Measurable Goals & Objectives Frequently Q&A
- How should the IEP address exploring career options, preparing for job interviews, or other transition-related activities?
- Do students with a categorical eligibility of Other Health Impaired need to have specific goals addressing the health impairment?
- What procedural requirements exist when a public agency does not agree with a specific request from the parent (e.g., including a specific goal or service in the IEP)?
- How should goals be written for co-taught classes, including classes like science and social studies?
- How do you write goals for students functioning significantly below grade level?
- How do you write a goal for students who are in regular education classes and are only seen on an “as needed” basis?
- When a student needs just a few modifications in the regular curriculum, how would we write a goal to address “keeping up grades” or “pass the class”?
- Is it best practice to include a percentage in your annual goal?
- Where can we get more information on MAP-A, IEPs, wording for goals, and portfolio information?
- If you put a weakness or concern in the Present Level of Performance, is it required by law to have a goal or objective to address this?
- Can you write a grade level on a goal (Example: the student will increase reading comprehension to a 5th grade level)?
- Are we now being directed to write goals to address concerns as well as the specific areas of eligibility?
- How should the goals for children in an Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) program be written?
- How do we handle the situation of a high school junior with a disability in math who has fulfilled all graduation requirements for math and, therefore, takes no more math classes?
- How should we address the situation of a high school student who is unable to function academically in a secondary curriculum?
Questions & Answers
The Transition Form C in the IEP is the appropriate place for postsecondary goals and services to be listed. Transition services can also be addressed through annual goals with accompanying objectives and/or benchmarks as appropriate. These goals must meet all of the requirements for a measurable goal as stated in state and federal regulations and the Special Education Compliance Standards and Indicators Manual, Section 200.810. There must be at least one annual measurable goal to support each postsecondary transition goal.
IEP goals address the skills or behaviors for which specially designed instruction is required for the child to access and make progress in the general education curriculum. The Present Level will address how the child’s disability affects her/his involvement and progress in the general education curriculum or for preschool children, appropriate activities. When considering eligibility for IDEA resulting from a health, motor, sensory, or non-cognitive impairment, the IEP team must identify the educational concerns resulting from the disability and develop goals that address those educational concerns.
State and federal regulations require that a prior written notice must be given to the parents of a child with a disability a reasonable time before the public agency proposes or refuses to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the child or the provision of FAPE to the child.
If the parent makes a request to have something included in the child’s IEP that involves FAPE (i.e., a specific goal, service, accommodation, modification, etc) and the team concludes that the item requested is not appropriate or necessary for the current IEP, then the agency must provide the parent with a prior written notice refusing the parent’s request. The Notice of Action Refused affords the parent the option of challenging the team’s decision through the Due Process Hearing system.
IEP goals address the skills or behaviors for which specially designed instruction is required. IEP goals should not reiterate the curriculum but should address the skills or behaviors the child needs in order to be successful in the regular classroom. Co-teaching is a service delivery model. A child’s receipt of services through a co-teaching model should be decided after the goals and objectives/benchmarks are written. Once the goals are written, the IEP team will address whether or not the goals can be implemented in the regular education classroom with the use of supplementary aids, services, or modifications, including the use of a co-teaching model of instruction.
Since IEP goals address the specially designed instruction required for the child the IEP team will need to write goals that cover the skills/behaviors identified as priorities for the current IEP. For some children the goals may not address skills typically associated with the curriculum at the child’s current grade level; however, the goals should address skills necessary to move the child closer to the appropriate grade level. For some children, the IEP team will need to identify more functional skills related to the general curriculum (e.g., math concepts associated with banking, purchasing groceries, measurement, or other daily living concepts.)
The IEP is intended to provide specially designed instruction for students with disabilities, including, as appropriate, physical education, speech-language services, travel training, vocational education and transition services, if provided as specially designed instruction. Each student’s IEP must contain some level of special education service. If an IEP team determines that a student only requires the support of a special educator on an as needed basis for monitoring progress in the regular education classroom, then the IEP should reflect what skills or behaviors are to be monitored and a duration for the monitoring that does not exceed one semester. Students not requiring specially designed instruction should not be identified for IDEA services. At this point, if the student continued to require some modifications or accommodations in the regular classroom, a Section 504 plan could be considered.
“Keeping up grades” or “passing the class” should be expectations for all students. Neither of these would be goals requiring special education or related services as defined under IDEA. Accommodations and/or modifications in the regular education classroom may be necessary for a student with a disability to have the appropriate outcome of “keeping up grades” or “passing the class”; however, the student’s goal(s) should address those skills or behaviors that require specially designed instruction. If there is not a need for specially designed instruction, then the team should consider exiting the student from special education services. (see response to #6 above)
The Special Education Compliance Standards and Indicators Manual, Section 200.810, requires that annual goals are written in terms that include:
-- A specific skill or behavior to be achieved;
-- Must be measurable;
-- Must be attainable within the duration of the IEP;
-- Must be results oriented;
-- Must be time-bound (generally attainable within 1 year.)
The particular criteria used for the level of attainment of a goal will vary based upon what the IEP team is attempting to help the student achieve. If the goal were to increase the number of sight words recognized by the child at the end of the IEP year, then the best measurement might be an exact number of words recognized compared to the baseline data (i.e., increase sight word recognition by 40 words). However, a behavior goal to decrease acting-out behaviors might be represented with a percentage during a class period (i.e., decrease acting-out behaviors by 50% during a 50 minute class period).
More information regarding writing goals for the MAP-A portfolio process is provided in MAP-A training. The Department offers programs through the Regional Professional Development Centers (RPDC) to train teachers on how to develop IEP goals that will meet MAP-A portfolio requirements.
The law does NOT require a goal for each concern in the Present Level. The IEP team must consider which of the concerns are the most important for the coming year and write goals to address those concerns. By prioritizing the concerns, the child’s IEP will be focusing on the skills or behaviors that are most critical for the child to acquire during the duration of the IEP (typically 12 months).
For some children the use of a grade level may be the most appropriate way to define the goal and the level of attainment. This is not, however, a requirement.
IDEA requires the IEP for each child with a disability to include a statement of measurable annual goals related to meeting the child’s needs that result from the disability. The goals will address those skills and /or behaviors that are necessary to enable the child to be involved in and progress in the general curriculum or appropriate activities for preschool children. The concerns identified in the Present Level should focus on the how the child’s disability affects this involvement and progress. ( See Question #10 above.)
The Present Level should address how the disability affects the preschooler’s participation in appropriate activities for this age child. The goals should be written in the same way the goals for school-age children are written. The IEP team needs to consider what the child’s needs are in order for him/her to progress in the ECSE curriculum or to help the child be prepared to enter kindergarten at or near grade level
The IEP team should evaluate the student’s math needs across the curriculum (e.g., science, business courses, transition service needs, etc.) to determine the individual goals necessary for the student to continue making progress toward graduation and post-secondary expectations.
If a student is receiving instruction in a functional curriculum, the goals should be written to help the child progress through that curriculum. The Present Level must include a statement about how the student’s disability affects his/her progress and involvement in the general education curriculum and should describe the concerns that demonstrate the student’s needs for a functional curriculum.