For as long as I’ve been attending IEP meetings, one thing that continues to baffle me is reading. Basic reading skills are just that–basics. The foundation. The pre skills.

And yet time and again, I find that IEP teams shy away from basic reading skills IEP goals even when it’s obvious that the child has not mastered this.

A young child lying on their stomach on a cushioned surface, smiling while looking at an open picture book to improve Basic Reading Skills, with a plush toy nearby.

Yes, common core standards and grade level are considerations when developing IEP goals. But, if the child lacks the foundational skills, they will not become a proficient reader.

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I often use the analogy of Mt. Everest. If you fly me over there and put me at the base of Mt. Everest, I cannot climb it. I probably would die. Just because I am there, does not mean I can do it.

I don’t have the foundational skills or the training to climb Mt. Everest.

Think of reading the same way–just presenting the material to kids does not mean they can do it or learn it. Putting reading goals on an IEP does not mean the child can achieve them if they do not have the pre skills and the conditioning to get there.

If a child cannot decode, then they cannot develop comprehension skills. It’s really quite simple, yet for some reason I find it difficult for IEP teams to work on the basics before moving on. Or, even assess the child for all areas of reading.

Basic reading skills encompass decoding, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. In this article, I will delve into understanding basic reading skills, the evaluation process, crafting Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals, and tracking progress.

A person with curly hair focused intently on reading a book to meet their Reading Skills IEP Goals.

What are Basic Reading skills?

Basic reading skills are fundamental abilities that individuals develop to comprehend written text. These skills are typically acquired during early childhood and are essential for success in academic and professional settings. Some basic reading skills include:

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  1. Phonemic awareness: Understanding that words are made up of individual sounds, or phonemes, and being able to manipulate these sounds within words.
  2. Phonics: Understanding the relationship between letters and sounds, and being able to use this knowledge to decode words while reading.
  3. Vocabulary: Knowing the meanings of words and being able to recognize them in written text.
  4. Fluency: Reading smoothly and accurately, with appropriate speed and expression.
  5. Comprehension: Understanding the meaning of written text, including the main idea, supporting details, and inferred meanings.
  6. Decoding: Applying phonics skills to recognize and sound out unfamiliar words.
  7. Sight word recognition: Recognizing high-frequency words automatically, without needing to sound them out.
  8. Contextual clues: Using surrounding text or images to help understand the meaning of unfamiliar words or phrases.
  9. Predictive skills: Making predictions about what will happen next in a text based on prior knowledge and clues from the text.
  10. Active reading strategies: Engaging with the text by asking questions, making connections, and summarizing key points to enhance understanding.

These skills form the foundation for more advanced reading abilities and are critical for lifelong learning and success in various aspects of life. It’s also worth noting that some of these skills necessary to learn how to read require other skills, such as executive functioning.

Working memory is required for many of the above, as an example.

A struggling reader may have a lot going on–it might be an issue of focus and attention due to something like ADHD, or it might be dyslexia or executive function disorder.

If you are a parent reading this, you really need to dig in, learn all of it and make sure your child is accurately assessed and has all the necessary interventions.

I’m not knocking schools or teachers, but in many cases I see struggling readers receive interventions like “90 minutes of pull out to the resource room” with a reading specialist.

In most states, a reading specialist by definition, is a general education teacher. The student requires special education if they have a learning disability.

A child intently practicing basic reading skills by reading a book while surrounded by other children, possibly at a school event or assembly focused on IEP goals.

Who Evaluates Basic Reading Skills

This is not something you will find in IDEA or any state regulations, to my knowledge.

The evaluation of basic reading skills typically falls under the purview of educational professionals, including:

  1. Teachers: Classroom teachers often conduct informal assessments to gauge students’ reading abilities through observations, reading logs, and one-on-one interactions.
  2. Special Education Specialists: For children with learning disabilities or special needs, special education professionals may conduct more formal assessments to identify specific challenges and strengths.
  3. School Psychologists: Psychologists may administer standardized tests to evaluate a child’s reading proficiency and identify any underlying cognitive or developmental issues.
A smiling woman and a young girl with glasses, both working on achieving their IEP Goals, are posing together in front of a bookshelf.

Crafting IEP Goals and Objectives for Basic Reading Skills

Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) are tailored plans designed to address the unique needs of students with disabilities or learning difficulties.

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Also read: 20 IEP Goals for Low Functioning Students

When it comes to basic reading skills, IEP goals and objectives may include:

  1. Decoding Skills:
    • By [specific date], the student will correctly decode [number] out of [number] given words with [specific phonetic pattern].
    • The student will use decoding strategies such as chunking or sounding out unfamiliar words independently in [percentage]% of opportunities.
  2. Fluency:
    • The student will read [number] words per minute with [percentage]% accuracy on grade-level passages by [specific date].
    • By the end of the academic year, the student will demonstrate increased expression and intonation while reading aloud.
  3. Vocabulary Development:
    • The student will increase their sight word vocabulary from [current number] to [target number] words by [specific date].
    • The student will use context clues to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words in text with [percentage]% accuracy.
  4. Comprehension:
    • The student will identify the main idea and supporting details in a passage with [percentage]% accuracy.
    • By [specific date], the student will use comprehension strategies such as summarizing, predicting, and visualizing to enhance understanding.

