20 USC Sec. 1414(d)(1)(A)(i) states:
The term “individualized education program” or “IEP” means a written statement for each child with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised in accordance with this section and that includes—
(I) a statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, including . . .
It doesn’t state that it should include present levels from a year ago or two years ago. It states present levels—as in, where the student is at NOW.
And yet . . . There are IEPs that don’t have baseline data at the start of each year to measure progress. They are void of PRESENT levels.
If you happen to have a child in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), there is an IEP page that is actually titled, “Information Related to Present Level of Educational Performance”.
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has called out FCPS on its use of the page, specifically stating:
Further, we caution LEA that, as a best practice, the PLOP section of an IEP should be designed to address that which its name addresses—the student’s present level of academic and functional performance. While special education regulations mandate the consideration of parental concerns, nowhere do these regulations dictate the inclusion of summaries of IEP team discussion—in the IEP document itself as part of the Student’s present levels of performance.”
And yet, FCPS continues the same practice.
On FCPS IEPs “you’ll often find cherry picked “Present Levels of Performance” information on the pages titled “Area of Need / Annual Goal”.
Below is a real example from a FCPS IEP. Note the “Present Level of Performance” lists very little data, and that which is listed, is old. This is a proposed IEP for the 2018-19 school year and yet the data listed under the Present Level of Performance page is from 2017, with the exception of one mention of vocabulary assessments from the previous year and one data point from April 2018.
Where’s the actual present levels of performance?
To make matters worse, when you read the goal, you’ll see it is a vocabulary goal, even though the top of the page lists it as a Reading / Comprehension area of need / goal.
So what is actually on the FCPS IEP page titled “Information Related to Present Level of Education Performance”?
If you read it, it runs like meeting notes. If you’re a parent and your meetings are attended by Angelina Prestipino, you’ll know that this page captures the “spirit” of the conversation that took place during the meeting (a.k.a. what the school members of the IEP team choose to include).
Here’s an example below, from the same IEP referenced above. Does this look like a listing of present levels of performance to you?
Note that the parent wasn’t at the meeting, yet the narrative states the “team made needed clerical adjustments to the document”, but didn’t state what “clerical adjustments” it made.
The rest runs like a to-do list and documentation of tech issues and things the FCPS members of the IEP team thinks the student needs. And yet . . . NO present levels of performance listed on a page titled “Information Related to Present Level of Education Performance”.