I will never forget this one day when Kevin was a preschooler. We had an IEP meeting, and one of his proposed math IEP goals was to be able to visualize and identify what 2 of something looks like or what 3 of something looks like.

That same day, my younger son came up to me with two baby blankets, one in each hand, and said, “Look, mommy! TWO blankies!” Ouch. He’s two and a half years younger, and he already had the skills that his brother lacked—a beginning math skill.

math iep goals

Math IEP goals are one of my nemeses as an advocate. Because here’s the thing: very few math skills are stand-alone skills.

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And, when parents ask me for assistance, they’ll ask for things like a 6th grade math IEP goal, even though their child is not performing at the level of 6th grade math content.

What one kindergarten child can do as far as kindergarten math IEP goals varies from child to child.

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A pencil sits on top of a math multiplication sheet.

Math IEP Goals

To perform even the most basic skill, a student needs other foundational skills.

I find that when you dig deep underneath the skill deficits behind the math deficits, you often find a whole host of other issues.

A young boy engaging in reading with a book in his mouth.

Math Goals

We often forget that math skills often begin with memorization. Parents and teachers sing songs about counting to ten. So is a child actually counting to ten? Or are they just singing a memorized song? A child can tell you 2+2=4. But is that a memorized phrase? Can that child actually visualize what two of something looks like?

Being able to memorize your home address and knowing where you live are two different skills. See my point?

If a child has unaddressed reading issues, they cannot do word problems. Math learning cannot occur without either working memory or accommodations for a lack of working memory. And there are many other subsets that our kids lack.

The child also has to be able to assign symbols to an idea. Three, III, and 3 all mean the same thing.

As an exercise, let’s say we put 3 donut holes in front of a child. Ask them to count them. They get to 3. But could they assign the number 3 in a matching exercise?

Furthermore, can I look at a plate with 5 donut holes and tell you which plate has more donut holes?

Three colorful sprinkled donuts on a wooden table, perfect for a math-inspired IEP goal setting session.
I’ll happily practice math if we’re counting donuts.

Foundations of Math Skills

  • Understanding size and measurements
  • Number sense
  • Ability to count verbally (first forward, then backward)
  • Recognizing numerals
  • Spatial awareness, visualizing what “3” of something looks like.
  • More than, less than
  • Understanding one-to-one correspondence (i.e., matching sets, or knowing which group has four and which has five)
  • patterns
  • estimating
  • sequences
  • problem-solving
  • comparison
  • sorting
  • language
  • working memory

What happens is that some kids are great at either memorizing or masking, until they can’t. So it is assumed that they have sort of stalled out on math skills when the fact is that they likely always lacked the basics, but it wasn’t evident.

elementary math skills
From the University of Chicago list below.

Too many people who write math goals approach it from the point of view of a mathematician. Look at the goal above for 1st grade, the part where it says “calculate and compare the values of combinations and coins.”

It makes me cringe. We all know that a nickel is bigger than a dime but worth less. To know and memorize this also requires flexible thinking, as in “bigger is not always more.”

I get that this is a standards-based list, but I just cannot stress enough how important it is to address what lies underneath successful math skills.

A wooden abacus, perfect for math exercises and achieving IEP goals, is placed on a clean white background.
It seems old-fashioned, but an abacus provides a multi-sensory approach to learning math.

Math Skills IEP Goals

Ok, so my point is…or I am pleading with you, if you have found this blog post, to make sure that the underlying skills have been evaluated and addressed. I know that many parents and educators come to lists of IEP math goals, choose what fits, and that’s it.

If the foundation skill isn’t there, the math skill will never be achieved. And this can be harmful to a child’s mental health, to be constantly given goals you cannot achieve or be able to define why you cannot do them.

Please promise me that you won’t come here, grab your needed goal ideas to complete the IEP and just bounce, ok?

Math Goals for an IEP

Here you go: the printable list of Math IEP Goals.

I have Money Goals for an IEP in a related post. And Word Problem IEP Goals are a separate post too.

I have a love/hate relationship with this list. I liked that it does list the skills incremental skill sets by age/grade.

But, it is just that–a list. It does not go into any of the pre-skills that are necessary. “Do mental arithmetic” is a useless command if you lack working memory or the ability to visualize quantity.

I hope this helps. In some cases, the child will need a good neuropsychological evaluation to determine what the root of the issue is.

Functional Math IEP Goals Examples

I have a whole separate list of money IEP goals, if you want more details and more specificity.

Here are five potential Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals for functional math:

  1. Goal: Money Management
    • Objective: By the end of the IEP period, the student will demonstrate proficiency in counting and making change with dollars and coins in real-life situations, such as purchasing items at a store, with at least 80% accuracy across three consecutive data collection points.
  2. Goal: Budgeting and Planning
    • Objective: Over the IEP period, the student will develop the ability to create and maintain a personal budget for a specified period (e.g., month) with at least 90% accuracy, including tracking expenses, income, and savings goals, as measured by teacher observation and review of budgeting documents.
  3. Goal: Measurement Skills
    • Objective: By the end of the IEP period, the student will accurately measure and estimate lengths, weights, and volumes of commonly used items (e.g., groceries, household objects) using appropriate units (e.g., inches, pounds, liters) in at least 4 out of 5 opportunities, as assessed by teacher-created tasks and practical applications.
  4. Goal: Time Management
    • Objective: Over the course of the IEP period, the student will demonstrate improved proficiency in telling time, including reading analog and digital clocks, and understanding time-related concepts (e.g., elapsed time, schedules) in various contexts, achieving at least 80% accuracy on time-related tasks across different settings.
  5. Goal: Problem Solving in Daily Situations
    • Objective: By the end of the IEP period, the student will be able to solve practical math problems encountered in daily living independently, such as calculating recipe measurements, determining sale prices, and interpreting transit schedules, with at least 75% accuracy as measured by teacher observation and performance on problem-solving tasks.

These goals are designed to help students develop functional math skills that are directly applicable to real-life situations, promoting independence and success in various environments.

Math Calculation IEP Goals

Here are five potential IEP goals for math calculation skills:

  1. Goal: Addition and Subtraction Fluency
    • Objective: By the end of the IEP period, the student will demonstrate mastery of basic addition and subtraction facts up to 20, achieving at least 90% accuracy on timed assessments administered bi-weekly.
  2. Goal: Multiplication and Division Proficiency
    • Objective: Over the course of the IEP period, the student will develop fluency in multiplication and division facts up to 10, accurately solving multiplication and division problems in written and mental calculations with at least 80% accuracy across multiple assessments.
  3. Goal: Problem Solving with Math Operations
    • Objective: By the end of the IEP period, the student will be able to solve multi-step math word problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division with numbers up to 100, demonstrating understanding of the problem-solving process and achieving at least 70% accuracy on problem-solving tasks administered monthly.
  4. Goal: Understanding Place Value
    • Objective: Over the IEP period, the student will develop a solid understanding of place value concepts up to the thousands place, including the ability to identify and represent the value of digits in various positions within a number, achieving at least 80% accuracy on place value exercises and assessments conducted quarterly.
  5. Goal: Mathematical Reasoning and Critical Thinking
    • Objective: By the end of the IEP period, the student will demonstrate improved ability to apply mathematical reasoning and critical thinking skills to solve complex math problems, including identifying patterns, making conjectures, and justifying solutions, with at least 75% accuracy on problem-solving tasks administered bi-monthly.

These goals focus on building foundational math calculation skills, promoting fluency, problem-solving abilities, and mathematical reasoning.

Don’t miss my other lists of IEP goal ideas in the IEP goal bank.

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