1) the goals and dreams of the child and family for their child – what are you aiming for?
2) the student’s strengths and needs
3) evaluations done by professionals working with the student
4) the Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance of the student
Beginning an IEP with the strengths of the individual sets a positive tone for the meeting. Parents should then expect teachers and others working with their child to explain how the child is progressing and to show them data from the previous year’s goals, work samples, and perhaps standardized or other testing. If you need an explanation of testing results, the school should provide a person who is qualified to explain the test and its results. In the case of psychological testing, this person should be the school psychologist.
This is an important step and should not be rushed through, because the rest of the IEP comes from this information.
Knowing what has been accomplished in the last year and where the child is currently, the IEP team can then decide what the goals and objectives will be for the next year. Both parents and teachers should be thinking about goals prior to the meeting. Parents should ask for proposed goals from their child’s teacher at least a week prior to the IEP meeting. They may want to send some of their ideas for goals to the teacher as well. Both parents and teacher will have time to consider the suggestions for goals, add their own ideas, make changes, or write down any questions they might have. Doing this ahead of time helps the meeting to go more quickly and smoothly.
A good goal will tell what the student will be able to do and to what level or extent.
Specific – provide a clear description of the academic and functional skills that will be taught
Measurable – can be counted, observed, or produce a written product. Goals that can be measured produce data to demonstrate progress!
Action-oriented – tell what the child will be able to do
Realistic and Relevant – achieveable in the time frame given and important to future success
Time-limited – a target date by which the goal will be achieved – usually a year if left unstated.
Sometimes goals are achieved more quickly than expected, so the team should meet to create additional goals and not wait for the annual review.
Because the IEP is a legal document and will “drive” the services your child receives, writing good goals is very important! If for any reason you disagree with the goals, you are entitled to use your parental rights to try to come to agreement with the school system.
Parent to Parent of Georgia provides a free workshop on the topic of writing good goals called “Making It Count – Writing Measurable Goals on the IEP”. For more information on this training…
Annual Goals – From Emotions to Advocacy by Pam and Pete Wright