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How to Write an IEP Present Level

IEP present levels give the reader an idea of where the student is presently performing. A present level, is a snapshot look at what that student is doing in that exact moment of time. A well-written present level will allow future staff members to get to know the student. It should pass the ‘stranger test’. A stranger should be able to read your present level and know everything there is to know about the student. It’s important that when you write a present level, you stick to the specific academic area. When you are writing the present level for phonics, you shouldn’t have information about math strategies. A well-written present level should have all of the following information in it.

Standardized Assessments

In your present level, all data should be current within the last year of writing it. However, standardized assessments are your exemption to that rule. Standardized assessments can be data collected within 3 years of writing the present level. You should always include the assessment name, the data it was administered, the standard scores received (with qualitative description if appropriate) and anecdotal information about the assessment. It’s important to note whether the student was comfortable or nervous. Additional information might include things like how long it took the student to complete the subtest and whether the student seemed confident or as if he was guessing.

Write an IEP Present Level with Strengths and Weaknesses

I always include a short section presented as a list of items for strengths and weaknesses. I will explain these in detail more in the ‘classroom information’ section. For this part of my IEP present level, I simply having a running list…Something like:

Strengths: letter identification, letter sounds, CVC words, tapping sounds

Weaknesses: blending sounds, short vowel blends, short vowel digraphs, sight words

This gives the reader a super quick insight into the student’s abilities.

Grade Level Priority Skills

Student’s with an IEP are working on skills above, or below, the grade they are in. I include a paragraph of what a student in that grade is expected to learn, as well as where this student is currently performing. This helps to give a full picture of how far apart the child is from the grade level standards. I don’t include every standard that the student should know, but simply the priority standards for that grade level.

Trend Data in an IEP Present Level

It’s important to consider past progress. I look back and provide a brief summary of data for the last three years of progress. I mention what the student’s goal was, whether he met it, and how progress changed over the year. This helps me to form a new goal, as I can use this information to determine about how much progress I can expect a student to make in a year.

Classroom Information

This section is where I pack tons of anecdotal information. I mention things that I’ve seen, or had reported to me by other staff members. Here is a place to note participation as well as general understanding. Talk about those strengths and weaknesses from above. A staff member reading this section should get a good understanding of how the child is performing in the classroom environment. When appropriate, you may need to explain performance in the self contained setting vs performance in the inclusive setting.

How to Write an IEP Present Level Impact Statement

The present level impact statement should actually be called an impact paragraph, IMHO. But, my district calls it a statement. This is a very succinct paragraph that clearly explains the child’s weaknesses and the accommodations and supplementary aids that support that weakness. This paragraph statement is a great starting spot for someone reading the IEP. This should be the perfect bite-sized summary of the information they will find in other places on the IEP.

Baseline Data

Baseline data is your starting data points. It’s where the child is performing right at that moment and will help you build your goals. Baseline data does not have to be formal, standardized assessments. It could simply be student work you collected. The important thing to note, is that the work should be collected from approximately the same time period (don’t compare a math assignment at the beginning of the year and the middle of the year) and should target a variety of skills. You want an opportunity to assess many skills, so that you can see which specific skills the child is lacking in. I’ve used several different methods for collecting baseline data, but by far, my baseline data notebooks have been the most effective.

Grades and Attendance

A short paragraph explaining current grades and attendance is extremely informative. It’s always a good idea to mention if the grades are earned based on accommodations and supplementary aids or student’s independent work. Another point is to mention effort vs. success. A child who is missing 10 assignments and earning a C is a much different student than someone working their hardest and earning a C. Make sure you specify!

Functional, Health, and Parent Concerns

This section is where I list any relevant functional, health or parent concerns. This is a great way to show parent input on the IEP and to help future teachers understand particular needs of the student.

Conclusion

When done correctly, an IEP present level is a treasure trove of information. If you’ve included the information above, any staff member who works with that student should know exactly how he is performing and what his individual needs are. Present levels help guide the conversation during IEP meetings and assist in determining what supports and services are appropriate the student.

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