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Always keep in mind the importance of the Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP) pages of your child’s IEP. These are the pages from which the IEP is developed. It is VITAL that your child’s PLAAFP pages are accurate. The US Department of Education’s view is that children with disabilities have IEPs designed to hold high expectations of the child and that his/her IEP give him/her meaningful access to a State’s academic content standards for the child’s grade.
It is great news that the US Government has openly stated that expectations should be as high for children with special needs as they are for their non-disabled peers. However, this can only be achieved if the child’s PLAAFP pages on his IEP give an accurate picture of the child’s abilities, learning style, and disabilities.
Unfortunately, unless parents are paying close attention, it can be easy, and perhaps even tempting, for districts to misstate the child’s abilities to the lower side. This is because lower expectations usually mean less need for additional supports. Additional supports, services, and service providers are expensive, so there is an incentive to keep expectations on the lower side.
Here is an example of the importance of accurate PLAAFP pages. A child I advocated for tested very low on the standardized tests (IQ test). The scores were well below the “Intellectually Disabled” range. As a result, the child’s school had very low expectations for her. We requested an Independent Educational Evaluation for the child. The evaluator came up with the same low scores as the school; however, it was the evaluator’s strong opinion that the child should not be considered and treated as “intellectually disabled”. Apparently, the child’s constellation of disabilities made it difficult for the child to obtain an accurate score on the standardized tests. She was, according to the Independent Evaluator, much smarter than her test scores indicated.
We insisted that the evaluator’s statement – that the child not be considered “intellectually disabled”) – be noted on the PLAAFP pages. The result was an IEP for this child that was MUCH more challenging and stimulating for the child to achieve ever increasing IEP Goals and Objectives. The student is happy and thriving – and performing mostly on grade level!!
This only happened because of our paying close attention to the true Present Levels of the child.