As you and your child’s IEP team develop your child’s annual IEP goals, there are several things to consider. Keep in mind that goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-oriented, and Time-bound. That means they shouldn’t be vague or general.
Bring this checklist with you to help the team make sure your child’s goals provide the appropriate support. You can view or download a printable version of this checklist by clicking one of the links below.
What to Consider When Developing Annual IEP GoalsPDF
- Are the goals clear and understandable? Do the goals avoid jargon or undefined acronyms?
- Are the goals positively oriented? (“With supports, Henry will…” as opposed to “With supports, Henry will not...”)
- Do the goals reference and line up with your child’s present level of performance (PLOP)?
- Do the goals address academic and social areas your child struggles with because of specific challenges?
- Are the goals standards-based? (Is the desired outcome to reach grade-level academic standards?)
- Do the goals address how your child will gain skills? Do they identify instructional strategies?
- Can the goals be accomplished within the time frame of the IEP?
- Do the goals list ways to measure progress? (Standardized tests, curriculum-based measurements, screening, etc.)
- Is it clear what your child will be able to do when the goals are met?
- Do the goals set ambitious, but realistic, expectations for your child?
- Are the goals strengths-based? (Do they use your child’s strengths to help address a particular need?)
- Did your child have a chance to give input on goals and share information about strengths?
- If your child is in high school, do the goals include transition planning?
Learn more about the IEP process, including questions to ask before and during the meeting. Take a look at the anatomy of an IEP plan. Download a fact sheet about strengths-based IEPs And explore real stories from parents about their IEP experiences.
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About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the director of thought leadership at Understood and author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.” She worked as a classroom teacher and early intervention specialist for more than a decade.