignores all side effects. Read the rest of this entry →

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IEP Goals And Objectives: Are These Any Good?

February 19, 2011 in Special Education Articles by Jess

To develop IEP goals (and, in some states and situations, objectives) that are meaningful, measurable, and manageable, requires a  preliminary step that too many IEP Teams rush though: Writing a quality Present Levels section (“present levels of academic achievement and functional performance”) of the IEP. This section forms the basis and justification for all goals and objectives. In turn, the goals and objectives form the basis for all services and placements.

Because goals and objectives are so critical to obtaining the services your child needs, and to monitoring his progress, it’s critical to understand the flaws that characterize so many goals and objectives. Below are some of my comments, slightly edited, from two brief evaluations I did of a third grader’s IEP. The name is fictionalized and I have the parent’s permission to use the materials. Read the rest of this entry →

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