The IEP Must Contain Measurable Goals!
By Hillary D. Freeman
The goals in an IEP represent what the IEP team expects the child to be able to accomplish within the period of one year with the assistance of the services and supports that are specified in the IEP.
The goals in a student’s IEP are to be annual goals. This means that under normal circumstances, they should be accomplished within one year. They should not be long-term or lifelong goals. For example, a goal that states that a student will behave appropriately is no more useful in an IEP than a goal that states that he or she will be happy. These are perfectly acceptable, even laudable, life-long goals, but they have no place in an IEP. To the extent that the annual goals are not accomplished within a year, this should serve as a signal that either the IEP is not producing the intended level of progress or that the goals were not written correctly in the first place.
The goals work hand-in-hand with the Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance ("PLAAFP") statement. The PLAAFP is the starting point; the goals are the finish line. For this reason, it is essential to ensure that the PLAAFP and the goals are well aligned. To the extent that a need is identified in the PLAAFP statement, there should be at least one annual goal addressing it. Too often, IEP teams do not correlate the goals of the IEP with the information about the student’s needs as identified in the PLEP statement.
For the reasons set forth above, it is vital that the IEP team reviews the goals at least annually to assess the student’s progress and modify the IEP accordingly. It is important to make sure that all IEP goals are challenging for the student and the “criteria for mastery” is specific. Without this, it will be difficult to determine whether the student requires increased or different instruction to help master his or her goals.
Freeman Law Offices, LLC is available to assist you in securing an appropriate IEP for your son or daughter. Please call at (609) 454-5609 or email us through our website for help.