IEP Progress Monitoring and IEP Data Collection are among the most important things about an IEP.

And yet tracking IEP goals is one area that I find parents cannot wrap their heads around it, so it gets neglected.

IEP Progress Monitoring

I am eternally grateful for Michelle and what she has contributed to this blog, including this post about IEP Progress Monitoring.

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The official term, or how IDEA references it, is Progress Monitoring. However, many parents (and school staff) may refer to it as IEP goal tracking.

A mom attempting to track IEP goals and progress monitor, but it's a bunch of papers on the floor.

She has included how to track IEP progress and what IDEA says about IEP Progress Monitoring, and then at the bottom, I have an IEP goal tracking sheet that is free for you to use.

Progress Monitoring IEP Goals

Definition of individualized education program (IEP)… an IEP will include…

(3) A description of—
(i) How the child’s progress toward meeting the annual goals described in paragraph (2) of this section will be measured; and
(ii) When periodic reports on the progress the child is making toward meeting the annual goals (such as through the use of quarterly or other periodic reports, concurrent with the issuance of report cards) will be provided;

https://sites.ed.gov/idea/regs/b/d/300.320

Parents spend a lot of time advocating for appropriate IEP goals for their kids to meet their individual needs. But one area of the IEP process that often gets lost in the shuffle is IEP Progress Monitoring.

What is IEP progress monitoring? Why is progress monitoring toward IEP goals needed? Who is responsible for each IEP goal? How do you progress monitor IEP goals? Are there any IEP progress monitoring tools? Most parents look at the goals and know in their gut that their child isn’t making progress. But they are not sure of what to do about IEP progress monitoring. This article is going to dig into the IEP progress monitoring pieces.

A hand holding an iPad with IEP goal tracking sheets.

IDEA states that each child’s IEP must contain the following:

(3) A description of—

(i) How the child’s progress toward meeting the annual goals described in paragraph (2) of this section will be measured; and

(ii) When periodic reports on the progress the child is making toward meeting the annual goals (such as through the use of quarterly or other periodic reports, concurrent with the issuance of report cards) will be provided…[§300.320(a)(3)]

IDEA Requires Progress Monitoring for IEPs

IDEA requires every IEP to include a statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals. IEP goals should address the needs that result from the child’s disability and enable the child to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum.

As well as meet the child’s other needs that result from the disability.

IDEA states that every IEP will contain the following:

  • a description of how the child’s progress toward the annual goals will be measured.
  • when periodic progress reports will be provided.

Where do IEP goals come from? Writing IEP goals starts with evaluating a child’s identified needs, but it doesn’t end there. An evaluation may identify a specific skill area of need, such as behavior, social skills, reading, math, etc.

A woman is using an iPad for IEP goal tracking.

IEP Present Levels are your Baseline for Progress Monitoring

IDEA also requires a statement of the child’s present academic achievement and functional performance levels. IEP Present Levels should show how the disability affects the child’s involvement and progress in the general education curriculum.

This focuses on the Present Levels of the IEP. Often called a PLAAFP, PLOP, PLEP, or just Present Levels, this is where the IEP begins. And it should be specific. The Present Levels is a summary describing the child’s current achievement and performance in the skill areas affected by the disability as determined by the comprehensive evaluation.

The child’s strengths and weaknesses need to be pinpointed as to what the child can or is unable to perform in the general education curriculum.

IEP Progress Monitoring has to be more than just test scores. Copying a test core from an evaluation, such as a standard score of 76 on Written Expression, will not tell you about that child’s strengths and weaknesses.

Nor will it tell you how the specific skill area impacts a child’s ability in the general education curriculum. Achievement evaluations will also not be able to be repeated at regular intervals for monitoring.

Present Levels are where goals come from and are the foundation for the IEP.

IEP Present Levels can include:

  • skill based assessments
  • benchmark tests
  • classroom performance checklists
  • work samples
  • records review
  • teacher reports
  • Curriculum Based Measurements (CBMs)
  • informal checklists
  • rubrics
  • parent input or parent concerns letter
  • observations  
Keywords: IEP progress monitoring

Modified description: A person using an iPad for IEP progress monitoring.

