PreK-2 Mathematics Present Levels & Assessments

Writing a strong IEP begins with strong assessments and knowing what your student CAN do in each subject. This page walks through sample PLOPs for students working at a very early elementary level in mathematics and assessments you can use to write even better PLOPs for your own students!

Present Levels

The goal of a Present Level for any student is to tell about what that student can do. A PLOP that says, "Juan can read one work of a fifth-grade book per minute," tells you nothing about where Juan is at academically and nothing about what goals to set for the student. After having read far, far too many present levels that sound like that, I figured it would make sense to share what I think a strong PLOP might sound like. The ones below are very, very imperfect-- but they each give you concrete information about what the imaginary student can do-- information that you could use to come up with actually individualized goals.

Nikola can read and write numbers to 100. She can rote count to 49 and count backwards from 5. She needs support to count by 5s or 10s and put numbers in order. She can tell what is one more than a number.

Nikola understands what addition and subtraction are but is still shaky on executing the steps. When she was asked to use blocks to solve addition and subtraction problems, she sometimes added and sometimes subtracted and, when she did try to do the right operation, she got the correct number of blocks about half of the time. Her overall accuracy on fact problems was less than 25%.

Nikola knows six days of the week and one month of the year. She can name a penny but not other coins. She can name all of her colors and all of her basic shapes except for a triangle, which she can point to. Se can add onto ABAB patterns but not ABBABB or ABC patterns.

In the classroom, Nikola understands the grade level concepts and can do the grade level work if she gets the information repeated and extra time. She needs support to understand the material initially but then, given more time, is able to do the work on his own.

Mathematics is Amina's favorite subject! She can rote count to 30 and count objects consistently to 20 and inconsistently to 30. She can identify the numbers 1 to 10 consistently. She sometimes reverses numbers like 12 and 21 and so her accuracy after 10 is lower. She can write numbers to ten as well, although many of the numbers are reversed. She knows her birthday, three months, and four days of the week. She can identify basic shapes like hearts and squares and her colors.

She can tell you which object is bigger or smaller and which group has more or less. She has an emerging sense of addition and subtraction and can use manipulatives to add or take away from a group but needs support to do problems on paper. Given teacher and picture support, she can solve one step addition and subtraction story problems with numbers to ten.

Assessments & Baselines

The first challenge is to figure out how high a student can count, what numbers they can
read and write, and how well they can compare numbers. 

  • How high can the student rote count?
  • How high can they count with one-to-one correspondence?
  • Can they count down? From what? What about skip counting?
  • Which numbers do they recognize? Which can they write?
  • Can they tell you which group is larger or smaller? What one more or less than a group is?

The assessment packet provides resources, including:

  • Mixed up numbers  to ten, twenty, and a hundred for students to identify. 
  • Recording sheets for number identification, number writing, and counting.
  • Pictures of animals for students to count and to record numbers.

With some students who are struggling with more than and less I will  try out different wording for “one more” and “one less” like what’s bigger than or greater than a number.  For rote counting I have noticed that a lot of kids can go to 29 and then skip 30, go to 39 and then skip 40. Don’t just write down the highest number they can count to– write down any thing interesting that they do while they are counting. If they look like they are going to make it to a hundred, stop them and just write, “past 50” or something like that in the present levels.

Han can rote count to 29 and has one to one correspondence for counting objects past 20. He can’t count down from a number but he can count by 10s to 50. He can tell what is one more than a number for numbers to 20 and tell what is one less than a number for numbers to 10.

In addition, we need to figure out what students know about shapes, colors, money, time, calendar, mathematical concepts and patterns. All of these are part of life skills as well as basic math concepts.  The goal is to report out the highest skill a student has like telling time to the half hour, identifying coins, or adding like coins.

  • Can a student tell time? If so, to what?
  • Which coins can a student identify?
  • What colors and shapes can they identify?
  • What mathematical concepts do they have like more, less than, bigger, or smaller?
  • Can they continue a pattern? What type?
  • What days and months do they know? What about their birthday? 

The assessment packet provides resources, including:

  • Colors, shapes, and coin pictures for students to identify.
  • Pictures for students to use in identifying more, less, bigger, smaller and other concepts.
  • Patterns and clocks for students to identify,
  • Recording sheets for days, months, money, and mathematics concepts.

The concepts tend to be an area of strength for most kids. Make sure to read them the directions. Money and time are hard. If a kid doesn’t know their coins, don’t have them try to add them. Likewise, if a student gets the first row of clocks (time to the hour) wrong, then stop the time assessment there. There is no elegant way to write this up so just write down what the kid can do.

Niko understands basic math concepts like bigger/smaller and taller/shorter. He can name all basic colors and most basic shapes, except for ovals and rectangles which he can point to. He knows the name of a penny and the value of a quarter. Niko can tell time to the hour and knows five days of the week and three months of the year when prompted. He can add onto an AB pattern but not more complex patterns.

Addition and subtraction present levels for students working at a lower elementary school include both the types of numbers they can add and subtract and how they do it– can they do it with blocks, with their own pictures, by modifying a picture you drew, by writing numbers, in their head, or some other way? What tools do they use to solve the problems?

  • Can students add and/or subtract numbers to ten using blocks? What about with bigger numbers?
  • Can students add and/or subtract using pictures that you have drawn?
  • Can students add and/or subtract using numbers? If so, how? Do they draw pictures, use their fingers, make tallies, do it in their heads or something else?

The assessment packet provides resources, including:

  • Recording sheets for any addition or subtraction problems students do with blocks.
  • Picture and number based addition and subtraction problems.

There are three levels of addition and subtraction in the assessment– with already drawn pictures, with blocks that a student has to get out, and with just paper. If the student struggles with blocks and pictures don’t have them try the paper only. Pay attention to how they are solving the problems and what goes wrong when they get it wrong– are they just guessing? Over-counting blocking? Making their drawings too messy?

tudent 1:

Suann has a concept of addition and can solve addition fact problems with blocks. She does not yet have a concept of subtraction.

Student 2:

Dante can solve basic addition and subtraction fact problems by drawing lines and circles. When the numbers get bigger, he sometimes draws the wrong numbers of lines or counts them incorrectly. He needs teacher support to do all two digit problems.

Word problems, also known as story problems, are often an area of challenge for students with disabilities as the problems combine decoding, reading comprehension, mathematical problem solving, and mathematical procedures. As a result, it is worth taking the time to build out the PLOP in this area– many students need goals in word problems so you need to know where they are at!

Word problems vary in:

  • Whether the student reads it or you do
  • How many steps there are
  • How confusing the language is
  • The complexity of the vocabulary
  • The relevance of the content to the student 
  • How big the numbers are
  • The number and types of procedures required
  • The types of support students are offered to solve them

Your goal is to try to figure out where a student is right now– and to use that to figure out a plan to get them a bit closer to grade level for the next year!

There aren’t a lot of great word problem resources for students working at the early elementary level so I tried to make a few that vary a bit in complexity and provide students with differing levels of visual supports.

  • Try reading the problems to students.
  • Let them try the problems on their own. If they are struggling, start offering them support and note down which supports were the most helpful for them and what you saw them doing!

Given already drawn pictures or groups of manipulatives, Amina can solve one step addition and subtraction problems with numbers smaller than ten.