The Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance statement (PLAAFP, or “present levels”) is a key part of your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). The very first PLAAFP for your child describes his skills and abilities based on his initial special education evaluation. The PLAAFP should cover all areas of development where your child may need support. Some examples are:
- Academic skills—counting, pre-reading, pre-writing
- Daily living or self-help skills—dressing, eating, using the bathroom
- Social skills—playing with friends
- Sensory skills—hearing, seeing
- Communication skills—talking, listening
- Mobility—getting around in school and the community
The purpose of the PLAAFP is to identify the kinds and amount of special education services your child may need. So the PLAAFP statement includes information about how your child’s disability affects or would affect his involvement in the general education curriculum. If your child is preschool age, his PLAAFP will focus on how his disability affects his involvement in typical preschool activities and development. In other words, you and the rest of the team will talk about the impact your child’s disability has on his ability to learn and do the kinds of things that children without disabilities learn and do. This information is then included in his IEP.
If your child is new to special education, this information will come from the tests and observations done during your child’s evaluation for eligibility. If your child’s IEP is being reviewed and revised, the information may come from evaluations done during the year.
Teachers and others who work with your child may offer information they’ve learned by observing your child’s day-to-day school routine. You as a parent can and should provide information that can help shape his PLAAFP.
What the PLAAFP should cover
A well-written PLAAFP statement includes:
- Your child’s strengths and weaknesses
- What helps your child learn
- What limits or interferes with your child’s learning
- Objective data from current evaluations of your child
- How your child’s disability affects his or her ability to be involved and progress in the general education curriculum
As parents, we want to make sure that all of the positive things about our child are included in the IEP. This is important information, but it does not belong in the PLAAFP statement unless it can guide teachers in helping your child. For example, "Aaron loves music" may be important to note if music helps calm Aaron, or if Aaron is able to learn new information through a song. This type of information is useful for teachers as they work with your child. Other positive information that does not have an impact on behavior or learning is important. It needs to be somewhere else in the IEP, not in the present levels statement.
For the youngest students, Texas has developed the Prekindergarten Guidelines. A companion document, called the Early Childhood Outcomes and Prekindergarten Guidelines Alignment (PDF), known as the ECO/PreK Guidelines, has been developed to offer a greater developmental continuum that can help identify necessary skills for children, who may not yet be ready for 3 or 4 year old guidelines. The alignment document describes foundational skills that can lead to the age-appropriate skills. This document helps parents and teachers develop PLAAFP statements based on 10 skill areas appropriate for preschool students:
- Social and emotional development
- Language and communication
- Emerging literacy: reading
- Emerging literacy: writing
- Social studies
- Fine arts
- Physical development
A clearly written and thorough PLAAFP is important, because it is the foundation for everything in your child’s IEP that follows it. IEP goals are based upon your child’s present levels. Special education and related services are based on it, too. So take your time in writing the PLAAFP, or present levels statement. Be thorough. The information you include will be the stepping stone for the rest of the IEP.
For more detailed information on present levels, see Legal Framework.
Parts of this article were adapted from the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY), Parent Guide 12 by Theresa Rebhorn.