Curriculum-Based Measurements CBM

CBMs are a scientifically validated form of student progress monitoring. CBMs are used throughout a period of time by probes at frequent intervals.

Goals should be written from the baseline data from the Present Levels.

So as not to make this post longer than it should be, if you have more questions about either topic, please read the links below and then return to this post.

smart IEP goals
Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time Limited.

Why is IEP Progress Monitoring Important?

Ok, this is where many districts fail to see the big picture. From a parent’s perspective, it’s easy to determine why you would want to monitor your child’s progress toward their IEP goals.

But this is important for districts as well!

School districts can get important information to use, such as:

  • assess student outcomes
  • submit mandated state and federal reports
  • in many states, claim Medicaid reimbursements
  • help identify and support requests for additional staffing needs
  • identify professional development gaps
  • Guide the district’s specially designed instruction (SDI) strategies
  • Make decisions about student growth
  • Communicate progress on IEP goals, evaluations, placement
  • Determine the effectiveness of providers, programs, curricula
IEPs have several different sections to help your child succeed.

Progress Monitoring IEP Goals

So what is IEP Progress Monitoring? IEP Progress Monitoring is frequently repeated measurement of performance in a specific area. Progress monitoring is provided to the parent to help them understand how the child is progressing.

But progress monitoring should also be used by the IEP team to make ongoing decisions about any changes or revisions necessary to the child’s IEP.

Focusing on how that goal will be measured is critical in understanding, trusting, and seeing progress. The IEP decisions are based on data, so having objective data that tells the team how a child is progressing is a step that cannot be skipped.

Progress Monitoring Examples

Using IEP Writer (or another software program) is becoming increasingly common to provide IEP progress monitoring reports.

These software programs easily allow IEP teams to reprint a goal, providing a space for the teacher or service provider to list the data and progress toward that goal.

If your school does not provide this information in a format that is easy for you to discern, you may want to consider the free printable IEP goal-tracking sheet I have provided below.

How do you Collect Data for IEP Progress Monitoring?

For every goal, you want to ask the IEP team:

Decide where you want to start and where you want to end up — the baseline and the goal.

  • How will progress be measured? Is this data objective?
  • Who will measure the progress?
  • What will be reported to parents?
  • How often or when will progress be measured?

The same IEP progress monitoring process should be used for the length of the goal.

  • Can this assessment or procedure be repeated at specific intervals? 
  • Was this data just from an observation?
  • Was a checklist or rubric used to take the subjective nature out of the process? 

An IEP should pass a stranger test, and that includes IEP goals. So if a child moves or a new teacher takes over a class, will that teacher be able to measure the progress in the same way? 

Is there a CBM that can measure this progress objectively? Will work samples, checklists, rubrics, and assessment data be shared with parents?

Gather Data, then Refer Back to the Baselines.

Looking back at the baseline data used to write the goal is also important in ensuring the goal is appropriate to target a specific need.

I saw a goal the other day that targeted decoding by measuring comprehension. You cannot compare an apple to an orange.

The specific need being targeted is the same need that should be measured.

IEP teams may find it easier to address this component of the IEP by framing the discussion around specific questions. For example, the IEP team might ask itself these three questions:

  • How will the child’s progress be measured?
  • When will the child’s progress be measured?
  • How well will the child need to perform to achieve his or her stated IEP goals (or benchmarks or objectives)?

The information on how well a child must perform and how his or her progress will be measured is often called evaluation criteria. Well-written evaluation criteria are stated in an objective, measurable terms. It should be objective data. For example, reading X number of sight words on a cold read. And not, “his reading skills have improved.

The data should reflect concrete numbers or scores rather than opinions. And, it should be apples-to-apples data for the entire IEP team to compare to the baselines in Present Levels. 

How Often Should you Monitor IEP Progress?

Another progress monitoring piece to look at is the frequency of the progress reporting. Many schools use quarterly or report cards.

The parent can advocate for more frequent progress monitoring, especially in critical areas. If the school has reported significant behavior or learning disability needs, it may not be appropriate to wait 9 weeks to know if the child is progressing.

