Saturday, February 5, 2011

Getting Started...Writing IEP Goals

I thought I'd write a little about the very dry subject of writing IEP goals today :)  Go ahead...find a more interesting paint dry on your won't bother me!  If you'd like to see my previous post on how to keep TRACK of IEP goal progress go HERE.

Writing IEP goals that are meaningful to the child, attainable for the child within the one year time period, are relatively simple to track and will show true growth are sometimes a challenge to write! 

Of course, we know, IEP's are invaluable!  IEP goals keep us on track.  Goals allow us to help a child move from where they currently are to the next level.  IEP goals (as with IEP's themselves) are never written in a vacuum.   Writing goals should be a collaborative effort.  The entire team needs to be involved (parents, sp.ed. teacher, specialists, gen. ed. teacher...and with older children, often the child him/herself)

Even though IEP's and IEP goals are written for a specific child, it certainly doesn't mean that you can never use a well written goal more than once!  I have children who are very similar in what they need to work on and where they are functioning.  Therefore, the IEP goals may be very similar.  (Although I always tweak the goal even if I am using the same basic format.)

There are many different ways to write IEP goals.  Each state, and, in fact, each school district has certain requirements for IEP goals.  You need to know the rules in your own district.  However, there are items that will make an IEP goal work well.  And in my opinion, seeing examples of goals, rather than a list of what needs to be included in a goal is more helpful.  Therefore, I will just move on with a few examples of my children's current IEP goals (of course, without names):

*Self-help/ Independence:
By January 2012, when entering the classroom, ******* will complete 4 out of 4 steps of the morning routine (take off backpack, hang up backpack, unzip coat, take off coat) independently (initially with verbal and picture prompts only as needed) on 4 out of 5 consecutive days observed.
(This goal sets us up naturally to move on to the next steps (unzip backpack, take out notebook, hand to a teacher).  This also leads us from using pictures to prompt at first and then moving to only verbal prompts and eventually independently.)

*Social Goal:
By January 2012, during a 20 minute timed period during small groups, outdoor or center time, when set up with a toy and an adult or child to interact with, ***** will obtain a total of 6 points on a 18 point joint action rubric given 4 consecutive weekly probes.

The joint action rubric includes 9 boxes:

The bottom three (easiest) boxes include these things:
Returns eye contact when another child or adult initiates interaction.   (1 point)
Vocalizes to another child or adult when an interaction is initiated.  (1 point)
Reaches towards a toy another child or adult sets up for him or indicates by vocalizing, laughing and/or physical activity the desire to continue or repeat a play scheme with a toy.  (1 point)

The middle three boxes include these things:
Initiates eye contact with another child or adult.  (2 points)
Initiates interaction with another child or adult by vocalizing.  (2 points)
Reaches to manipulate a toy near another child or adult or indicates by vocalizing, laughing and/or physical activity the desire to continue or repeat a play scheme with a toy.  (2 points)

And the top three boxes include these things:
Sustains interaction by repeatedly making eye contact over a several min. period. (3 points)
Sustains interaction by engaging in turn taking vocalizations of at least 2 turns.  (3 points)
Sustains interaction by watching another child or adult and then reaching out to manipulate toy or indicates by vocalizing, laughing and/or physical activity the desire to continue or repeat a play scheme with a toy.  (3 points)

I am still experimenting with how to most effectively use rubrics for IEP goals.  I'm sure these will evolve as I get more experience with writing them for IEP goals.  It's always a good idea to brainstorm how a goal will need to be written.  Sometimes the logistics of how a goal will be tracked or what needs to be included in a goal will take several attempts before everyone (parents, teachers, specialists etc.) are all satisfied with how the goal is written. 

Hopefully, this will give you a basic idea of what needs to be included in an IEP goal!  Now, hopefully, you aren't still watching your paint dry!  Just don't have TOO much fun brainstorming possible IEP goals!


  1. Thanks for posting. With "Responce to Intervention" (RTI) taking a stronger hold in my district for all children (not only those holding IEP's )I see movment towards rubrics--ugh. They make such pretty graphs! I've been in denial but your posting has brought some light to how to use it at the PK level. Thanks again this is a real keeper for me!

  2. Holly- I'm certainly glad this is helpful to someone! And, you are correct- we will be seeing more and more individualizing with RTI. (some argue that ALL children should have goals written specifically for them...not just those with IEP's) I'm now excited about the possibilities of using rubrics for IEP will take work up front, but I think in the long run, it will be helpful! (wasn't so thrilled with this idea at first either- but so far it's worked well!)

  3. I just found this post and I am really intrigued with your use of rubrics for meeting long term goals. Here in Ohio, we use objectives, or smaller goals, to guide us toward the long term goal; but I really like your use of a rubric. I would like to know how it is working for you after almost a year.

  4. Sandy- I have to say, after a year of using rubrics, I can't imagine going back! I have really grown to find that they offer us so much more than we were doing before! I feel that the progress monitoring is more accurate, more detailed and is great for focusing on one area with multiple skills inside of this. We used to use objectives and milestones as well. Now, the rubrics hold all this info. It does take some getting used to- and I am clearly much better at writing rubrics for IEP purposes than I was before, but I think it is completely worth it!

  5. Thanks for the goal examples. I love reading other SpEd teachers' goals to see what they are working on in their classrooms.

    If you are looking for any resources to assist in IEP planning I have an IEP Organization kit on my blog that you may find useful.


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