One of the major tasks that we have as special educators is writing Individualized Education Programs, or IEPs. A major component of the IEP is the statement of annual goals and objectives. The goal statement is basically the destination that you want the student to get to within the year and the services that you put into place should support these annual goals.
Creating a quality goal with correctly scaffolded objectives can take a lot of time and effort, so I want to show you one way in which you can break down this process into a series of manageable steps. But before we dive into how exactly to go about writing goals and objectives, first let’s look at how IEP goals are defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act:
(II) a statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals, designed to–
(aa) meet the child’s needs that result from the child’s disability to enable the child to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum; and
(bb) meet each of the child’s other educational needs that result from the child’s disability
When creating academic goals for students, it is important to ground the goals in the grade level content standards. This provides students with access to grade level curriculum as stated above. For many districts who are working with the Common Core State Standards, it is also important to base grade level goals on how students are functioning within relation to these grade level content standards.
Step 1. Identify the Standards that Meet the Student’s Needs
The first step in this process involves identifying the standard(s) that should be addressed. You can start by identifying the grade level standards for the student. These standards have already broken out by grade level and have been organized by domain within this document.
By reviewing the student’s Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance, you can determine which standards the students may have the most difficulty with. Additional data sources can be utilized to assist with identifying standards that the student needs focus on.
Teachers should then prioritize the standards based on those that would have the greatest impact on the student’s progress towards grade level. For math, one consideration could be around the mathematics content at the student’s current grade level. Major content in the area of mathematics is defined as the major work for the grade level, which means that these are the areas in which teachers will spend most of their time throughout the year.
Special educators can choose to focus on these areas when creating IEP goals since we know that these are areas that will be focused on heavily during day-to-day instruction. To learn more about this please follow this link: https://achievethecore.org/content/upload/Focus_in_Math_06.12.2013.pdf
For English Language Arts, you want to really think about the standards that are going to support your student in being a successful, lifelong reader. For each student that will be different based on individual need, but major standards that come to mind as being high leverage are those that focus on main idea and details, using evidence from a text, and writing an argument.
Also, many times we need to think about how to leverage basic phonics and writing mechanics skills that many of our students may require support with.
Step 2. Set Performance Target
The next step would be to set the performance target. You can utilized the Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance in order to determine the baseline performance, historical rate of growth/progress, accommodations, and necessary supports needed to make the grade level content accessible for the student.
By deconstructing the standard and determining which components will promote student success, a individualized performance target can then be set.
For example, in math, you may want to see a student demonstrate success through completion of a teacher generated worksheet with 80% accuracy over the course of 4 to 5 trials.
Step 3. Develop a SMART IEP Goal.
Special education teachers should ensure that they are keeping in mind what the acronym SMART stands for when developing goals:
S – Specific: The goal is focused by content (i.e. the standards) and the learner’s individual needs.
M – Measurable: Performance target is clearly stated and an appropriate measure is selected to assess the goal.
A – Attainable: Based on the student profile, it is determined that they have the ability to meet the performance target.
R – Relevant: Relevant to the individual student’s needs.
T – Time-bound: The goal is achievable within the time frame of the IEP.
Step 4. Develop SMART Objectives aligned to the selected IEP Goal.
There are three ways in which you can develop scaffolded objectives:
Sequential benchmarks that demonstrate increasing fluency, independence, or accuracy
Components of the goal