If parents don’t address progress monitoring during the IEP meeting while the IEP is being developed, they likely will be very disappointed when progress reports are issued.

Because the reports will lack the progress monitoring that includes actual data to know how the child is progressing, having a goal state observation, teacher-made tests, or a generic statement like “ data collection” is not specific.

IDEA is not definitive about the timing of progress monitoring.

And yes, as an advocate, I have seen IEPs that contain wording that only holds schools accountable for reporting progress (or lack thereof) to parents once a year. 

This is another issue or detail that IDEA leaves up to the states, so double-check yours before approving a final IEP.

Red Flags in Monitoring IEP Goals and Progress

  • Opinions and subjective data are often not accurate. Observations without checklists or rubrics are often not accurate. 
  • Grades are not objective assessments of progress since many factors can influence grades.
  • IEP Goals are written to generalized grade-level standards. Of course, we want to close the gaps for our kids, so IEP goals should be written with grade standards in mind. However, be careful of non-specific goals such as “Johnny will write at 4th-grade level standards.” You want a goal to explain what the 4th-grade standard is, so the expected action is clear to everyone.
  • Another red flag to look for is that goals aren’t measurable. Guessing a mood, feeling or attitude cannot be measurable. 
  • Vague goals are also not going to target specific needs and are often not measurable.
  • Another red flag is when an IEP Goal does not have baseline data. You must know where the child currently is in their performance or achievement to be realistic about where you want them to end up.
  • Also, be aware of skipping steps. While parents may want to advocate for specific services, special education services directly relate to the needs described in the Present Levels and goals.

So coming full circle, measuring a child’s progress toward goals begins at the present levels.

If a child’s Present Levels are incomplete or inaccurate, the IEP cannot have meaningful, measurable goals. And without decent goals, you will not have appropriate support and services or decent IEP progress monitoring.

The above post on IEP Progress Monitoring is from one of my favorite advocates–Michelle Tilly. Thanks so much, Michelle!

Below I (Lisa) will add the spreadsheet we have to share.

IEP Progress Monitoring Spreadsheet

Here on the blog, we have an IEP Goal Tracking Worksheet.

Remember that IDEA says that schools must provide progress monitoring data to parents. It does not say how they must provide it, or how often.

You may wish to use these IEP Goal Tracking Sheets to make monitoring progress easier.

It is a form of Progress Monitoring, but may not be as detailed as what some parents are looking for.

Understanding IEP Progress Monitoring

IEP progress monitoring is an essential part of the special education process. It is a way to measure a student’s progress towards their individualized education plan (IEP) goals.

Progress monitoring helps to ensure that the student is making meaningful progress towards their goals and receiving the appropriate level of support.

IEP progress monitoring involves tracking a student’s progress in specific areas, such as academic skills, social skills, and behavioral goals. The IEP team determines how progress will be measured and how often it will be reported to parents.

Progress monitoring can be done using a variety of methods, such as standardized tests, observations, and work samples.

One of the key benefits of IEP progress monitoring is that it allows parents and teachers to adjust the student’s education plan if necessary. If a student is not making progress towards their goals, the IEP team can review the plan and make changes to better support the student.

This ensures that the student is receiving the appropriate level of support and has the best chance of success.

It is important to note that progress monitoring is the responsibility of the entire IEP team, not just the teacher. Each member of the team has a role to play in monitoring progress and ensuring that the student is making meaningful progress towards their goals.

This includes the parents, special education teacher, general education teacher, and any other service providers involved in the student’s education.

Do you know what your IEP rights are?
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Overall, IEP progress monitoring is a critical part of the special education process. It helps to ensure that students are receiving the appropriate level of support and making meaningful progress towards their goals.

By working together as a team and regularly monitoring progress, students with disabilities can achieve success in school and beyond.

Key Components of IEP Progress Monitoring

Progress monitoring is an essential component of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) that helps to ensure that students with disabilities receive appropriate educational services tailored to their specific needs.

Effective progress monitoring requires the IEP team to establish clear goals, collect relevant data, and analyze and interpret the data to determine whether the student is making progress towards the stated goals.

