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Is Your PLOP a Flop?

by Wrightslaw

What a great line – from Special Ed e-News at the Special Ed Connection.

e-News advises that in the panic to write the IEP, cover all the necessary goals, objectives, benchmarks (if applicable), and figure out how to accurately measure progress, the PLOP (present levels of performance) often gets neglected.

If you are into acronyms, the PLOP is known now as the PLAAFP. The Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance provide baseline information about your child’s knowledge and skills. Present levels are the starting point for setting IEP goals and measuring progress toward these goals.

Here’s what IDEA 2004 says about the PLAAFP …

The IEP must include...“a statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance…including how the child’s disability affects the child’s involvement and progress in the general education curriculum;…” 20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(1)(A)

The term “performance” describes what your child can do. The present levels of academic achievement and functional performance in the IEP:

  • describe what your child knows and is able to do
  • describe your child’s unique needs that result from his disability
  • include your child’s strengths and the areas that are challenging

Before writing IEP goals for your child, you and other members of the IEP team need to know the measurable starting point for his knowledge or skill level. This is his present level of academic achievement.

Functional performance describes your child’s skills in daily living activities—social skills, mobility skills, employment skills, and skills that increase his independence.

Present levels (what your child can do) include baseline data from objective tests such as educational achievement tests.

How can you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you started?

If the present levels are accurate, current, comprehensive, and based on objective test data, you will be able to see your child’s needs clearly. You will know his strengths and weaknesses and able to write measurable goals that will address his needs.

Every IEP must include a statement of present levels of academic achievement and functional performance. 34 C.F.R. 300.320(a)(1). If the IEP fails to establish a baseline for setting annual goals and monitoring progress, the IEP may be found to deny FAPE.

In a 2009 decision against the City of Chicago School District, a hearing officer ordered the district to reimburse the parents for private school tuition and to pay for an addition year of private school in preparation of high school. In this case, the hearing officer found that due to the lack of this information in the IEP, the IEP was not capable of offering the student a FAPE. City of Chicago Sch. Dist. 299, 52 IDELR 177 (SEA IL, 2009).

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20 Comments on "Is Your PLOP a Flop?"


Anxiety can be so severe that it’s debilitating. Left untreated, chronic stress and anxiety can cause health problems.

A good psychologist talks to the patient and parents to get a good history (individual and family) plus provides rating scales to assess for signs of various psychological and emotional issues. The psychologist then guides you about how to proceed. Options may include therapy, teaching coping or communication skills, medication…Objective measures may include high blood pressure readings without evidence of a medical prob., high heart rate readings. Subjective observations: the parents or teachers may notice muscle tension which can cause headaches, backaches & jaw pain, stomache aches from increased acid producation which can cause ulcers. Inability to think clearly. Avoiding situations that provoke symptoms.


Last year, our son’s teacher cut and pasted almost his entire PLOP from the previous year’s IEP. We were shocked. We didn’t sign the IEP, and requested that new data/information be gathered and reported, by that teacher’s replacement. That generated new goals that were more suited to our son’s skills.


During my daughter’s last IEP annual review the special ed. director skipped reviewing the PLOAAFP. but new IEP goals were placed in the new IEP. Is my daughter’s IEP appropriate? is she receiving FAPE?


If a child is eligible as SLD in math and reading, but after a year of special education services and instruction, no longer needs direct services in math, does the IEP have to include a PLAAFT in both reading and math since the last evaluation showed eligibility in those two areas?


I have been told by my district not to include test data and other scores in the PLAAFP because parents would be confused. So we write about what the student is “good” at or likes to do outside of school or not related to academics. In another state, our PLAAFP were data driven v/ supported and everyone knew where the student was academically. Their strengths were identified and their deficits were clearly addressed.