FOCUS ON THE IEP: Present Levels of Academic Performance

Once eligibility is determined, the IEP team has the task of preparing an IEP for the student with a disability. The components of the IEP are: present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, measurable annual goals, progress towards meeting annual goals, appropriate accommodations, and, when appropriate, explanation of the extent the child will not participate with non-disabled children in the regular class and transition requirements. This post will focus on levels of academic achievement and functional performance.

According to 20 U.S.C. Section 1414(d)(1)(A) and Cal. Ed. Code Section 56345(a)(1), present levels of academic achievement and functional performance includes:

  • how the child’s disability affects the child’s involvement and progress in the general education curriculum;
  • for preschool children, as appropriate, how the disability affects the child’s participation in appropriate activities; and
  • for children with disabilities who take alternate assessments aligned to alternate achievement standards, a description of benchmarks or short-term objectives.

The present levels of academic achievement and functional performance link all the components of the IEP by creating a baseline for designing educational programming and measuring a student’s future progress toward annual goals. According to commentary in the Federal Register, as Page 46662, “academic achievement” generally refers to a child’s performance in academic areas (e.g. reading or language arts, math, science, and history). (71 Fed. Reg. at 46662)

Functional performance generally refers to skills or activities that may not be considered academic or related to a child’s academic achievement. These are the skills which are “routine activities of everyday living”. (71 Fed. Reg at 46662) Functional performance skills are not defined. Some examples, without limiting the scope, are social, mobility, work, and behavioral skills. The Federal Register left this term broad for teams to determine if the fit the scope. The IEP team should look at a student’s strengths and needs which impair the student’s ability to access their education.


(Note: This Blog/Web Site is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. The website has been designed to be a resource for information on matters that might be of interest to current or potential clients but does not establish that relationship. For further information visit my Disclaimer page-

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