In this section, we will discuss the key components of IEP progress monitoring.

Goal Setting

The first step in IEP progress monitoring is to establish measurable goals that are specific, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. The goals should be based on the student’s present level of academic achievement and functional performance, and should be aligned with state academic standards.

The IEP team should work collaboratively to develop goals that are challenging but realistic, and that address the student’s areas of need.

The goals should be written in a clear and concise manner, and should specify the criteria for success. The IEP team should also determine how progress towards the goals will be measured and reported to parents and other stakeholders.

This may include the use of formal assessments, informal observations, and progress reports.

Data Collection

Once the goals have been established, the next step is to collect relevant data to determine whether the student is making progress towards the stated goals.

Data collection may include the use of formal assessments, such as standardized tests or curriculum-based assessments, as well as informal observations and work samples.

The IEP team should determine the frequency and method of data collection, and should ensure that the data collected is accurate and reliable.

The data should be collected in a consistent manner over time, and should be recorded in a systematic and organized manner.

Analysis and Interpretation

The final step in IEP progress monitoring is to analyze and interpret the data to determine whether the student is making progress towards the stated goals.

The IEP team should review the data collected and compare it to the criteria for success established in the goal setting process.

If the student is making progress towards the stated goals, the IEP team should consider whether any adjustments are needed to the instructional strategies or services provided.

If the student is not making progress, the IEP team should consider whether alternative strategies or services are needed to better support the student’s learning.

In conclusion, effective progress monitoring is essential to ensure that students with disabilities receive appropriate educational services tailored to their specific needs. The key components of IEP progress monitoring include goal setting, data collection, and analysis and interpretation.

By following these key components, the IEP team can ensure that the student is making progress towards the stated goals and receiving the support needed to succeed.

Role of Teachers in IEP Progress Monitoring

Teachers play a vital role in ensuring the success of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) by monitoring the progress of students towards their goals. Here are some ways teachers can contribute to IEP progress monitoring:

1. Collecting Data

Teachers collect data on student progress using a variety of methods such as observation, tests, and assignments. They use this data to determine if the student is making progress towards their IEP goals and to identify any areas where the student may need additional support.

2. Analyzing Data

Once data is collected, teachers analyze it to determine if the student is making progress towards their goals. They use this information to adjust their teaching strategies and interventions to better support the student’s progress.

3. Reporting Progress

Teachers are responsible for reporting progress to parents and other members of the IEP team. They use data collected to provide specific information about a student’s progress towards their goals and any areas where they may need additional support.

4. Collaborating with Other Professionals

Teachers work closely with other professionals, such as speech therapists, occupational therapists, and counselors, to ensure that the student is receiving the support they need to meet their IEP goals. They collaborate to share data and develop strategies that will help the student make progress.

In summary, teachers play a crucial role in IEP progress monitoring. They collect and analyze data, report progress, and collaborate with other professionals to ensure that the student is receiving the support they need to succeed.

Role of Parents in IEP Progress Monitoring

Parents play a crucial role in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) progress monitoring process. By monitoring their child’s progress, parents can ensure that their child is receiving the appropriate services and making progress towards their goals. Here are some ways parents can be involved in the IEP progress monitoring process:

1. Understand the IEP Goals

Parents should familiarize themselves with their child’s IEP goals and objectives to ensure that they are measurable, specific, and achievable. They should also understand the services their child should receive and how those services will help their child achieve their goals.

2. Collaborate with Teachers

Parents should work closely with their child’s teachers to monitor their child’s progress towards their goals. This can involve regular communication with teachers to discuss their child’s progress, attending parent-teacher conferences, and providing feedback on their child’s performance.

3. Keep Track of Progress

Parents should keep track of their child’s progress towards their goals by collecting data and evidence of their child’s performance. This can include work samples, progress reports, and assessments. By keeping track of their child’s progress, parents can identify areas where their child may need additional support and services.

