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 Home > Special Ed Advocate Newsletter Archives > 2020 > IEPs in the COVID-19 Era: Your Parental Role and Present Levels in IEPs (May 20, 2020)

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IEPs During the COVID-19 Era: Your Parental Role and Present Levels in IEPs
by Pam & Pete Wright

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couple holding up a chart in a digital IEP meeting

This is one of a series of newsletters about IEPs During the COVID-19 Era.

Parents, never forget why you are essential members of your child's IEP team. You are essential because your job is to represent your child's interests.

So you need to be an active member, not a spectator. Your goal is develop work with other members of the team to develop IEPs tailored to meet your child's unique needs.

The law does not say "IEP meetings must be held inside school buildings." Some parents and teachers are reporting positive experiences and progress in IEP meetings via Zoom and other digital technology.

< a href="">In this issue of The Special Ed Advocate, we ...

  • learn to use Present Levels in the IEP to create goals that meet your child's unique needs;
  • learn what the law says about Present Levels; and
  • download a Cool Tool - the Wrightslaw Present Levels Checklist.


1. Present Levels are the Foundation of the IEP by Pat Howey, paralegal and special ed advocate

As an advocate, I consult with parents. Most parents report concerns goals and placement.

When I review the child's recent Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), I find little or no useful information about the child's Present Levels of Academic Performance and Functional Performance.

If you are planning to build a house, you know the house needs a strong foundation. Present Levels are the foundation of a child's IEP. The IEP can only as strong as the foundation. If the Present Levels are weak, inaccurate or missing, it's impossible to create an IEP that has goals, a program and a placement that will meet a child's needs.

If the Present Levels are accurate, current, comprehensive, and based on objective observations and/or test data, you will be able to see your child's needs clearly and know what the school should provide.

Parents: You need to to learn how to develop accurate, up-to-date Present Levels. This isn't hard. We can help.

As a parent, developing your child's present levels is one of the easiest things you need to learn, because you know your child better than anyone else.

Read Present Levels: The Foundation of the IEP at least twice. We suggest you print the article so you can review it with a highlighter and make margin notes.

Refresh your memory before subsequent IEP meetings by reviewing the Present Levels article.
If you take these steps, you will feel more confident at your next IEP meeting.


2. Special Education Law: Present Levels are a Critical Part of the IEP

Under the IDEA, the IEP must include "a statement of the child's present levels of academic achievement and functional performance ..." 20 U.S.C. Sect. 1414 (d) (1) (A) (i). Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition p. 99.

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition

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3. Cool Tool! Wrightslaw Checklist: Present Levels in the IEP

The IEP is the "blueprint" the school must use for your child's special education.

The Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (sometimes called PLAAFP or PLOP) are the foundation of your child's IEP. Parents and teachers need to learn to develop and use accurate, up-to-date Present Levels in IEPs.

Cool Tool: Use the Present Levels Checklist

Great for Parent Groups: More Cool Tools from Wrightslaw: Pop-Ups, Checklists, Quizzes, Written Assignments and Polls


4. Special Education in the Coronavirus Era

Contingency Learning Plans: What? Why? How to Respond - A Contingency Learning Plan is the school district's (unilateral) offer of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for the rest of the 2019-20 school year. Contingency Learning Plans are IEPs that were amended by the district and presented as the district's "good faith effort" to provide a FAPE.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Good News from DC - No waivers to rights under the IDEA and Section 504; info about IEPs, IEP meetings, timelines and parent advocacy during the COVID-19 crisis.

COVID-19 Closed My Child's School: Is the School Required to Make Up Missed Services? Answers to your questions and help getting your child's special education back on track.

My Child's School Closed Suddenly and I Need Help - Resources to help your children learn at home and links to an excellent article, "Making the Most of COVID-19 School Closures.

Can IEP Meetings Be Postponed Until After Schools Re-Open? Article includes timelines from federal law for initial IEPs, annual IEPs, revising IEPs, online / remote IEP meetings.

More Advocacy Links

Write Things Down When They Happen - Good documentation is essential to your success at IEP meetings.

Protect Your Child's Interests: Create a Paper Trail - Use low-tech tools - journals, logs, calendars, and letters - to create a paper trail to document your contacts with the school and the special education your child receives during the school closure.

Created: 05/15/20
Revised: 00/00/00

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