HOW TO READ AN IEP:
The Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance is the section of the IEP that provides a snapshot of where your child is right now. If the IEP were a map, the Present Levels section would be a bold arrow declaring “You Are Here.” It’s the IEP team’s job to understand where “here” is.
The Present Levels section of the IEP will often have a lot of information coming from several sources. Collectively, this information should provide baseline data to understand your child’s strengths and weaknesses, to gauge their progress under their current education plan, and to make appropriate adjustments to the IEP and measurable annual goals. All of the needs identified by the IEP team in the Present Levels section must be addressed in subsequent sections of the IEP.
The standard Pennsylvania IEP divides this section into several portions:
1. Present levels of academic achievement: how the student is performing within the general education curriculum, including in reading, writing, and mathematics. At a minimum, this section should include a description of how the student is progressing within the general education curriculum in relation to their peers and state-approved grade level standards; current instructional levels; classroom strategies, interventions, or additional/alternative instructional materials applied and their results; and a description of how the student is progressing on any academic goals set in the previous IEP.
2. Present levels of functional achievement: how the student is performing in non-academic domains, including activities of daily living, social/emotional skills, and behavioral difficulties, including the results of any functional assessments, performance data, current skill levels, behavioral observations, and how the student is progressing on any functional goals set in the previous IEP.
3. Present levels related to current post-secondary transition goals: information about the transition-age (14 or younger, if appropriate, during this IEP) student’s needs, strengths, interests and preferences as they relate to post-secondary education, employment, and independent living based on age-appropriate transition assessment.
4. Parental concerns: documentation of the concerns articulated by the parent before, during, or after the IEP meeting. You are welcome to submit this section in writing to your case manager and request that it be included in the final IEP.
5. How the student’s disability affects involvement and progress in the general education curriculum: description of how the student accesses, is involved in, and makes progress in the general education curriculum with or without modifications, adaptations, or additional support and services, based on assessments that relate directly to the general education curriculum and grade-level content standards.
6. Strengths: description of what the student does well, which can be encouraged and embedded into educational goals
7. Academic, developmental, and functional needs related to student’s disability: description of the child’s specific skills that are deficient and impacting their involvement and progress in the general education curriculum, all of which must be addressed in the child’s goals and/or Specially Designed Instruction (“SDI”).
The baseline data collected in the Present Levels section is critical to meaningfully calculate what goals your child should be working toward and whether the appropriate SDIs are in place to facilitate that growth.
When reviewing your child’s “Present Levels” section of the IEP, ask yourself these questions:
- Does this sound like my child?
- Did my child reach the goals we set last year?
- How was progress on goals reported last year? Did this system work?
- Are all of the areas of need identified?
- Are my child’s strengths being considered?
- How old is the data in this IEP? Is it still relevant to share with the individuals who will be providing your child instruction during this IEP period?
- Does the “parental concerns” section reflect all of my concerns?