4. Advocate for Their Child

Parents should advocate for their child’s needs and ensure that their child is receiving the appropriate services and accommodations. This can involve working with the school to modify their child’s IEP goals or services as needed, and advocating for their child’s rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Parents play a critical role in the IEP progress monitoring process. By understanding their child’s goals, collaborating with teachers, keeping track of progress, and advocating for their child’s needs, parents can ensure that their child is receiving the appropriate services and making progress towards their goals.

Techniques for Effective IEP Progress Monitoring

When it comes to monitoring the progress of Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals, there are several techniques that can be used to ensure that students are making progress and receiving the support they need. Here are a few effective techniques for monitoring IEP progress:

Use of Technology

Technology can be a powerful tool for monitoring IEP progress. There are a variety of apps and software programs that can be used to track student progress towards IEP goals.

These tools can help educators and parents monitor progress in real-time, identify areas where additional support is needed, and make adjustments to the IEP as necessary.

Consistent Feedback

Providing consistent feedback is essential for effective IEP progress monitoring. Teachers and parents should communicate regularly about a student’s progress towards IEP goals. This feedback should be specific, measurable, and tied to the goals outlined in the IEP.

One way to provide consistent feedback is through the use of progress reports. Progress reports can be sent home to parents on a regular basis to update them on their child’s progress towards IEP goals. These reports should include specific examples of progress made, as well as any areas where additional support may be needed.

Regular Reviews

Regular reviews of IEP goals are essential for ensuring that students are making progress and receiving the support they need. IEP goals should be reviewed at least once per quarter, or more frequently if necessary.

During these reviews, teachers and parents should discuss progress towards goals, identify any areas where additional support is needed, and make adjustments to the IEP as necessary.

One effective way to conduct regular reviews is through the use of data tracking sheets. These sheets can be used to track progress towards IEP goals, as well as identify any areas where additional support may be needed.

Data tracking sheets can also be used to identify patterns or trends in a student’s progress over time.

Effective IEP progress monitoring requires a combination of tools, feedback, and regular reviews. By using these techniques, educators and parents can ensure that students are making progress towards their goals and receiving the support they need to succeed.

Challenges in IEP Progress Monitoring

While progress monitoring is an essential part of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process, it can also present various challenges.

Here are some of the common issues that educators face when monitoring IEP progress:

Lack of Clarity in Goals

One of the most significant challenges in IEP progress monitoring is the lack of clarity in goals. Goals that are not specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) can be difficult to monitor.

When goals are not clear, it can be challenging to determine if a student is making progress or not. As a result, it is crucial to ensure that goals are well-defined and measurable.

Inconsistent Data Collection

Another challenge in IEP progress monitoring is inconsistent data collection. Collecting data in a consistent and reliable way is critical to accurately monitoring progress.

However, inconsistent data collection can lead to inaccurate progress monitoring and can make it difficult to determine if a student is making progress or not.

Limited Resources

Limited resources can also present a challenge in IEP progress monitoring. Schools may not have the resources necessary to implement effective progress monitoring strategies, such as frequent data collection and analysis. As a result, educators may struggle to accurately monitor progress and make informed instructional decisions.

Lack of Training

Finally, a lack of training can also be a challenge in IEP progress monitoring. Educators may not have the necessary knowledge and skills to implement effective progress monitoring strategies.

Without proper training, progress monitoring can be challenging, and educators may struggle to accurately monitor progress and make informed instructional decisions.

IEP progress monitoring can present various challenges. However, by addressing these challenges and implementing effective progress monitoring strategies, educators can ensure that students are making progress towards their goals and receiving the support they need to succeed.

Strategies to Overcome Challenges

Monitoring IEP progress can sometimes be challenging. However, there are strategies that can be implemented to help overcome these challenges.

One of the main challenges is collecting accurate and reliable data. To overcome this challenge, it is important to ensure that the data collection method is appropriate for the goal being measured. The IEP team should also ensure that all data collectors are trained and understand the data collection process.

Another challenge is ensuring that progress monitoring is conducted frequently enough. To overcome this challenge, the IEP team should establish a schedule for progress monitoring that is appropriate for the goal being measured. Additionally, the team should ensure that progress monitoring data is collected and analyzed frequently enough to allow for timely adjustments to the student’s program.

