Goals must take into account safety, ethical and societal considerations when making decisions. When designing goals for elementary students, the IEP team should focus on the student's capability to respect his or her rights and others' rights: avoiding acts that provoke and hurt others wrongfully. At the middle-school level goals concentrate on fairness, compassion, honesty and respect in an evaluation of others' needs when making a decision. Goals in high school reach the level of personal responsibility in ethical decision-making. In essence, a high school student can apply ethical reasoning to assess societal procedures.
Decision-making goals in elementary school may also involve the identification of norms in society and safety as a behavior guide, and how this knowledge bears upon decision-making. Once a child reaches middle school, goals delve more into an analysis of the reasons both school and society maintain rules. In high school societal and authoritarian rules present expectations, so their influence on personal actions and decisions remains an assessment focus in goal making. How the culture and norms of society influence behavior and decisions is also evident in high school IEP goal creation.
In regards to creating decision-making goals that apply to the responsibility of school and social situations, elementary students identify the array of decisions to be made at school. They apply those decision-making steps systematically to a solution. Goal-setting for the middle-school student centers more on the analysis of how decision-making skills can improve academic performance through good study habits. The high school student will concentrate on information gathering for goals, creating alternatives to solutions and the expectations of decision consequences. Goals for high school students take into account how present decisions affect a future career or college choice. Goals that relate to all students reflect positive choices to foster classroom interaction and assessment strategies to avoid peer pressure and promote positive interpersonal and group relationships.
Additionally, the focus must not remain on personal individual goals but concentrate on the well-being of family, school, community and society. The elementary and middle-school student stays focused on decisions regarding contributions to the family and community through both evaluation and participation. High school students may plan and implement their own participation. Goals for the older students may involve cooperating with classmates and others in a project that addresses the needs of the entire community.