IEP Goal Writing Tips

When a goal is written, it should take into account the current performance level of the student as well as where they hope to be in one year.  It must include either benchmarks or short-term objectives toward that goal.  My preference is to encourage the use of benchmarks.  Having worked with a varied of school districts, they seem to result in better written goals.   An objective breaks down a goal into specific parts and typically is measured and reported on quarterly.  A benchmark, however, describes the amount of progress expected quarterly.

The more specific the goal, benchmark, or objective the easier it is to measure.  if you have to think too hard about how to measure it, then it isn’t well-written.  If a skill being measured relies on a subjective (thought/feeling) rather than  quantitative (how much) interpretation start again.  Don’t forget to factor in prompts.  This is a pet peeve of mine.  We write a goal, it seems easy to measure, but staff person A has them do the skill and gives them two prompts, while staff B gives them one.  You can’t compare apples and pears.  Put in 1-2 prompts or cues, shooting to reduce them  over time.

There needs to be a progression from quarter to quarter that makes sense.  Can we lower prompts and still expect your child to improve 30%?  Probably not.  Start where you hope to end up, then go backward and break the goal into three more sections.  Brainstorming with others on the team can help you find what makes might be realistic for your son or daughter to achieve.   A week or two before your IEP meeting, ask for proposed (draft) goals from the staff  so there is time to come up with improvements.  You can even brainstorm back and forth by email prior  to the meeting.

Stumped or don’t even know where to start?  Advocates are well-versed in writing goals and can help you learn how