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Individualized Education Program (IEP) Goals: The Basics

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By GreatSchools Staff

When Can You Expect Progress Reports on the Goals?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that your child's IEP include a description of how the child's progress toward the annual goals will be measured, and when periodic reports of progress toward annual goals will be provided. Although short-term objectives are no longer required under IDEA 2004 for most students, parents may continue to request that annual goals contain additional information about the interim points of achievement that clearly indicate that the goal will be reached by year's end. Nothing in IDEA 2004 prohibits the development of short-term objectives. Periodic reports on your child's progress toward his IEP goals should be issued at least as often as those issued to parents of students without a disability, for example, at the same time report cards are issued. The two examples below show what a progress report on improvement of a child's math computation skills within a single grading period might look like:

  • At the end of the first grading period, given 10 problems requiring two-digit plus two-digit addition without renaming (regrouping/carrying)(e.g., 14 + 11=), Sammy wrote the sums with 80% accuracy, as measured by a valid, curriculum-based assessment.
  • At the end of the second grading period, given 10 problems requiring two-digit plus two-digit addition with renaming (e.g., 14 + 18 =), Sammy wrote the sums with 80% accuracy, as measured by a valid, curriculum-based assessment.

Remember that you can also schedule an informal conference with the special education teacher to see how your child is doing. As the parent of a child with an IEP, you should communicate regularly with teachers and other school professionals, to ensure that your child is making measurable progress toward his IEP goals (and objectives and benchmarks, if applicable), so that you won't be in for "surprises" a few months down the road.

What if There's No Progress?

Sometimes parents and schools have different ideas about whether progress is being made toward a child's IEP goals or how quickly it's happening. Ideally, for academic deficits in reading and math, your child's IEP goals would be aligned with your state's academic content standards, but expectations must also be realistic. If your child is three grade levels behind his classmates in reading, he probably won't be able to catch up to them in a year, but he should make progress in closing the gap. If, after talking with the teacher about your child's lack of progress toward IEP goals you are still concerned, ask for an IEP review meeting. You can do this by writing a letter to the principal of your child's school or to the school district's special education administrator, and sending copies to the staff who work with your child.

Updated January 2010

Comments from readers

"I am working on the profile of a student, and the blank forms have been sent to me by a relative, but the scanned copies are bad and some information is missing or illegible. Could I have model forms A, B 1-2-3, C and D? I would really appreciate that. By the way, browsing the website has helped a lot. "
"I have a question (if you don't mind)... When a goal in put in the IEP and it states that a student will decode regualr multisyllabic words with 80% accuracy on 2 of 3 trials - does this seem like it would produce an accurate assessment? Shouldn't there either be more of a consistent evaluation method - like once a week? Also, shouldn't the students intial score betaken into considertation (instead of only counting the 2 highest of the 3)???? It seems like they are giving my son really easy goals and they make it a point to say how successful his accommodations are working out for him. What do you think? "