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Ending the School Years: Your Child's Summary of Performance
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that schools provide a student receiving special education services with a Summary of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (SAAFP) when the student graduates with a regular diploma or exceeds the age of eligibility for special education (age 21). Most states refer to this document as a Summary of Performance (SOP), though Pennsylvania uses the acronym SAAFP. The purpose of the SOP (or SAAFP) is to assist the student in transitioning beyond high school. It may include input from various people, including the student, parents, teachers, and agency representatives (for example, the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation - "OVR").
The SOP must include recommendations on how to assist the student in meeting his or her goals for after high school. The IDEA does not otherwise specify the information that must be included in the SOP. Thus requirements for the SOP will vary according to where you live. In general, a SOP must be completed during the final year of the student's high school education so that the document contains the most updated information about the student's abilities, needs, and goals for the future.
In a document posted on the U.S. Department of Education's website, the federal government has indicated that the SOP does not have to be sufficient to enable an Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) to determine eligibility for services or for a college or other institution of higher learning to determine the need for accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. However, the SOP may include information that may assist another program to determine a student's eligibility for services or accommodations. Indeed, a well-thought out SOP can provide excellent information that describes the student's high school and post-high school goals, career interests, levels of academic performance, need for reasonable accommodations, and the functional levels of the student's social and independent living skills, at the time of completion of high school, thus easing the transition to the next life phase.
Most importantly, however, the SOP can be a vehicle to assist with self-advocacy. Through the SOP, students may gain a better understanding of their strengths and needs and of supports that might be helpful after high school. Though inclusion of recommended supports in the SOP does not guarantee the student will receive them after graduation, should an individual on the autism spectrum decide to share the SOP or the information contained within it, the SOP may lead to greater understanding, tolerance, and acceptance.