Basic Reading Skills IEP Goals

Please note that if you scroll down, you will find links to other lists of IEP goals where I have more options. Such as I have a post just for Vocabulary IEP goals and Decoding IEP goals, as well as reading comprehension IEP goals.

Here are two Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals corresponding to each of the ten reading skills listed above.

  1. Phonemic Awareness: a. By the end of the school year, when presented with three-sound words (e.g., “cat”), the student will be able to orally segment and blend the sounds with 80% accuracy as measured by teacher observation and informal assessments. b. By the end of each quarter, the student will demonstrate proficiency in identifying and producing rhyming words in a set of given words with at least 90% accuracy on three out of four opportunities.
  2. Phonics: a. By the end of the semester, when given a list of common consonant blends (e.g., “bl,” “br,” “st”), the student will correctly decode words containing these blends in isolation with 85% accuracy during teacher-administered assessments. b. Given a passage at the appropriate reading level, the student will decode multisyllabic words using knowledge of phonics rules and patterns with at least 80% accuracy as measured by teacher observations and running records.
  3. Vocabulary: a. By the end of the school year, the student will expand their receptive and expressive vocabulary by learning and correctly using at least 50 new grade-appropriate words in written and oral communication. b. When presented with unfamiliar words in context, the student will use context clues and prior knowledge to determine the meaning of the word with 80% accuracy in teacher-designed activities.
  4. Fluency: a. By the end of each quarter, the student will increase their reading fluency rate by 20 words per minute from baseline, as measured by timed readings of grade-level passages. b. The student will practice reading aloud for at least 15 minutes daily using texts at their instructional level to improve oral reading fluency and expression.
  5. Comprehension: a. When given a short passage, the student will identify the main idea and at least three supporting details with 80% accuracy on teacher-created comprehension quizzes. b. By the end of the semester, the student will demonstrate the ability to make inferences and draw conclusions from texts by correctly answering inferential questions with 75% accuracy on written assessments.
  6. Decoding: a. Given a list of common prefixes and suffixes, the student will decode and correctly read words containing these affixes with at least 90% accuracy during teacher-led activities and assessments. b. When presented with unfamiliar words, the student will apply phonics skills to segment the word into syllables and decode it accurately with 85% accuracy in reading tasks.
  7. Sight Word Recognition: a. The student will learn and master a set of 50 high-frequency sight words, demonstrating automatic recognition in isolation and within context with at least 90% accuracy on weekly assessments. b. Given a grade-appropriate passage, the student will identify and read high-frequency sight words accurately and fluently within the text with at least 95% accuracy.
  8. Contextual Clues: a. When encountering unfamiliar vocabulary in text, the student will use surrounding context clues to determine the meaning of the word with at least 80% accuracy on teacher-designed worksheets. b. The student will participate in guided reading activities where they practice using context clues to predict the meaning of unfamiliar words with 75% accuracy as measured by teacher observation and discussions.
  9. Predictive Skills: a. By the end of the quarter, the student will demonstrate improved predictive reading skills by accurately predicting outcomes or events in a story based on textual clues with 70% accuracy during teacher-led discussions and written responses. b. During guided reading sessions, the student will make predictions about the content of the text before reading and evaluate the accuracy of their predictions after reading, achieving at least 80% accuracy in their predictions.
  10. Active Reading Strategies: a. The student will use graphic organizers, such as story maps or KWL charts, to actively engage with texts by identifying key elements before, during, and after reading with 90% accuracy as measured by teacher observation and completed graphic organizers. b. When reading independently, the student will employ active reading strategies, such as asking questions, making connections, and summarizing key points, to enhance comprehension and demonstrate understanding through written or oral responses with at least 80% accuracy.

Measuring Progress of Basic Reading Skills

Monitoring progress is crucial to ensure that interventions are effective and that students are making meaningful gains in their basic reading skills. Several methods can be employed:

  1. Regular Assessments: Teachers can administer periodic assessments, such as fluency probes, comprehension quizzes, or vocabulary tests, to track growth over time.
  2. IEP Data Collection: Keeping detailed records of students’ performance on various reading tasks allows educators to identify trends, strengths, and areas needing improvement.
  3. Observations: Teachers can observe students during reading activities to assess their use of strategies, decoding skills, and comprehension abilities in real-time.
  4. Portfolio Review: Maintaining portfolios of students’ work, including samples of reading passages, written responses, and self-assessments, provides a holistic view of progress.

If you are unhappy with your child’s progress or think their reading interventions are not sufficient, there is a lot more information on this website about that. Everything from requesting an IEE and how to dig into your IEP present levels and write a solid IEP parent concerns letter.

Good luck and here are those other posts.

Reading and Writing IEP Goals

More on Reading and Literacy for Students

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