2nd-5th Grade 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 mid- to late-elementary level in mathematics and assessments you can use to write even better PLOPs for your own students!
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.
Adrian can read numbers to a 1,000 consistently and write numbers to 1,000 with 75% accuracy. He can put numbers in order (given three numbers) to 10,000. Adrian solved addition fact problems with 50% accuracy and subtraction fact problems with 40% accuracy. On those assessments he was not able to solve two digit addition or subtraction facts with any accuracy. He knows his ones multiplication facts. When Adrian is given a word problem and asked to show his work he tries to do so. For a simple one step addition word problem, Adrian was able to draw a picture and use it to find the right answer. For the simple one step subtraction problem, he knew to draw a picture and to cross some out but instead of crossing out just a couple of things, she crossed out all of her drawing and got the wrong answer. When the problems get harder or the numbers get bigger, his drawings and answers start to have less and less to do with the problem.
Ana can read and order numbers to 100,000 and write numbers to 1,000. She can add and subtract with regrouping, including across zeros. She can solve 30 mixed multiplication facts in 4 minutes and, given a slightly longer time frame, knows all of her multiplication facts. She can solve three by one digit long division problems with remainders and double digit multiplication problems given a multiplication chart. She needs support with rounding and with most fractions concepts. Ana can solve one step word problems with all four operations in group but struggled with a multiplication word problem on the assessment. She needs support with two step word problems and problems with confusing language. In class she gets some of the concepts right away but needs some concepts re-explained.
Assessments & Baselines
The question is, how do you get to strong PLOPs? The goal is always to 1) use as much classroom data you already have as possible; and 2) to get the most information about a student in the least amount of time possible. That means that you need assessment tools that work for you. I have assessment ideas below based on the packets I sell on Teachers Pay Teachers, where I also have free materials. You are welcome to borrow/use any ideas you see here! I am selling the packets because they were a lot of work-- not the ideas in the packets!
You and your student’s general education teacher most likely have a wide variety of rich classroom assessments to draw on for the IEP. This section has a few notes on what to think through as you go to add that material to the IEP.
Look through (and ask the general education teacher) for resources such as:
- Mathematics notebooks
- Examples of homework
- Exit slips
You also want to hear the teacher’s anecdotal observations– teachers are often excellent observers and their observations can help shape goals and PLOPs.
- Be judicious in what you include. Your job is not to grade a student but to report what they can do– focus on what a student can do, not on their grades.
- Check for independent work versus assisted– and think about the conditions under which the work was done. For a student with attention challenges, work done in a busy classroom might look different than a quiet study hall– all of that is important information but you don’t want to say something wrong about a student’s mathematical skills because you conflated their attention and their math prowess.
In class, Deandre loves to talk about the mathematics and works diligently on assignments. While his own notes are often challenging to read and incomplete, he does well when given copies of the teacher’s or a peer’s notes to work from. He generally shows a strong understanding of the mathematical concepts but struggles with execution of problems, missing steps, mixing up numbers, or getting confused part way through a problem. Strategies like graphic organizers, paper turned sideways, and having access to partially completed problems all help him in class.
Number sense captures both what numbers students can identify/count and their ability to make sense of those numbers. There are many ways to look at this from having students make numbers with tens and ones blocks to asking them to compare numbers– but the more information you have and can report, the better!
Number sense is a key component of grade level standards and so look for existing classroom evidence before you start creating assessments! The main challenge is finding classroom examples where the student was successful– an IEP should not read as a litany of failures!
The assessment packets includes number reading and writing activities as well as ordering and other number sense activities. The goal of the materials is to take the type of materials you already have and condense them in an IEP friendly format!
Number reading and writing: If the student is pretty good in math, don’t start at the beginning– save yourself some time! Stop the assessment when they have stop getting any right– if they can’t read any numbers in the 10,000s don’t have them read the numbers in the 100,000s.
Ordering numbers: Explain what greatest and least mean. If they get the first problem wrong, explain what they need to do again and give an example.
Nandita can read and write numbers to 10,000 consistently. She can write numbers to 100,000 with about 67% accuracy but struggles to read those bigger numbers. She can order numbers to 10,000 with 50% accuracy and needs support with fractions.
Computation is a common goal area for students with disabilities, whether it is adding fractions or subtracting whole numbers. I am a big believer in supports such as multiplication charts, manipulatives, or graphic organizers and so I always like to note both how a student does without supports and with supports.
Teachers often have a wealth of computation assessments on students sitting around the classroom! The challenge is that you want to report on what students CAN do. If a student on their own is getting most of the problems wrong on classroom assessments, you need to make sure that you are giving supplemental assessments that capture what they can do– and what supports they need!
The assessment packet has computation problems from basic addition through long division and fractions. The goal is for you to have resources to choose from– use only the ones that make sense for your students!
Addition and subtraction: The page starts with facts (10 addition and 10 subtraction), moves to two digit problems without regrouping (5 of each), then to two digit with regrouping, and then to longer problems with regrouping including subtracting across zeros. The whole page of addition and subtraction takes a long time for a student to complete. I often cross out the first few lines for my higher students. For my lower students, I have them stop when they can’t solve any more correctly.
Multiplication: This is a timed test but for lower students I will sometimes stop them when the time is up, circle the ones that they did in the time and then give them unlimited time to finish. I only do this if I think they could complete significantly more untimed.
Mixed harder math: If students struggled at all on the timed multiplication test I will give them a multiplication chart to use on this page. I pick and choose what problems on a page I will have a student complete– not all of them are appropriate for every student or every grade level.
Student 1: Michael can add with regrouping consistently. His subtraction is inconsistent. He solved subtraction fact problems with 30% accuracy but did better on two digit subtraction problems without regrouping problems, which he solved with 100% accuracy. He knows his 0s, 1s, 5s, 10s, and 11s multiplication facts and was able to solve 23 fact problems correctly in four minutes. He is not able to solve division fact problems either in his head or using a multiplication chart. He also needs support with harder multiplication problems.
Student 2: Mareen is inconsistent with her addition and subtraction. She solved two digit addition and subtraction problems with regrouping with only 60% accuracy but she solved harder three digit problems with 75% accuracy. She sets up her problems correctly but often seems to rush through solving the problem and will make basic mistakes like saying 6-5=6. She knows some scattered multiplication facts and is able to solve 11 facts problems correctly in four minutes. Mareen can use a multiplication chart both to find division facts and to solve multi- digit by one digit multiplication problems. She needs support with long division and multi-digit by multi-digit problems. Mareen can write numbers in expanded form but needs support to round numbers. She can inconsistently add like fractions.
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!
The word problems in the assessment packet build in complexity, both in terms of operations and in term of the language. The eight problems go from basic, one step addition and subtraction problems to two-step problems with multiplication and division.
I always offer to read the problems out loud to the students. For the lower students, I will read them out loud even if they don’t ask. I also always prompt them to show their work. I try to respect my time– and the student’s– and will stop the assessment when the can’t solve the problems correctly anymore.
Problems 1 and 2 are addition and subtraction problems with simple language. Problems 3 and 4 are addition and subtraction problems with deliberately confusing wording. If they get the first two right, but not the second two, it means that they can solve problems with simple language but struggle with more complicated language.
Fatima adds to solve all word problems and is able to solve one step word problems with addition only. She needs support to show her work.
Sara can solve one step word problems with all four operations and is able to show her work. She needs support with two step word problems.