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Writing Effective and Appropriate IEP Goals and Objectives for Students with Learning Disabilities

written by: Deidra Alexander • edited by: Linda M. Rhinehart Neas • updated: 3/19/2013

Any student with a learning disability must have their own IEP (Individualized Education Program). This plan guides the education of the student throughout the entire school year. Create an effective and easy to implement IEP with sample goals and objectives.

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    Individual education plans include unique personal and medical information gathered on a student to serve their specific needs. An IEP should always be developed with the most current information establishing the student’s present performance levels and should be generally guided by educational standards. With this information, you will be well on your way to divising a well developed plan with measurable and justifiable goals.

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    Writing Goals and Objectives

    The first thing you should understand is that goals are long term. They should be written to cover a specific amount of time detailing a desired change in performance with objectives explaining how each goal will be systematically achieved.

    Goals should address your state’s requirements for learning but they should also be usable by anyone on the current IEP team and by anyone working with the child in the future. For instance, if the child moves, the IEP should be written in a way that anyone new to the student’s educational background can pick it up and be able to use it.

    Each goal listed within an IEP addresses the student's identifed learning deficit or surplus area determined through quantifiable evidence such as reading comprehension. Once this has been established, you can make a comparison between student need and educational standards. This is where many people run into problems in IEP development.

    There are Five Parts to an IEP Goal:

    1. Student’s current performance level.
    2. Content or functional area to be addressed.
    3. Expected improvement benchmark.
    4. Resources and materials that will be used to reach said goal.
    5. A concrete timeframe for expected improvement to occur.

    Here’s an example:

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    Goal Written in the IEP of a 3rd Grade Student with a Learning Disability

    Language Arts-Reading: (Student’s name) will read a 3rd grade passage and be able to comprehend its contents and decode 10 of the words contained therein with 70% accuracy within the next 29 weeks.

    Each subsequent objective should lay out a condition, the desired performance level, criteria they must meet for success, and information on assessment administration. For example:

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    Objectives

    Objective One: (Student’s name) will read one passage on a 2nd grade level and will be given two comprehension questions and one word to decode on a weekly basis. If he falls four points below the expected growth line he will be given the passage in an alternate format and given the same questions and words to decode. He will be given the material in alternate or combined formats until he meets the expected growth line…

    From the first objective to the last, increase criteria and list how success or failure to meet said criteria will be addressed and which methods will be used to do so. Creating objectives this way will show a clear path for the prescribed goal.

    Objective Four: (Student’s name) will be given five additional words to decode both on the 3rd grade and 4th grade levels within the 4th nine weeks of the 08-09 school year based on his performance as ordained by objective three for this goal. If he does not meet the objectives set forth, he will be presented the same or similar passages to comprehend and words to decode in alternative formats until he reaches 60% accuracy.

    Objective Five: (Student’s name) will read two passages and be introduced to text on the 4th grade level within the 4th nine weeks of the 08-09 school year pending his performance on objective three.

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    As previously stated, an IEP should be created in a way that’s easily adaptable, useable, and measurable. Using the format presented above, you can develop a solid IEP that brings forth the best results for the student it's being created for. Although the examples given here address reading comprehension alone, each one can be used as a guide to address any area that a student with a learning disability may be struggling in, such as math or specific behavior.


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