Excerpt from Wrightslaw.com
The Present Levels are the most critical part of the IEP. It is also the section that most parents and advocates prepare for the least. The parents’ input is most important during the IEP Team’s assessment of the child’s present level of performance. Only the parents know how the child functions at home, in the community, when doing homework, at work, and in the real world.
When the IEP fails to include accurate and up-to-date information about the child’s present levels, the IEP is defective. It has no foundation. Many times parents and their advocates have focused their efforts on the “last pages” of the IEP. That is, they have provided information to the IEP Team about placement, goals, and Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) instead of present levels of performance. They have placed the cart before the horse. Until they have completed accurate and up to date Present Levels, the IEP cannot be accurate.
Each time the IEP Team meets, it must update the child’s Present Levels.
The Katonah-Lewisboro (NY) School District failed to do this for one of its students. It simply copied the last year’s “Present Levels” into the new IEP, despite information that the student had made progress in all academic areas from the private placement the parents had secured the previous school year.
The Second Circuit decision found that the child’s IEP “was likely to cause [the student] to regress or make only trivial advancement.”
Read more about Present Levels: