2nd-5th Grade IEP Present Levels of Performance & Assessments

Present Levels are at the heart of IEPs and the sections least supported in district IEP writing programs! Use the links below to find examples of high-quality present levels by subject area or read below to learn more about writing your own!

Present Levels 101

While the other pages delve into sample present levels and assessments for content areas, this page provides an overview of what they are, why they matter, and what it means to write them well!

Present levels, also known as PLOPs or PLAAFPS, are the descriptive part of an IEP. They are where you tell a story about exactly what a student can do today in their academics, socioemotional functioning, motor skills, and speech and communication. Done right, they set up the goals, which flow from areas where the student is now weak, and the supports that the student will receive over the next year. 

IDEA, the federal law for special education, specifies that you need to include present levels but is pretty vague on what needs to be included. IDEA just says that IEPs need to include:

“(1) A statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, including—
(i) How the child’s disability affects the child’s involvement and progress in the general education curriculum (i.e., the same curriculum as for nondisabled children);”
Districts vary in how they interpret this! In most, there are boxes for different skills from speech and communication to socioemotional to functional to academic. It’s up to the special education teacher or related service provider to then figure out what to put in each box.

Many districts include a box for socioemotional skills in the present levels section. This is where you describe the student’s soft skills, from their class participation to their organization. This section also sets up all of your socioemotional goals so getting it right matters! Here are some skills you might discuss:

  • Attendance: Is attendance a strength? A need?
  • Class participation: Is the student an active participant? Quiet in class? Someone with great ideas and a tendency to shout them out?
  • Conflict management and safety: Are there peer issues at schools? Issues of physical safety? If so, they go here!
  • Work completion and organization: How much homework or classwork gets completed? How does the student do with starting tasks and sustaining attention? What about their desk and backpack? What do they look like?
  • Self-advocacy: How much does the student advocate for their own needs? Do they ask for help (too much? not enough?) What about asking for or using their supports in class?
  • Self-regulation: What happens when the student is upset? Anxious? How much do their emotions shape their academic experience?
  • Social skills: Does the student have friends? What happens in their peer interactions?

All of this– and more– can go into a socio-emotional present level!

Here are examples of a what a socioemotional present levels might sound like….

  • Angel gets along well with his peers. He likes to talk to people and to make them laugh. He
    is physically safe at school and generally respectful. He struggles with sustained attention in both whole
    group and small group settings and needs constant reminders to stay focused and on task. Even one on
    one during testing he struggled with maintaining focus during the test and was always trying to make the
    test more interesting—adding games, starting side conversations, jumping up to look for a friend. He
    loves to read and is participating more in the classroom.
  • Paola is sweet, respectful, and very social with her peers. She interacts well at recess and in groups.
    Paola is inconsistently able to advocate for herself. Sometimes she will ask for help with an activity
    and other times she either will do nothing or copy from a partner. She has trouble remembering who
    people are or how to get to places on campus and will ask for help sometimes and just be lost other
  • Diana is incredibly sweet, respectful, and kind. She gets along well with her peers and lights up when
    she does well in a group. She is very shy and needs to be drawn out to share in a group.
  • Leena is proud of the fact that she is nice, kind, and friendly. She is very quiet in class. During testing, she often needed between two and four minutes to come up
    with answers to problems. She often had the right answer in the end, but needed extensive wait time to
    come up with it. She doesn’t speak up for herself or ask for help either in the classroom or in the testing
  • Omar is kind to his peers and gets along well with others. He has good manners and wants to do well
    in school. He is aware of his strengths and weaknesses. His favorite subject is art and dislikes math. In
    whole group, he is sometimes nervous about being called on but he is more confident in the small group.
    Sometimes he is slow to start tasks in the classroom. He can be fidgety and needs to move around a lot.
    He asks to go to the bathroom when he thinks the work is hard.

If a student has related services for any of these areas, you are in luck and the related services provider will complete them. If not, you will need to fill out these sections. 

Here are a few tips:

  • Never write N/A! Briefly describe what a student can do.
  • If a student is strong in these areas, write that! IEPs are often really depressing to read so use this as your upbeat opportunity.
  • If you are concerned about a potential deficit in one of these areas, consult with a related service provider BEFORE the meeting! If you can’t and you list a possible deficit in one of these areas, you need to put consultation with the provider in the team action sections as a meeting follow up.

Here are a few examples of what these might sound like:

  • Communication: Liana is able to make her wants and needs known at school. Her family reports that communication is an area of strength for Liana.
  • Functional skills: Liana is able to take care of her personal needs at school and, per family report, at home. She reports helping her family by washing dishes and helping prepare meals.
  • Motor skills: Liana has excellent handwriting and is a strong four-square player at school. She reports that PE is her favorite class. 

The other sections linked at the top have examples of sections of academic present levels. Here’s an example of what one might look like– note that this is long! This box can be broken into multiple paragraphs– you don’t have to squish everything into one short paragraph!

Nathan is decoding and reading on his own at an early third grade level (DRA 28- 97% accuracy, DRA 30-95% accuracy). Nathan reads each word by word and will often skip unfamiliar words. He can read CVC words, words with blends, and words with digraphs proficiently. He can read long vowel words with 60% accuracy and words with vowel diphthongs with 40% accuracy.  Nathan had good comprehension on the beginning of third grade level text. He referred to all characters by name, and provided insightful responses to teacher questions and prompts after reading the story. In class, Nathan does well on comprehension the day the story is read in class but struggles to remember it after a few days. When he reads multiple books on the same topic, his retention improves.

In terms of writing, Nathan prefers handwriting over typing and can write a basic story. Nathan begins his sentences with proper punctuation and uses correct sentence endings 90% of the time. He is able to spell consonant and short vowels with over 90% accuracy. Nathan is still working on spelling digraphs, blends, and long vowel patterns. He is able to do simple writing assignments on his own but needs lots of support for longer assignments and with typing.

Math is the most challenging subject for Nathan. He can add and subtract one-digit numbers consistently and can solve two-digit problems with 50% accuracy. He can solve word problems with addition facts if the phrasing is simple, but needs support with more challenging problems and with showing his work. He knows his zeros and ones multiplication facts. In class, he is very confident on review materials but not on new material. He will ask a friend for help and will ask the teacher as well.