Why a PLAAFP needs a duck just like AFLAC!

  • By Kim Torres
    Down Syndrome Association Houston

September 12, 2019

We all know the duck that walks around encouraging us to pay attention to the benefits of Aflac insurance. I bet you can do a pretty good Aflac impersonation right now, in fact!?! But why then does the special education PLAAFP not have a duck? Or a bear? Or a bald eagle? In my opinion, the PLAAFP, or present level of academic and functional performance is the single most important part to any Individual Education Program (IEP). Like a good Aflac policy, it can provide a much needed payout in the end.

First, the PLAAFP is the foundation of the IEP. It is what all other sections are based on. A good PLAAFP leads has a better chance of leading to quality goals and an appropriate placement. Second, the PLAAFP is the one place in the document where statements of success can be highlighted. Yes, you read that right. The PLAAFP can (and should) talk about what your child does well in addition to what he or she needs work on. Third, the PLAAFP is what we look back at when goals are not being met or placement is no longer working. It is the data (supported by observation and measurable numbers) that tells us where we may need to adjust.

So how to you make sure you have a good PLAAFP. Here are five steps to begin with:

    1. Does your child’s PLAAFP talk about both their strengths and weaknesses? If not, it should.
    2. Does your child’s PLAAFP contain measurable data (that means numbers)? If it doesn’t, it should. A PLAAFP cannot be accurate if it is solely based on people’s opinion.
    3. Does your child’s PLAAFP relate to the goals that follow it? In other words, if the PLAAFP says your daughter is working on counting to 20, an annual goal of adding two digit numbers is probably not appropriate.
    4. Does your child’s PLAAFP support his placement? By this you need to look for data that supports a necessity for self-contained special education. Remember, removing a child from the general education environment is only an option after supports within the general education environment have been considered.
    5. And finally, are there lots of grammar errors? While I am personally the queen of typos, the PLAAFP is part of a legally binding document – the IEP. It should have been given the time and effort needed to removed typos and poorly worded phrases.