Inside: Learn how to understand and troubleshoot an IEP if the child is repeatedly not meeting IEP goals. And, Proving IEP Goals Were not Developed or Made with Fidelity.

Ah, progress monitoring. I find it to be one of the most difficult areas of the IEP, as it pertains to parents. First, the data you receive usually isn’t that frequent. Most IEPs say you’ll receive data 3-4 times a year, tops. So, proving IEP goals were not developed or made with fidelity seems like a challenge.

Then, when you do receive the IEP progress monitoring data, most parents (myself included, sometimes!) read the report and toss it aside. If the IEP goal is not included in the progress monitoring report, how many of us actually go dig out our IEPs to compare it? Not many.

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If IEP goals are not met, you want to bring it up at your IEP Meeting.

And then, find yourself preparing for another annual IEP meeting and realize that your child is not meeting their IEP goals. So what do you do?

Read: When do IEP Minutes have to be made up?

What happens if your child does not meet their IEP goals?

First of all, shameless plug and side note. Tracking IEP goals can be difficult. Goals ‘disappear’ from IEPs from year to year. It’s difficult to remember everything that transpired in the past year.

However, I have created a system to help parents monitor their IEP and goals. And it’s really cheap.

That can certainly help you monitor problems in the future. But, let’s deal with the here and now.

IEP Papers on folder
Proving IEP Goals Were not Developed or Made with Fidelity is not too hard if the goals are poorly written.

Proving IEP Goals Were not Developed or Made with Fidelity

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a document developed for students with disabilities that outlines their educational goals, accommodations, and support services.

Developing an IEP requires collaboration between parents, educators, and other professionals, and the goals included in the IEP should be specific, measurable, and achievable.

However, in some cases, it may become apparent that IEP goals were not developed or made with fidelity. This can occur when the goals are not aligned with the student’s needs or abilities, when the goals are not specific or measurable, or when the goals are not being implemented consistently or effectively.

Proving that IEP goals were not developed or made with fidelity requires a thorough understanding of the IEP process, as well as documentation and evidence to support any claims.

There are several steps that can be taken to demonstrate that IEP goals were not developed or made with fidelity:

  1. Review the IEP: The first step in determining whether IEP goals were developed with fidelity is to review the IEP itself. Look closely at the goals included in the IEP and ask questions such as: Are the goals specific and measurable? Are they based on the student’s needs and abilities? Are they realistic and achievable? If any of the goals appear vague or unclear, or if they do not align with the student’s needs or abilities, this may be evidence that the goals were not developed with fidelity.
  2. Observe the student: One of the best ways to determine whether IEP goals are being implemented with fidelity is to observe the student in the classroom. Observe the student’s behavior and performance during academic and non-academic activities, and take notes on how the student is progressing towards their IEP goals. Look for any discrepancies between the goals outlined in the IEP and the student’s actual performance or behavior. If there is a mismatch, this may be evidence that the goals were not developed with fidelity.
  3. Collect data: Data collection is a critical component of the IEP process, and it can also be used to demonstrate whether IEP goals were developed with fidelity. Collect data on the student’s progress toward their goals, using specific and measurable criteria. Compare the data collected to the goals outlined in the IEP, and look for any discrepancies. If the data shows that the student is not making progress toward their goals, this may be evidence that the goals were not developed with fidelity.
  4. Document conversations and meetings: Throughout the IEP process, it is important to document all conversations and meetings that take place between parents, educators, and other professionals. If there are any concerns about the development or implementation of the IEP goals, document these concerns and any actions taken to address them. This documentation can be used as evidence to support any claims that the IEP goals were not developed with fidelity.
  5. Seek expert opinions: In some cases, it may be necessary to seek the opinions of outside experts to demonstrate that IEP goals were not developed with fidelity. For example, a psychologist or other professional may be able to provide an evaluation of the student’s abilities and needs and compare this to the goals outlined in the IEP. This can help to demonstrate whether the goals were appropriate and achievable.

My Child did not Meet IEP Goals

First, ok, not teacher bashing. Please don’t accuse me as such. But this is an area where I find that schools really drop the ball. Because it should come as a surprise to no one at annual IEP time, that a child is not going to achieve the goals.

If a team is gathering data throughout the school year, and using the progress monitoring in place, then they would see that the child is not on track to meet the goals. And, they would call a team meeting to revise the IEP. Because that is what is supposed to happen.

And it rarely does. Many times the team doesn’t even discuss this and just puts the same goals on the IEP for the next year.

So, whether we like it or not, the onus is on parents to keep track of it. (and again, consider the IEP Toolkit)

An IEP goal that is not met gives me lots of information. It tells me three things.

  1. Perhaps that goal was inappropriate for the child.
  2. The goal was chosen based on faulty or incomplete data.
  3. Supports and services that are in place to help the child achieve that goal are insufficient.
  4. Supports and services that are in place to help the child achieve that goal are not being administered with fidelity.

Not Making Progress on IEP Goals

Remember, an unmet IEP goal does not automatically mean that the child did not make progress.

As a parent, you have to think about this and decide which one you think it is. And then you request a meeting to ask for IEP evaluations, revised IEP goals, or revised IEP SDIs.

Questions Parents Should Ask

  • Have all the areas of need been identified by evaluations?
  • Are the current present levels used to write those goals accurate? Read your Present Levels section of the IEP and request IEP evaluations if necessary.
  • Were the goals appropriate based on expected progress in a year? None of us has a crystal ball, but you know your child best.
  • Are the services appropriate in type and amount? Ask for a phone call with your child’s service provider in this area. Get their opinion.
  • Were the services implemented as they were supposed to? You may need to implement a home-school communication log to facilitate this.
  • Was the program/curriculum they used evidence-based and was it implemented with fidelity? Ask what they are using. They look it up online to see what the publisher’s protocol is.
  • Also consider other factors like illness, attendance, placement, behavior, etc.

Whatever answers you come up with for your child will dictate how you should proceed.

Not Meeting Goals is not an Automatic Violation of an IEP.

This came up the other day in our Facebook group. A child is not meeting IEP goals which then resulted in lots of “File a complaint!” from parents.

A goal not met doesn’t automatically signal that a child was denied FAPE. However, it should trigger a thorough investigation as to why a goal wasn’t met and what should be done next.

You might find that the lack of progress is due to the school not following the IEP. If that is the case, by all means, file an IEP complaint of some kind.

And, you may want to file an IEP complaint based on insufficient progress monitoring. Or, it may just be that the team is trying, but that you need to reconvene and discuss new strategies and supports, because what is in place is not working.

Good luck and join the Facebook group if you have more questions.

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