SMART Goals Make Smarter Students!

As special education practitioners, we know that writing Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals based upon evidence-based instructional strategies are the gold standard to support student learning for college- and career readiness. By setting Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-limited goals, all IEP team members have a clear sense of the target to meet before the next annual review.

SMARTDefinition

SMART is a mnemonic acronym used in a variety of settings, providing benchmark goals and measurements. IEP team members may also use this tool to write better annual goals:

  • Specific - The goal identifies the areas of need (e.g. academic or behavioral) and functional performance;
  • Measurable - The goal is observable and must be measured and collected to determine the student’s progress; 
  • Attainable - The goal indicates the student’s expected annual progress; 
  • Relevant - The goal addresses the child’s specific deficits in knowledge, skills, or behaviors necessary for school success;  
  • Time-limited - The goal is written for a one-year time frame to improve present levels and a child’s academic achievement or behavior;

Examples

8th-grade math 

By (date), (name) will increase math skills by solving two-step equations as measured by teacher-made assignments and student work samples, with no more than 4 errors in 25 problems. 

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Relevant

Time-limited

The student will solve systems of equations with two variables

Using teacher-made assignments and student work samples 

With no more than 4 errors in 25 problems

Meets 8th grade-state standards for expressions and equations

The goal will increase student’s ability to solve more complex linear equations within one year

5th-grade reading

By (date), (name) will use graphic organizers to draw the main idea and 3 supporting details for one paragraph of informational text with no more than 4 errors after reading 20 passages, as measured by teacher-made assignments and student work samples.  

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Relevant

Time-limited

Using graphic organizers, students will draw the main idea and 3 supporting details about informational text 

As measured by teacher-made assignments and student work samples 

With no more than 4 errors after reading 20 informational text passages

Meets state reading standards for 5th-grade comprehension of informational text

The goal will increase student’s ability to explain how the author reasons and uses evidence to support a claim within one year

Behavior

By (date), (name) will initiate his/her work as evidenced by writing relevant words or numbers on his/her paper within one minute of an assignment being presented, with a minimum of 20 recorded opportunities over two months, as measured by observational assessments. 

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Relevant

Time-limited

The student will initiate work within one minute of an assignment being presented

As measured by teacher observations and student performance assessments

20 recorded opportunities over two months

Supports student’s ability to be on task 

The goal will increase student initiation of assigned classroom work within one year

 

Summary

Using the SMART technique will guide IEP teams to write high-quality, legally defensible, IEP goals every time.  

 

Author: Judith Magee, MA, Education Specialist

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