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