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IEP Help Understanding Goals

In order to understand goals, you need to understand their relationship with Present Levels of Performance (PLOPs) and services and setting. Without understanding this relationship, you lose the purpose of the IEP and it just becomes an undecipherable, multi-page document.

What’s A PLOP?

Prior to IDEA 2004, a student’s present level of ability was known as PLOP. With the passing of IDEA 2004, the requirements for PLOPs were clarified and a new acronym was born – PLAAFP. This stands for Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance. Typically, PLAAFPs are the first topic of discussion at an IEP. This is where the team reports out on the student’s present levels. This includes parent input in relation to the student’s strengths and interests, as well as any concerns the parent may have related to educational progress. Current assessment data is reported out by the team, as well information for the following categories:
●Pre Academic/Academic/Functional Skills,
●Communication Development,
●Gross/Fine Motor Development,
●Social Emotional/Behavioral,
● Adaptive/Daily Living Skills, and
This information creates a baseline for the goals and lays the groundwork for the rest of the IEP by determining the areas of need.

The PLAAFPs are the starting point for the goals. The information in the PLAAFPs reveals the academic and functional needs of the student. Each need must be addressed through a goal.

How to Tell if a Goal is Good

The first thing you want to examine when analyzing a goal is the starting point or the baseline. You want to make sure that it matches a baseline identified in the PLAAFPs, and that it addresses a specific need. This will be the base (or unit) of measurement to monitor the student’s progress on the goal. Therefore you want to make sure that it is clearly written and measurable.

If you can clearly understand a goal and are able to see how it will be measured, chances are that it is well written. If you cannot understand it or can’t see how it will be measured, be sure to ask the person responsible for the goal to clarify it. If they are unable to clarify it, then it is time to break it down and rewrite it. Every goal should have the following aspects to it: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. If it has all these aspects then it is known as a SMART Goal. Almost every educator is trained with this method when learning how to write goals.

Specific and measurable are the aspects of the goal that enable you to visualize or see it. Attainable means that the student has the ability and or is developing the skills to be able to reach this goal. Relevant refers to the goal addressing a specific need that was identified in the PLAAFPs and timely means the student is likely to reach this goal within a one year time frame. All of these aspects should be clearly addressed in the goals.

How Do The Goals Relate With The Rest Of The IEP?

The goals are the driving force for the rest of the IEP. Basically, The PLAAFPs are the start  point, the goals are the end point, and the rest of the IEP determines how the IEP team will help the student get from the the start point to the end point. The IEP team will discuss what types of supports and services the child may need to reach the goals. Any needed accommodations and/or modifications will be added to the IEP. The need for transportation and Extended School Year (ESY) will also be determined, as well as any additional needs of the child. The student’s IEP determines what the IEP team will do to assist the student for the next year and the IEP becomes the contract between the school and the parents.

How Is The IEP Contract Monitored?

The person responsible for the oversight of the IEP is the student’s case manager.  At the beginning of the school year, the case manager should review the IEP to makes sure that all the services and supports are put in place for the school year. This person is the “coordinator” of the support services to help the child reach the goals for the year. They are responsible for notifying the general education teacher of any accommodation or modifications that the child may need in the general education setting. They are also responsible for scheduling IEP meetings and making sure that the progress reports for the goals are completed by all the service providers.

As a Parent, How Can I Monitor the IEP?

Just like the case manager, you should review the IEP at the beginning of the school year. Be sure to review the goals, the services, the accommodations and modifications, as well as the notes from the last IEP meeting. Some service providers will contact parents at the beginning of the year to let them know that they will be working with their child that year. If you do not hear from the service providers within the first full week of school, check in with the case manager to see who will be providing services for your child. The case manager will be able to inform you if the services have been scheduled and provide you with a name and telephone number for each service provider.

If your child is receiving accommodations and modifications in the general education setting, be sure to ask the case manager how and when the general education staff was notified. It is also a good idea to then follow up with the general education teacher(s) and make sure they are aware of these additional supports for your child.

It is very important to review the notes from the last IEP because the notes often capture intentions that sometimes are forgotten over the summer. You do not want to delay a service or assessment for your child if it was captured in the notes but never acted upon.

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s program, be sure to consult with the case manager. They may be able to resolve your concerns with a conversation or suggest an IEP meeting. If you are still feeling uncomfortable about your child’s program, you may want to consult with a special education advocate. They have the expertise to review the IEP, and provide you with guidance.

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