Section 3: Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance
Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance should be used to provide a holistic view of the student through a variety of means, including current classroom-based assessments, district and/or state assessments, and classroom-based observations, which includes parent, student and general education teacher input in all relevant areas. The determination of the student’s present level of performance should use a variety of technically sound assessment tools and strategies to gather academic and functional information.
The analysis of the data and information presented regarding the student’s present level of performance must directly assist the PPT in determining the educational needs of a student in relationship to the student’s involvement and progress in the general curriculum or appropriate preschool activities. The assessment data used, may vary depending on whether the IEP being developed is a result of an initial evaluation, annual review, or a three-year reevaluation. Standardized assessments, alone, may not necessarily provide the adequate information needed to determine the educational needs of a student in relationship to the general curriculum. A comprehensive evaluation should include other assessments to capture academic achievement and related developmental needs. Therefore, curriculum-based assessments, portfolios, running record, student work, etc. may be appropriate information sources for identifying present levels of academic and functional performance in relation to the general education curriculum.
It is particularly important that this section include student strengths, as well as areas of concern that were identified during the evaluation, including parent, student and general education teacher input on strengths and concerns. When completing this section, the PPT should focus on how the student’s strengths and concerns/needs affect the student’s involvement and progress in the general curriculum. As part of the process of defining the student’s current level of performance, the PPT must identify what the student currently knows and can do.
This section is important to the development of the IEP as it defines the need for specialized instruction and determines how that specialized instruction should look in terms of goals, supports, and services. The remaining sections of the IEP should be directly aligned with the information in this section. This section is intended to provide a place for the PPT to include a general summary of performance levels rather than to provide a detailed report of all evaluation results. Detailed evaluation information should be found in separate evaluation reports. For any data that is recorded in this section, the PPT must document the source of the data (classroom-based assessments, district and/or state assessments, classroom-based observations, parent, student and general education teacher input, etc.) and use language that is easily understood by both parents and educators.
Parent and Student Input
The input and/or concerns from parents and students must be considered in the development of the IEP. The PPT should specifically record input from parents and student in the two domain areas: (1) Academic/Pre-Academic/Cognitive Achievement; and (2) Functional Performance.
For example, (1) the parent is concerned that their child needs a hands-on approach in science class rather than a lecture style, (2) the parent thinks that their child has made good progress in both reading and math this school year, and (3) the student shared that he gets frustrated when he does not understand teacher directions.
Academic and Functional Performance Goal Areas and Current Level of Performance
Academic Goal Areas include: Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Pre-Academic Skills and Other Academic areas.
Functional Performance Goal Areas include: Communication, Behavior, Social/Emotional, Executive Functioning, Fine Motor, Gross Motor, Activities of Daily Living, Health and Development and Other Functional areas.
Select “only those areas that meet the child’s needs that result from the child’s disability to enable the child to be involved in or make progress in the general education curriculum; and meet each of the other needs that result from their child’s disability,” 20 U.S.C. § 1414(d)(1)(A)(i)(II)(aa)(bb).
For each Academic and Functional Performance area selected, Current Level of Performance information needs to be provided and includes the following:
Present Level of Performance
As mentioned in the General Information section above, a student’s Present Levels of Performance should be determined by using a variety of technically sound assessment tools and strategies including current classroom-based assessments, district and/or state assessments, and classroom-based observations, which includes parent, student and general education teacher input in all relevant areas. The focus of the Present Level of Performance section should be how the student is currently performing. The statements included here should clearly articulate what the student currently knows and can do in relationship to their involvement and progress in general curriculum or appropriate preschool activities. If the student’s present levels of performance represent a discrepancy between the age/grade level expectation and performance, the PPT should provide details. If the student’s present level of performance includes the use of supplemental aids and services, the PPT can record that information.
Additional Data/Assessment Information (not included in Present Level(s) of Performance)
This section is located at the end of the Academic Achievement and Functional Performance sections of the IEP. The PPT should enter other relevant data and information (for example, WISC scores, etc.) that do not neatly fit into a specific goal area.
Strengths should include all relatively strong areas for the student. A strength, when compared to peers, or particular motivational or interest area can be used to inform IEP goals and objectives. Strengths could be determined by taking an inventory of the student’s strengths, interests, and preferences that is then used to support instructional decisions and create a personal connection to learning and create choice for students. Examples of strength-based phrases include but are not limited to “excels at” “achieves at grade/age level” or “does well”. The PPT could also list the conditions in which the student may excel (for example, time of day, content area, seating arrangement), and build upon these conditions throughout the school day to provide scaffolding for areas of weakness. If the student’s strength is supported by the use of supplemental aids and services including assistive technology, the PPT can record that information. For example, “when using a slant board, the student can write legibly.”
The PPT uses the information provided by the parents and student as well as the present level of performance information as the basis for making decisions related to concerns/needs to be addressed in the current IEP. Issues that are identified as a concern/need will likely result in corresponding goals and objectives or supplementary aids and services. Any concerns/needs included here that have a marked impact on the child’s educational performance and require specialized instruction must result in a corresponding annual goal. If there are concerns raised that do not rise to the level of needing specialized instruction, then the PPT may note those under “Other options the PPT considered and rejected” section of the Prior Written Notice.
Impact of student’s disability on involvement and progress in the general education curriculum or appropriate preschool activities
Care should be taken to describe how the student’s disability specifically impacts their involvement and progress in the general curriculum or participation in appropriate preschool activities. In completing this section, it may help to think in terms of “if-then” statements (in other words, if there is a concern, then what is the impact on the student’s participation and progress in that area?) To illustrate, for a high school student with a learning disability, one might indicate “that the student’s level of decoding skills and reading rate make it difficult for the student to complete independent reading assignments in the content areas and require accommodations to such assignments.” For a student with significant language and motor delays, one might indicate that “the severity of language and motor delays limits the student’s understanding of oral and written language and limits written expression to such an extent that the student cannot participate in written and oral activities in the classroom without accommodations and modifications.”
For students who are placed in an out-of-district placement (for example, RESC or Approved Private Special Education Program) the impact statement continues to refer to the student’s involvement and progress in the general education curriculum or appropriate preschool activities within the placing District. The impact of the disability may be so great to require curricular modifications and behavioral accommodations that cannot be met in the public-school setting.