Three Steps to Better IEP Goals

Three Steps to Better IEP Goals

Clear and measurable goals are the key to a successful IEP. Here are three steps to assure better goals in your child’s IEP.

1. Understand Your Child’s Current Functioning

Review your child’s homework and tests to compare his work with grade level content standards. (In California, the Department of Education publishes grade level curriculum standards on its website; the CARS+ handbook, available online, converts content standards into goals and objectives.) Give a copy of the current and prior year’s standards to your child’s teacher and ask them to identify those not yet met. This provides valuable guidance for the areas that still require goals and objectives.

2. Get A Report On The Progress On The Previous Year’s Goal

At each annual IEP meeting, the school district is required to report progress on the previous year’s goals. Review the previ- ous year’s goals and request that progress be reported in the same way the goals were written. For example, if a goal provides that the student will read a passage with 80% comprehension, make sure the progress is reported in terms of percentage achieved, not just a general statement of “good progress.” Also, make sure you see the evidence on which the determination was based, such as work samples.

3. Understand How Progress on The New Goals Will Be Demonstrated

Measuring goals can be confusing, and it is important to understand how progress will be determined. Make sure that the goal is clear and does not include too many elements. For example, a goal that the student will “initiate and respond to peers and adults individually and in groups” is too complicated. Also, make sure you understand what a proposed measurement means. For example, a goal of “80% success in 3 out of 4 trials” could mean 80% success in 3 trials and none in the fourth; an average of 80% success over four trials; or 100% success in 3 out of 4 trials!

Understand and agree on how progress will be demonstrated. Teacher observation is subjective as com- pared with data collection. Ask questions until you understand what is required for the goals to be met.

[CARS+, the organization mentioned in the article above, is the California Association of Resource Specialists. They make available several items of interest at

Their Handbook is published on CD. Single copies are $50-, and steep bulk discounts are available.

The CARS+ CD of Secondary Transition Goals, addressing self-determination and advocacy; awareness; career preparation; work experience; and community experience and success is $20-.


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