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Understanding IEP Goals and Objectives
It's more to it than you think...
By Nicole Bovell Posted in IEP 0 Comments 5 min read
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There is a huge focus on understanding IEP goals and objectives. And there should be. Why? Because IEP goals and objectives are the most important part of the IEP. These are the specific skills that your child will learn throughout the school year. A lot of parents just want to get to the end of the IEP and talk about placement. But, what they do not understand is that goals and objectives drive placement. So…the GOALS AND OBJECTIVES section of the IEP is what you should focus on the most. In, Parents End the School Year on a Good Note, I note that:

your child’s current level of performance⇒goals and objectives proposed by IEP team⇒placement to address goals and objectives.

Remember Goals and Objectives DRIVE Placement!

What specifically are IEP Goals and Objectives?

We know that IEP goals and objectives outline what your child will learn over the school year. But, it is also important to note that IEP goals and objectives are INDIVIDUALIZED. Even though we may gain an idea from an IEP Goal Bank, the proposed goals and objectives should always be based on the needs of your child. In other words, when written, there should be a connection between their individual needs and the goals and objectives in their IEP. Goals and objectives should also relate to how your child will be involved in the general education curriculum AND how they will make progress with the academic content, compared to their peers.

Know the Difference Between Goals and Objectives

Even though goals and objectives are used interchangeably at times, they are different. For example, goals are the “big steps” of what your child will learn. They guide what learning will take place over the school year. In contrast, objectives (sometimes called benchmarks) are the “smaller steps.” They break goals down into smaller steps. When your child meets all of their objectives under the goal, they have completed their annual goal.

When you write goals, all IEP goals should be S.M.A.R.T. Goals. 

But what are S.M.A.R.T. Goals? S.M.A.R.T. IEP goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Relevant, and Time-limited. All goals proposed in your child’s IEP need to fit this criteria. If they do not, then some revisions should be made. 

The Goals and Objectives Section of the IEP

As stated earlier, the goals and objectives section of the IEP is the most important part of the IEP. However, in my experience as a special education teacher, I have noticed that parents usually leave the development of IEP goals and objectives up to the school. This should not be case. Parents, I encourage you to brainstorm and write down your own goals and objectives for your child before entering the IEP meeting. Remember you are an important part of the IEP team. So take the time BEFORE the IEP meeting to think about what goals and objectives are necessary for your child to make progress.

Before an IEP meeting is held, a draft IEP is sent home for the parents to review and note any questions that they may have. Use this time to read over the proposed IEP goals and objectives and note any changes that you would like to see made. When it is time for this section of the IEP, make sure the IEP team takes their time. However, due to time constraints, sometimes this section is rushed through. Make sure every goal and objective is discussed, is measurable, and deemed relevant to your child’s disability and progress towards the general education curriculum. In contrast, if this is your first IEP meeting and you do not receive a draft IEP with proposed goals and objectives, it is even more important that you are not rushed during this section. Read over EVERY goal and objective and be prepared to make your own suggestions. If you need more time to process the information, let the IEP team know.

Some Important Things to Remember About Goals and Objectives

  • IEP goals should be specific statements about what a child will accomplish in a year.
  • IEP goals must address your child’s academic achievement and functional performance.
  • IEP goals should help your child to be involved in and progress in the general education curriculum.
  • IEP goals should meet your child’s educational needs as a result from their disability.
  • All IEP goals should be S.M.A.R.T. – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and realistic, and time-limited.

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The Bottom Line….The purpose of the IEP is to identify all of your child’s needs, how the school will meet these needs and how the school will measure your child’s progress. With that being said, you will receive a progress report with information on how your child is progressing with their goals and objectives. If your child’s goals and objectives are not clear and measurable with a defined baseline and assessment, there will always be issues with if your child is making adequate progress. So, make sure all of your child’s IEP goals are S.M.A.R.T. and this will leave little room for disagreement.

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