Sometimes, behavioral challenges can make it difficult to accurately measure progress. In these cases, it may be necessary to use additional strategies to overcome this challenge. For example, the IEP team may need to use a combination of direct observation, data collection, and other assessment methods.

Finally, it is important to ensure that progress monitoring is communicated effectively to all stakeholders, including parents and other members of the IEP team. To achieve this, the team should establish clear lines of communication and provide regular updates on progress.

By implementing these strategies, the IEP team can overcome many of the challenges associated with progress monitoring and ensure that students are making meaningful progress towards their goals.

IEP Progress Monitoring Tools

Progress monitoring is an essential part of the IEP process. There are various tools available to monitor and track the progress of IEP goals. Here are some of the commonly used IEP progress monitoring tools:

1. Data Collection Sheets

Data collection sheets are a simple yet effective tool for monitoring progress towards IEP goals. They can be customized to track specific goals and can be used by teachers, parents, and therapists. The data collected can be used to identify trends and patterns in the student’s progress and to make informed decisions about the need for modifications to the IEP.

2. Rubrics

Rubrics are a tool that can be used to measure progress towards specific goals. They provide a clear and objective way to assess a student’s progress and can be used to provide feedback to the student and to adjust instruction. Rubrics can be created for academic and behavioral goals and can be used by teachers, parents, and therapists.

3. Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM)

CBM is a standardized tool that can be used to monitor progress towards academic goals. It involves frequent and brief assessments of a student’s skills in a specific area, such as reading or math. The data collected can be used to identify areas of strength and weakness and to make informed decisions about the need for modifications to the IEP.

4. Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS)

GAS is a tool that can be used to measure progress towards individualized goals. It involves setting specific goals and determining the level of progress needed to achieve them. The progress is then measured on a scale from 0 to 10, with 10 indicating that the goal has been fully achieved. GAS can be used by teachers, parents, and therapists to monitor progress towards specific goals and to adjust instruction as needed.

Overall, the key to effective progress monitoring is selecting the right tool for the specific goal and student. It is important to involve all members of the IEP team in the selection and use of progress monitoring tools to ensure that the data collected is accurate and meaningful.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of progress monitoring in an IEP?

Progress monitoring is a critical component of an Individualized Education Program (IEP). It allows teachers and parents to assess how well a student is progressing towards their goals and objectives. Regular progress monitoring helps to ensure that the student is on track to achieve their goals and provides an opportunity to make adjustments to the IEP if necessary.

What are some effective methods for tracking IEP progress?

There are several effective methods for tracking IEP progress, including:

  • Collecting data through classwork and homework assignments
  • Administering assessments to measure progress towards IEP goals
  • Conducting observations of the student’s behavior and academic performance
  • Using technology-based tools such as online progress monitoring systems

Can progress monitoring be done in Google Sheets for IEPs?

Yes, Google Sheets can be a useful tool for progress monitoring in IEPs. Teachers can create spreadsheets to track student progress towards their goals, record data, and analyze trends over time. Google Sheets also allows for easy collaboration between teachers and parents, which can help ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the student’s progress.

What are the requirements for quarterly IEP progress reports?

According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), schools must provide parents with regular progress reports that detail their child’s progress towards their IEP goals. These reports must be provided at least as often as parents of non-disabled children receive progress reports. For most schools, this means quarterly progress reports.

What are some examples of IEP progress report comments?

Examples of IEP progress report comments might include:

  • Johnny has made significant progress towards his math goals this quarter. He has demonstrated an understanding of basic addition and subtraction concepts and is consistently applying these skills in class.”
  • Samantha has shown improvement in her social skills this quarter. She is initiating conversations with her peers and participating in group activities more frequently.”
  • “While David has made some progress towards his reading goals, he continues to struggle with decoding unfamiliar words. We will be providing additional support in this area to help him make further progress.”

How can IEP goal tracking help with progress monitoring?

IEP goal tracking is an essential component of progress monitoring. By tracking progress towards specific goals, teachers and parents can identify areas where the student may be struggling and adjust the IEP as needed.

Goal tracking also provides a clear picture of the student’s progress over time, which can help inform decisions about future goals and objectives.

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