So often you come to the table prepared with your parent input statement, your services and minutes, the giant list of accommodations… and then you get to goals and it seems OK, so you just move on! I get it! I’ve been there.
When parents are thinking about long term goals, we don’t know what we don’t know, so we depend on the team to write goals for us. I want you to be able to look at a goal and determine if it is written effectively. We are creating confident parents here!
Have you ever heard of a smart goal? This is not just an education thing! But in order to really make sure we are writing effective IEP goals, we need to make sure they are SMART!
Quick, go grab your child’s IEP. Does it meet that criteria? Now let’s go a little bit deeper… Does that goal set your child up for Further Education, Independent Living and Employment? Remember we are talking REAL LIFE HERE today! You’re probably sitting there like What? My kiddo is 6 no way am I looking for a goal that will get them employed! Let’s just make it through first grade!! Can we just learn to tie our shoes please??
Here’s a hint, shoe tying, is a REAL LIFE GOAL. In fact it was in my son’s IEP for YEARS.
IDEA law is specific. 300.1 An IEP should ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education (FAPE) that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living.
What this means is that these seemingly tiny goals, need to build off each other like steps so that ONE DAY your child is prepared for further education, employment, and independent living. This doesn’t mean all children will be living on their own, holding down CEO jobs. These goals should be attainable and relevant remember? That means that independent living or employment should be whatever is relevant or attainable for your child’s unique abilities.
My mentor often uses the example of counting change. Ask yourself, how often in the last month, have you counted change when you check out at the store? It’s garage sale season so maybe that number is a little higher, but chances are… this isn’t something you often do. YET it is frequently put into IEPs are priority goals. If your child has this in their IEP, and they will never be a cashier, is this a priority? Can you live the rest of your life and use a debit card? Probably. IEP goals should be focused on what priorities meet your child’s unique needs.
When reading through IEP goals, we need to be asking ourselves:
- Is this appropriate and attainable for my child?
- Does this align with the priorities I have for my child?
- Does this goal build skills towards a bigger goal?
- What is important RIGHT NOW?
Let’s talk about some real life examples of PRIORITY REAL LIFE IEP GOALS.
- When given survival signs (stop, exit, and danger etc), Mason will recognize and role play functional meaning of signs with 100% accuracy 4 of 5 times as measured by observation by December 2020.
- When greeted or asked a question by a peer or teacher, Mason will respond as expected 8 out of 10 consecutive opportunities on 5 consecutive days.
- When given a directive from a teacher or staff member, Mason will respond using his words to acknowledge his understanding of the directive in 4 out of 5 trials as measured by teacher data collection by December 2020.
- When given a shopping list and budget, Mason will use sale papers to shop from his list while staying within budget 4 out of 5 times, with 80% accuracy as measured by writing examples by December 2020.
- When given a choice of model, Mason will tie his shoe using the chosen model 3 out of 5 times, with 80% accuracy by December 2020.
- Using a picture recipe, Mason will use the microwave, mixer, blender, oven, or stove to independently prepare the recipe with 100% accuracy for 2 out of 3 trials by December 2020.
- When in a large group setting, Mason will independently initiate participation, stay on task and actively participate for the length of the activity, 4 out of 10 trials as measured by observation by December 2020.
- When playing a game with peers, Mason will watch what’s going on and actively participate in the class (without verbal prompts), for a minimum of 1/2 the game, 3 out of 5 consecutive sessions as measured by observation by December 2020.
- Given a maximum of one verbal cue, Mason will attend to a non-preferred, small-group activity and/or independent assignment, without protest, and remain on task with no task avoidance (bathroom, getting a jacket, tying shoes, sharpening pencil, etc.) for 20 minutes, in 3 out of 4 trials, as measured by observations and staff documentation.
- When unsure of class assignment, Mason will ask for clarification from the teacher by email or in person 3 out of 5 times as measured by teacher observation or email data collection by December 2020.
- When Mason is feeling overwhelmed, he will request a break using verbal or non verbal cues 4 out of 5 times with 100% accuracy by December 2020.
- In counseling sessions, Mason will accurately identify feelings and appropriate coping strategies when presented with real or imagined situations with 80% accuracy on 4 out of 5 trials.
- When given a long term assignment, Mason will use his planner to break assignment up into mini due dates in 3 out of 5 trials as measured by data collection by December 2020.
- In preparation for a mock job interview, Mason will come prepared (ie dressed appropriately, on time, with resume etc.) 5/5 times as measured by checklist data by December 2020.
- Mason will improve insight on dysregulation as demonstrated by identifying the instances where he could have benefited from utilizing a tool to aid in regulation and determine what tool would have been beneficial for each instance with 80% accuracy.
- When given scenarios of social conflicts, Mason will demonstrate problem solving skills by identifying the problem and generating two solutions appropriate to the situation in 4/5 trials, as measured by data collection.
- Mason will organize his materials in a binder and will bring assignments to and from school with 80% accuracy as measured by binder checks and teacher records.
- Provided a situation when Mason feels frustrated Mason will express his emotions using words on 3 consecutive opportunities with no adult prompts as measured by data collection and observation by December 2020.
- By annual review, given the opportunity to participate in problem-solving discussions about situations that lead to frustration, Mason will state a concern identifying the who, what, where, or when and describe the problem to the collaborating adult 70% of the time as measured by evidence tracked on the Problem Solving Plan tracking sheet.
- By annual review, given the opportunity to participate in problem-solving discussions about situations that lead to frustration, Mason will propose a solution and discuss with the collaborating adult whether it is realistic and addresses the concerns of both and adult 70% of the time as measured by evidence tracked on the Problem Solving Plan tracking sheet.
Not sure if your IEP is written for real life? Head over here to grab your IEP Check Up and Review. After a 30 minutes phone call, I will be able to identify the areas of improvement based on what your priorities are for your child. Your child will be making progress towards real life goals sooner than expected.