Many times, as part of the IEP team, whether or not you are the occupational therapist, speech therapist, or special education teacher we can struggle to write effective IEP goals for our students.
Sometimes we are given goal banks, lists of fill-in-the-blank goals, or goals that are centered solely around the common core that really don’t meet the student at their needs. So how can we write an effective goal for our students that isn’t all time-consuming? In this blog, I will explain how to write S.M.A.R.T. IEP goals to help prepare you to draft your next IEP goal on your caseload.
SMART IEP Goals
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results, and Time. I always say, “if you read the goal and you don’t understand it, then nobody else will either.”
- Specific - How clearly defined is the skill that is being addressed? For example: Johnny will solve single-digit addition problems…addition is the specific part of the goal I am working on as well as using single digits.
- Measurable - how you will measure this goal. For example, Johnny will solve 10 single-digit addition problems with at least 80% accuracy, measured by teacher-made assessments, work samples, and observations. This goal is being measured by three things: assessments, work samples, and observations
- Attainable - is this goal realistic? Is this something that the student will be able to accomplish? Over the years, I have seen goals that were way too difficult or easy for the child. So, we want it to be somewhere that is a struggle but also accomplishable within a year. Using the previous example: Johnny will solve 10 single-digit addition problems with at least 80% accuracy, measured by teacher-made assessments, work samples, and observations. The attainable part here is the number 10. The student needs to complete 10 single-digit addition problems with 80% accuracy (or higher) by the end of the IEP year.
- Results - what are we hoping to accomplish? What are the results of this goal? Looking at our goal sample, we are wanting our students to solve addition problems 80% of the time when given 10 problems to solve. Some goals also want you to share how many opportunities will this child have. For me, considering there are 5 teaching days a week, I usually will put 4 out of 5 opportunities. So to add to my sample goal it would look something like this: Johnny will solve 10 single-digit addition problems with at least 80% accuracy, on 4 out of 5 opportunities, measured by teacher-made assessments, work samples, and observations.
- Time - this is the time frame from when the goal will start to when it will end. You will see the meeting date on the first page of the IEP. This also includes how often the goal will be measured. For example: By January 12th, 2024, Johnny will solve 10 single-digit addition problems with at least 80% accuracy, on 4 out of 5 opportunities, measured by monthly teacher-made assessments, work samples, and observations. The time is referenced by the date, January 12th, 2024 as well as the word monthly.
When writing IEP goals, make sure they are based on their present levels. Based on district assessments, teacher assessments, state assessments, and the psychoeducational report we want to take all that data and write a goal that meets the child at their threshold. There is no generic goal that can be applied to all your students.
Sometimes your goals are not grade level, so you might have to write a goal that is 1 -2 grade levels below with the hope of getting that student to grade-level standards.
IEPS are fluid. Meaning, a student can meet an IEP goal at anytime during the school year which is fan-tas-tic! If this happens, you propose a new IEP goal with the team and make an amendment. You do not have to wait until the next IEP meeting date to change the goal. That would actually be a detriment to the student to not create a new goal if they have met their current goal.
When writing IEP goals think SMART. Meet them at their present level. You can change IEP goals at any time.
Author: Adrienne L. Oliveira, Special Education Teacher