Is Your PLOP a Flop?

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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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From Wrightslaw….

Back to School on Present Levels
All About IEPs: Present Levels Checklist
Present Levels: Foundation of the IEP
What is a PLAAFP?
Where Does the IEP Team Get Information for Present Levels?

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. The school wants to have IEP goals that are skills that our son has already attained. I brought in video demonstrating that he was already doing the skills they wanted to put down as goals (obviously so they’d have “attainable” goals, and then they said, “Well, we just think it’s wonderful that he’s demonstrating these skills in the home environment, but we just haven’t seen them at school yet. The skill needs to be generalized (I find that intriguing, since he’s managed to generalize the skills everywhere else — private therapy, church, camp, etc.) So, basically, if we go with the goals they have for our son, he wouldn’t make any progress at all in the coming year. How to fight this?

  7. What to do when a child with pdd is denied iep and 504? School has him stuck in rti. Says he has a disability but does not need “specialized instruction?” Have to keep him out of school once a week for private ot, because sensory needs not addressed.Gets hbts at home and ssi. Behavior and social skills greatly impaired. What to do?

  8. Regarding PLOP:
    When a students’ score on an assessment is “proficient”, but special accomodations were implemented, how to mark the section “exceptional”.. yes or no.? the score is not exceptional, but by having special accomodations, that in itself is exceptional. Could a narrative include this info?


    Is there any kind of testing for functional performance. My son has severe anxiety, due to traumatic school events, and has not been able to return to school. School is aware of this, but we’ve not been able to reach an agreement as to how to handle it. We think the school feels the anxiety is fake. Can testing be done?

  10. I did not sign our IEP because they set my 3rd graders goals for state standards for end of 3rd grade. I just won against the school for services and now need to write a new IEP. he is reading at a 1st grade level. Should the goals be written at an attainable level? For instance if he is reading at a 1.6 level now the goal should be a 2.6 by the end of the year? or something to that effect. The same concern for math. Am I understanding this right? or do you use state standards? Please advise. The goals are the hardest part to understand. I have the new IEP book and still feel unsure about this one question.

  11. What is the law on the school providing tutoring? We are about to pay out a lot o money for reading tutoring for our 3rd grader, because our shool that is ranked excellent with distinction has told us they don’t know how to help him. Shouldn’t they have to come up with proven methods that an be measured to help him? Any advice would be appreciated.

  12. Sun,

    Check out your districts policies on having outside observations or visits to the classroom. Some districts specifically address this issue in their policy. If they have no policy then I would point that out to them. In cases where parents have requested outside observers or therapists to come in for an evaluation, my district has generally complied but always co-observed or re-tested to verify any outside results. If the school will not allow you to have outside observers in addition to their own, do not sign the consent as you disagree with what they are doing for reeval. If necessary you may need to request an independent eval at public expense. Requesting BCBA certified personnel may be pushing it as there are competent observers without that cert e.g. school psychs etc.

  13. Frances,

    Your input has to be taken into consideration for the IEP, if your information is not in the PLOP you should be sure it is at least noted in the parental educational concerns/input or in the documentation of evaluation results (e.g. functional performance for behavior, and outside diagnosis under health). Any outside medical conditions should also be noted under and health sections in the IEP. As a school psychologist I mainly address parent info in those sections. At times the info is useful in the PLOP, but often given the academic nature of some goals home info may not be relevant. I would certainly pursue it with your school if home behavior information is ignored in functional goals.

  14. In our school district, the handbook for Psychologists, located on the district web site clearly states that schools should not give parents the permision to evaluate form until the hearing and vision screening.

    Parents can request in writing that specific tests be done. ie if a prerent suspects tha their child has AS, they can request in writing that the school do the ADOS. To expedite the testing process, the written request could include permission to administer the test and include the date of the written reqeust.

    If the child does not qualify as a child with Autism, the parents can use an independent eval to request that the child be served under the classification of OHI (Other Health Impared)..

    Regardless of classification the IEP needs to include specific goals and specific timelines based on current performance levels.

  15. We are drowning in blame and really need some help! Our kid has reading, writing, and math disabilities. We have a lovely IEP…on paper! The school keeps doing things that aren’t really revising it, but for example, having a para provide services instead of a special educator. Our kid gets frustrated when things aren’t understood and sometimes refuses to work due to not understanding the material. The school SAYS they are providing services, but the services don’t meet out kid’s needs. We are stuck in a stalemate “he said, she said” between the school saying they are doing things (even they aren’t the things that are needed for success) and us saying the services aren’t working. They keep blaming Kiddo for “not trying, refusing to work, being rude.” We have an advocate but need more help NOW!

    • Lisa-

      The PLOP – PLEP – is now the PLAAFP.

      IDEA 2004 – 20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(1)(A)

      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;…”

        • Shannon – I hope you’re keeping up with the Summer School 2017 series. One of the homework assignments this summer will require parents to develop and submit Present Levels (PLAAFP) for their child as part of developing the IEP. Stay tuned. We’ll share and post any really good samples we receive. Thanks for participating.

  16. If you disagree with their re-evaluation, you can always request an IEE (independent educational evaluation). It is a right guaranteed by IDEA. You simply write and tell them you disagree with their evaluations and that you are requesting an IEE. If you search the wrightslaw site, you’ll find much more info on IEE’s.

  17. Hi,
    Who can observe my child at school for re-evaulation? Tried to change ASD kid’s criteria from DD to autism at school. During the reevaluation process, in order to be fair, I requested if I could use some of my people to observe my kid. Minimum 3 20 minutes observations were required, they said. They declined my request to use my friends due to the reason that they are not educators. meanwhile, when i asked them to use the 3rd party company with BCBA certified, the school said no again. They said it was just observation; what they see what they write down.

    Please advise

    Is there a police to use educators only for observations?

    What is a parent to do to get a good PLOP? How can this objective be achieved if they aren’t mandated to include private testing and results? How can a PLOP be accurate if the school won’t include parent observations and medical diagnosis to get a complete picture of the student? Even if they don’t use this diagnosis as reason to qualify the child ,shouldn’t they be required to document this information? Especially if they are using this information to provide accommodations and modifications?

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