Understanding IEP Goals

IEP goals are the specific details in your child's plan that describe what they should accomplish during the school year.  Since IDEA does not dictate what should be addressed in a child's plan, the details are up to the IEP team. The law is specifically written in vague terms to give the team great flexibility when developing what is appropriate for each individual child.

The first component in developing goals is to determine the child’s current level of performance. This is written in the IEP by the special education teacher or caseworker and explains how the child is currently functioning with regards to academics and social behavior.

The plan should state the expectations for a child’s performance as well as what services they will receive.  It should also address specific academic subjects or social, behavioral or emotional issues.

Normally, the child’s classroom teacher is responsible for implementing the IEP. Specialists can also be held accountable. These include speech therapists, occupational or physical therapists, school counselors, psychologists, resource specialists or special day teachers.

Benchmarks are normally written for a one-year time period. IDEA requires that goals be measurable.  The IEP must describe how a child’s progress will be measured. It can be assessed through objective tests, observations, work samples, grades and test scores.


  • Missy will recognize and define 10 new vocabulary words each week.
  • James will master the concept of measuring in inches and feet with 90% accuracy.
  • Anna will demonstrate with 75% accuracy that she can generate short sentences consisting of 10 words.
  • Conner will demonstrate with 80% accuracy pronunciation of the ‘th” sound.
  • Joey will improve his relationships with peers and develop at least 3 strategies for solving conflict.
  • By the end of the first semester, Juan will be able to write a five paragraph essay following the steps classroom rubric.

At any time, if you feel your child's needs are not being met, you should ask your caseworker for an IEP meeting.  The Independent Education Plan is a working document that can be altered at any time.

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