Effective IEP Meetings Part 1: Effect of Disability

Present Levels of Academic and Functional Performance (PLAAFP) is to me the most important and essential section of the IEP. The PLAAFP is the heart of an IEP, everything can be connected back to it. Make sure to include strengths as well as areas of need.
By Trish Geraghty
This section is at the beginning of most IEP templates or programs I have seen and for good reason. It is imperative you understand how a student with a disability is impacted and what should be considered in the development of the IEP. 

A well-defined Effect of Disability makes writing the rest of the IEP easier and more impactful in addressing the strengths and needs of the student. 

The information for this section comes from the Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team report. You can also work with your school psychologist or diagnostician for a statement about the impact of the student’s disability on their education. This statement really gets to the heart of how a student’s disability affects their functioning and access to the curriculum. Make sure in the statement you include the disability and how it relates to academic and functional performance relating to accessing and making progress in the curriculum. Include all areas of eligibility, as well as any related services that the student may receive. 

Example for a student with a specific learning disability in basic reading:

Trish has a specific learning disability in basic reading which impacts her access to grade level work due to difficulty with decoding unknown multisyllabic words. She will need explicit systematic reading instruction using multisensory reading strategies to support her in decoding and reading with fluency. In addition to decoding struggles, the lack of reading fluency impacts overall comprehension skills. Trish will need additional time to read and answer questions. The need for additional time can become frustrating to Trish and she will rush through tests without double checking to mimic her peers. Due to her reading struggles, Trish is often hesitant to participate in class, especially read alouds, and she should not be asked to unless she volunteers.

In the above example, you see the reference to the disability, impact on basic reading skills, comprehension, and the social aspect. When you write or review this section, think of the whole child and how the disability may impact him/her throughout the school day both academically and functionally. 

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Trish Geraghty
Trish Geraghty currently serves as a director for school improvement and supports schools in the continuous improvement process. Prior to working in school improvement, Trish was a special education director for eight years in a large urban school district. She received her Master’s Degree from Arizona State University in 2013 in Educational Leadership. She also holds two additional Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Arizona State University and a Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Phoenix. Literacy instruction, data analysis, and Strengths-based leadership are areas of research and presentations Trish shares frequently with schools and their leadership teams. Trish was named teacher of the year by the Council for Exceptional Children in 2004 and a finalist for the Rodel Teacher of the Year in 2010. She has educational experience at the elementary, secondary, and university level. To contact Trish, please email trishkgeraghty@gmail.com.

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