I don’t want that IEP goal.

I know I’ve told the story several times. The story of my first IEP meeting with my school district. Kevin was 4 and we were meeting about possible kindergarten transition. The overall meeting was one of the worst I’ve ever experienced.

So much wrong with it from start to finish. That IEP Coordinator tapped a sleeping bear because while I had taken a course on How to Become a Special Education Advocate, I hadn’t yet decided to make it a profession. Her actions that day changed that. One of the things she said to me was, “I appreciate all your input today, Mrs. Lightner. But we are not going to be making any changes to this IEP.

That was just one of many things that happened during that meeting.

But another one was that the proposed goals were nothing short of ridiculous.

I had an almost kindergartener who could not talk. He could not run at the time. Still can’t actually. And he was growing bigger and it was becoming harder for me to lift him everywhere I needed to lift him. Like the bathtub, car seat and so on.

He had most of his diagnoses at that time and had already scored a 1% on the Vineland. The Vineland is a functional skills assessment, and basically what a 1% means is that he can only do about 1% of the functional skills that his same-aged peers could do.

Unnecessary IEP Goals

Anyway, so here we were, discussing his evaluations and new proposed IEP goals.

And one of his PT goals was that he would be able to do a standing jump 3 times. I’m guessing that most of you could do that, right? Stand up. Now jump 3 times. Seems simple enough. However, he could not do that. (And for the record, still can’t.)

But it made no sense to me. He couldn’t climb in or out of his booster chair at the dinner table. Or his car seat or playground equipment. I didn’t see any value in being able to stand up and jump 3x.

I asked for reasoning, and whatever they said at the time was very weak. Something about it being a transferable skill and that once he could jump 3x, he’d then be able to do other things. I was skeptical.

Anyway, I ended up rejecting that entire IEP because it was garbage. But what do you do if there is one IEP goal that you really don’t want?

Meaningful IEP Goals

I’ve written a bunch post about developing IEP goals. Good goals have to be measurable. They should be related to your child’s areas of need. But they also need to be meaningful.

Yes, my son has poor core strength and motor planning, which results in not being able to jump. But being able to jump was not meaningful to us.

Full Parent Participation

As I nag all the time, IEP parents need to make sure that they are participating in these 5 parts of the IEP process. That’s your starting point. If you are participating and the team is valuing you as an equal member, it’s unlikely that you’ll end up with crappy IEP goals. As part of the process, you and your child will be able to tell the team what is a priority for you.

Your IEP needs to be collaborative, not directive.

You should be writing a kick-ass Parent Concerns Letter for your IEP.

When you Disagree with your IEP team.

There are several things you can do if you see goals on your child’s IEP that you just do not want. Of course, it is going to depend on the situation and when you were given this information.

During IEP Development: You should be participating in the 5 parts above. Make sure that the team is aware of your priorities and don’t be afraid to suggest goals for your child. Make sure that they address an area of need listed in present levels. I even have a huge IEP goal bank for you to peruse and get ideas.

Before the meeting: If you saw a draft IEP and this is a concern, take notes. Have alternatives. Ask for clarification; perhaps there is value in the goal that you just did not see.

During the meeting: Talk about it. Tell them that upon initially reading this goal, you do not think that it is a meaningful or appropriate goal. If you don’t have any data or ideas right there on the spot, follow up after the meeting.

After the meeting: Learn and use the PWN. Or, decide if this is worth fighting for.

Our time and our school resources are limited. So let’s not waste time on our kids that we don’t think has value. 8 years later, my child still cannot jump three times. But that’s ok. Because he can climb in and out of my minivan, the bathtub, and his Rifton chair.

And that’s meaningful.