The air is buzzing with energy here at Passage, as students are ready to transition to summer. Anyone who works in a school will read this statement as a gross underestimation of just how antsy students are to finish the year. Often at this time behavioral problems increase, so it seems an unlikely time for me to post about writing better Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals and objectives, but I’ve been receiving a lot of questions this week, and thought this might be helpful for some of our teachers and parents.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004) requires that children found eligible for Special Education and related services are provided with a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The individualized education program, or IEP, is a roadmap to FAPE. According to IDEA, an IEP “means a written statement for each child with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised in a meeting . . .that must include:
A statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance…
A statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals designed to:
Meet the child’s needs that result from the child’s disability to enable the child to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum; and
Meet each of the child’s other educational needs that result from the child’s disability; ”

It includes measurable annual goals that estimate what outcomes the student, his or her teachers, and parents can expect in one year’s time. These goals are linked to how the student is currently functioning, known as Present Levels of Educational Performance (PLEP). The goals are further broken down into short-term objectives that act as mile markers for the roadmap, that is they show us how far a student has come between the initial PLEP and the annual goal. Stated another way, short-term objectives help us gauge progress. According to the Council For Exceptional Children, the final short-term objective should be the last step before the child achieves an annual goal.

It is important to write clear goals and objectives so that everyone on the IEP team knows what to expect, and can tell if a student is progressing.

For example, if I had an IEP, and my PLEP stated,

” Melissa demonstrates difficulty completing individual seat work in mathematics, and typically completes only 25% per semester. She needs verbal reminders to stay on task, and requires them about every 5 minutes in order to stay focused.”

A VAGUE annual behavioral goal would be:”Melissa will increase time on task.”
The outcome for this goal is unclear because two teachers might have very different perceptions of what it means to increase time on task. We also dont know what increase is expected. Would an increase of 30 seconds be sufficient?

A BETTER annual goal would be:

By May 2011, Melissa will remain on task (remain in seat, complete no less than 75% individual classwork, raise hand) for a 30 minute interval in math class, with no more than two verbal reminders from school-based staff.

Benchmark 1- By no later than October 2010, Melissa will remain in her seat and work independently for 10 minutes on 4/5 opportunities.

Benchmark 2- By February 2011, Melissa will increase her rate of independent seatwork completion from 25% to at least 70%.

You can see that my annual goal provides a baseline, as well as my final goal. It quantifies what is expected, and where the behavior is expected. I have to run, but I will post more about writing goals, and objectives in the coming weeks. If you need help with writing goals and objectives, or have question about your child’s IEP, please call, or stop into room 107.

Ms. Calabrese

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