February 15, 2016

It is critical to write a comprehensive IEP for a student. It is what drives a student’s special education programming as well as identifies the supports needed to access general education curriculum.

SLP Toolkit’s Present Level Assessment (PLA) tool is an excellent way to quickly identify a comprehensive communication profile. The auto-summary feature takes the information from the PLA, scores it, and generates a communication strengths and needs profile that can be copied and pasted into the present levels section of a student’s IEP. While it is not fool-proof (e.g. some information may duplicate; you may need to adjust phrasing or expand on the information), it is a huge time-saver and does give you a lot of information you may not necessarily see in your therapy sessions with a student.

But now what?

First of all, give yourself a high five! By administering the PLA and including this information in present levels, you have already completed the hard part. The information from the PLA will drive completion of the rest of the IEP document, particularly goals and service time.

The IEP team should consider the following steps:

  • Once needs are identified, document how those needs will best be supported.

  • Write goals for the needs that are the greatest impediment to the student’s access to general education curriculum.

  • Identify who will address those needs and what service time is required to meet the goals within a year’s timeframe.

  • For needs that do not have goals, include how the needs will be met through general education intervention. Write accommodations for those needs if required.

It is important to keep in mind that just because there is a need identified, you do NOT have to write a goal for that need. Rather, the IEP team should look for areas where there are gaps, overlaps and inconsistencies in a student’s program. Then the team will identify specifically who and how those areas can best be addressed.

For example, if a student has needs for grammar, this skill may not require a goal addressed by the SLP. The general education teacher can address the language and communication needs of the student as well. So instead of a grammar goal and increased speech time, the team must document what specific interventions the general education teacher will use to address grammar deficits. The team can then determine if any formal collaboration or consultation from the SLP are required to further support the general education teacher. This may look like:

Mia has difficulty using a variety of verb tenses in conversation and when writing. Mia’s teacher, Ms. Geraghty, integrates explicit grammar instruction into listening, speaking, reading and writing daily. She will provide Mia the opportunity to review concepts taught in order to achieve mastery of verb tenses in the general education classroom.

Students are entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education. How to best meet the needs of any individual student is a team-based decision. SLP Toolkit’s PLAs are designed to give teams the necessary information to help guide those decisions in the area of communication.