IEP goals should be impactful. We want goals that are going to bring our kids forward and let them reach new heights. Here are some simple ways to make sure your IEP goals will be impactful for your students.
1. Make a data sheet
Before committing to a goal in an IEP, create a data sheet for yourself. Take data on the draft goal using your data sheet. Not only that, but if a paraprofessional will be responsible for taking the data, let them work on taking data for the goal. Are you able to take the data quickly? Is the data truly reflective of the activity being measuring? Does the data have to be collected in a certain setting or do you have flexibility in the setting?
2. Consider Distance Learning
With our new situation, it’s wise to consider making as many goals as possible compatible with distance learning as we can. Some goals, especially behavior goals, don’t lend themselves to distance learning. Children often exhibit different behaviors in different settings. However, many academic goals can be written in ways that give you flexibility to measure the data in person or via digital means. If you have potential goals for students that can be written for digital and in person data collection, I strongly recommend you do so. We have to start thinking of new ways to make sure your IEP goals will be impactful.
Things to consider:
- Handwriting IEP goals could be difficult for distance learning. Is typing a more appropriate skill for the student? How much typing (and phone texting) will your student be doing in the future compared to handwriting? Handwriting is important, but typing is also an essential communication skill.
- Behavior goals can include goals about remaining in the classroom, staying in a particular space in the class, refraining from a certain activity (biting, hitting, etc). It’s hard to take data on remaining in the classroom when nobody is in the classroom. Behavior goals are some of our most important goals because solving behavior troubles can make a giant difference in quality of life for our students and their families. You’ll need to discuss in the IEP meeting what behaviors are happening both at school and at home. There aren’t easy answers on how to address this, and plans should be individual based on student needs.
- Life skills goals can be really difficult to measure remotely. For example, I’ve had students before with goals related to hand washing. To measure this behavior remotely, you’d need really involved family members that can accurately take data, including prompt levels. Imagine having to do a video call with a student from the bathroom sink to measure hand washing! These types of goals are essential and merit a discussion in the IEP meeting about how to address these needs during periods of distance learning.
3. Check your action verbs
Read your draft goals and highlight your action verbs. Can you take a video of the action, a picture of the action, or act out the action? If someone else read the goal, would they act out the same behavior you did, or do they have room for a different interpretation? Think of your IEP goals like stage directions. You want your actor to know exactly what to do during the scene. Similarly, your student and any other professionals need to know exactly what the student needs to do to be successful.
Looking for action verb inspiration? Get my FREE list here.
4. Consider prompts
Once you have your verbs dialed in, it’s time to think about prompts. Some students will need prompts to be successful at a goal, and that is OK. But eventually, they will need to be able to do the work independently. Your goal should include information on how many prompts and what type of prompting is allowable. Your data sheets should include space to track prompts. If a prompt isn’t included in the goal (and isn’t elsewhere in the IEP), if you are prompting the student, they are not being successful at the goal. Consider carefully what prompts your student needs or doesn’t need, consider how to fade prompts over time, and consider how prompting data can be efficiently tracked for the goal. The less prompts you allow, the more impact the goal can have on the student’s independence.
5. Get a second opinion
After you have checked your action verbs and prompts, have someone appropriate on the IEP team review your draft goals before sending them out to family for review and before the IEP meeting. Ask them to restate what the IEP goal means to them. Are you on the same page? If they report something back that isn’t exactly what you had in mind, you need to revise the goal for clarity. Anybody reading the goal should be able to understand exactly what the student will be doing.
6. Consider Assistive Technology
Assistive technology should always be considered for a student in their IEP to help them be successful at their goals and in school in general. Your student might benefit from an AT assessment. AT can be high tech or low tech. Sometimes, AT can be something simple and low tech like a tilted writing board and a pencil grip to help with motor function while writing. Even if you aren’t working on a handwriting goal, this type of assistive technology can help a student become more successful across the board by reducing the frustration of writing answers in any subject. AT might be really high tech like electronic communication devices. Even adding extensions to a browser can be part of AT. AT should always be a consideration for your students. How can tools and technology make a difference in accessibility and success for your kids?
Ready for the Meeting
After you’ve taken the time to carefully craft your draft, you’re ready to send the draft goals to the family. They get input too. Districts across the country have different rules and regulations on this, so make sure you are following the guidelines of your Local Education Agency (LEA) on this. Parent input can help make goals even better and help ensure that the goals are going to be relevant for your student for a long time because it will be relevant in home, not just in school. Following these 6 ways to make sure your IEP goals will be impactful will help you have a smoother IEP meeting and will help make the entire IEP year more effective for your student and easier for you.