How to Write IEP Goals.
IEP goals are the future. IEP Present Levels is where the child is now; goals are where we want them to be. Writing IEP goals, while based on data, is part art, part science. It’s also something I find that many educators are not prepared for or trained in. Colleges tend to be more focused on pedagogy than the IEP process when it comes to special education. And many college professors haven’t been in an IEP meeting in decades, if ever.
Hence, there is a huge disconnect between college degrees in Special Education, and what really happens day-to-day. (If you wish to listen to the podcast instead of reading this, scroll down)
Writing Good IEP Goals
Writing good IEP goals starts with the SMART formula. I have a goal creating formula below. But, your IEP goals should all meet the following criteria.
Who writes IEP goals?
IDEA does not define this. Like everything else in the IEP, IEP goals are a team decision. Teams usually farm out the duties to whoever oversees that discipline. IE- the Occupational Therapist writes the OT goal. The PT writes the PT goal and so on.
Or, don’t be afraid to contact the specific person ahead of time via email. A simple, “Dear speech therapist, Child’s annual IEP is in 3 months, and I was reviewing his existing IEP. Last year the goal was XYZ, how do you feel about adding or changing it to ABC, because…(and list your reasons).”
IEP development should be an ongoing process that includes open communication.
How to Write Goals and Objectives for an IEP.
How to Write IEP Goals and Objectives
- Determine baselines for performance.
Baselines are what the child is doing now. This should be accurately and thoroughly described in IEP Present Levels.
- List the areas of need that are a priority for the entire IEP team.
This includes the parents!
- Write goals using the SMART IEP goal formula.
- Review the list with IEP team members.
It’s perfectly ok for team members to contact the parent during IEP development. They can give feedback on specific goals.
- Be a copycat.
No need to spend countless hours writing goals from scratch if what you need exists online. As long as it is individualized to the student and meets the SMART criteria, use it! (plenty of links below!)
- Add in specific objectives if appropriate.
Think of objectives as parts or steps toward a goal. I’ve given specific examples below.
Books of IEP Goals
I have thousands of IEP goals listed below. And that information is free! But, if you are in the profession and like books, here are some recommendations.
IEP Objectives and Benchmarks
Many teams confuse IEP goals and IEP objectives. It helps to think of objectives as steps toward a goal. You can use the term benchmarks instead of objectives.
Benchmarks indicate the interim steps a child will take to reach an annual goal. They also serve as a measurement gauge to monitor a child’s progress and determine if the child is making sufficient progress towards attaining an annual goal. Using a roadmap analogy, benchmarks and short-term objectives are used to divide the trip to the final destination into concrete, smaller steps.NICHCY
It’s important to note, that if your child takes an alternative standardized assessment, then benchmarks are a required component of the IEP. Here is the exact wording from IDEA.
Example of IEP Objectives
Here is one SEL IEP goal, with objectives listed below it. This is just to give you an example of how objectives and benchmark help a child toward the goal.
IEP Goal Example: The Student will develop social understanding skills as measured by the benchmarks listed below.
Objectives to support that IEP goal:
- _____ will raise their hand and wait to be called on before talking aloud in group settings 4/5 opportunities to do so.
- _____will work cooperatively with peers in small group settings (ie. Share materials, allow peers to share different thoughts) 4/5 opportunities to do so.
- _____ will develop an understanding of the relationship between his/her verbalizations and actions/effect on others 4/5 opportunities to do so.
- _____ will engage in appropriate cooperative social play interactions initiated by others 4/5 opportunities to do so.
- _____ will engage in cooperative social play interactions by allowing others to make changes or alter the play routine 4/5 opportunities to do so.
- _____ will engage in appropriate turn-taking skills by attending to peer’s turn and waiting for own turn 4/5 opportunities to do so.
- _____will appropriately acknowledge an interaction initiated by others by giving an appropriate response, either verbal or non-verbal.
If you just read that and are thinking, “Wow! That’s a great goal!” No worries, I have a whole list of IEP Social Skills goals right here.
How to Collect Data for IEP Goals.
On this site, you will find a whole separate post on IEP Progress Monitoring. You will find more on data collection in that article.
Listen instead of read:
If you wish to listen to the podcast instead, here you go.
Like I said, no need to reinvent the wheel. Here are literally thousands of IEP goals for you to read and adapt as needed.