PLAAFP. No, it’s not a sneeze although it sure sounds like one if you try to say it out loud. PLAA&FP is another special education acronym that stands for “P resent L evels of A cademic A chievement & F unctional P erformance.” You may also see it called “PLOP ” – P resent L evels o f P erformance.
What in the world is that? Early in the development of an IEP, the ARD committee must review the most recent evaluation information available on your child, such as the previous year’s TAKS test, other forms of achievement testing, and achievement in the classroom. Then they document their findings in a series of PLAAFP statements. Simply put, what can this kid do and what does she know right now? The PLAAFP statement answers that question. It’s important to note that this information must be objective data, rather than teacher observations. The PLAAFP statement(s) must include information about the impact of your child’s disability on how much he/she is included and progressing in the general education curriculum (remember the TEKS ?)
Academic Achievement (PLAA FP)focuses on what specific kinds of academic information and skills your child has mastered – such as reading at a certain grade level, or performing certain mathematical calculations for example. Functional Performance (PLAAFP ) refers to other areas of achievement that are not academic. It can include information about your child’s social skills, communication skills, and other activities of daily living (ADL). Again the ARD committee must consider your child’s functional strengths and needs and how he or she is progressing and is involved in the general education curriculum.
Your child’s PLAAFP is an essential part of transition planning. Knowing the academic and functional skills your child possesses can help plan for his/her postsecondary goals.
Why is this information necessary? The PLAAFP is the basis on which the ARD committee will write goals for your child’s educational year. It gives the ARD committee a starting place. If your child’s PLAAFP says he can read at the 2nd grade level, you know that his IEP goals should include reading at a higher than 2nd grade level. If her PLAAFP shows that she can add one digit numbers, you might write a goal that she will begin adding 2 digit numbers with or without regrouping. If the PLAAFP states your child can perform a task with two prompts, an IEP goal might work toward performing that task with 1 prompt or independently.
What Parents Need to Know
- First of all, don’t get overwhelmed by the data found in evaluation reports. If you don’t understand the results of your child’s testing, ask someone to sit down with you (well ahead of the ARD date) and explain the results. The diagnostician is probably the person best able to explain the data in a way you can understand. You might also find help from local parent organizations or even another parent who understands this stuff. It is important for you to know what your child knows and what he can do. From there you’ll be better equipped to figure out the next steps he/she needs to take. There are numerous resources online as well to help you educate yourself about testing and interpreting results. See “Resources” at the end of this article for suggested websites. Be clear about the reason the ARD committee is required to review your child’s PLAAFP. Sometimes the ARD committee doesn’t make a clear connection between the student’s PLAAFP and the educational goals set for the coming year. Sometimes an ARD committee may use a “universal form” instead of really thinking about the current PLAAFP. Ensure that the PLAAFP reflects current year data and not something from a checklist. For example, the PLAAFP says your 8th grade child can identify coins/bills when you know your child has been working the past year on higher level math skills. You have to know where your child is before you can determine where he/she needs to go! Keep your child’s PLAAFP in front of you as you begin
developing new goals. Make sure the PLAAFP information provided on your child is measurable (you can count it, or observe it). It doesn’t help you to know that your son has improved his reading since last year or that your daughter’s spelling is below grade level. Just the fact that your child is participating in the general education curriculum is not enough information for PLAAFP. Ask the ARD committee to provide specific information that tells you grade level functioning (e.g. 6.2 grade level reading) or how consistently your child performs a certain task (e.g. 3 out of 4 times, 3 days out of 5, 20 minutes of every hour or how often something happens). Evaluate your child’s PLAAFP from your own perspective and compare it to what the school has determined. You bring information to the ARD committee that no test or report can provide. What strengths does your child demonstrate at home or other places outside of school? How do you/your family help your child build on his/her strengths? Your information and observations are an important part of this IEP process. As you consider the PLAAFP, keep your long-term goals in mind. Do you envision your child living independently or semi-independently after high school? Will he work? Will she drive a car? What about a social life? Your child’s Present Levels and subsequent IEP goals should always have those future, long-term goals in mind.
A Step-by-Step Approach to PLAAFP:
- Ask yourself these questions – and write down your answers:
- What is my child’s response to academic instruction? What programs, interventions, or accommodations are successful with my child? What does my child’s current assessment data tell us? How does my child’s disability affect his progress in the general education curriculum (TEKS )?
- Using the information you gathered for Step 1, develop a good “Present Level” Statement:
______________(child’s name) can _____________at _________ grade level as measured by________________.
- Sally can read at a 2nd grade level as measured by tests from the Itsy Bitsy Spider Reading series of Perfect ISD. Bobby communicates in three word sentences with a Dynavox based on data collected by Ms. Super Teacher. Sam matches 5-10 vocabulary words with their definitions on a 4th grade level as measured by unit tests delivered in his geography class.
Where can you find good sources of data for Present Level statements? Here are a few ideas:
OK, now you know what a good Present Level statement should look like. Check your skills! What’s wrong with these Present Level statements?
- Billie is a 3rd grader who has difficulty with reading, writing, and math. James is successful with modifications and special ed programming and resource assistance, earning passing grades in all classes. Christopher participates in 10th grade science. Karen’s grades are: 90% in English, 78% in math, 83% in Science, and 88% in Socials Studies.
The problem with each of these poor examples of Present Level statements (and these are taken from real IEPs of real students!) is this: None of these statements tell you exactly what the student is currently doing, at what level he is currently doing it, and how we know he is doing it. Don’t let your child’s PLAAFP make those mistakes!
The bottom line of PLAAFP: Whatever the ARD Committee lists on this part of the IEP MUST lead to the next steps – the Goals and Objectives for the following school year. Too often we see IEPs that provide a wonderful laundry list of what the child is currently doing, and then moves to a completely disconnected list of goals and objectives for the child to target in the next year. What’s the point? The purpose of PLAAFP is to lead the ARD committee to the next logical steps in the child’s education…the goals and objectives.
Think you’ve got a handle on PLAAFP? It’s time to start writing goals.