How to Write IEP Goals for Language
IEP meetings can be stressful for everyone involved. We often have a massive list of goals to achieve with students in what feels like a short period of time. IEP goal writing is mostly just the language you use to explain what the concerns are, how they will be addressed, and what the outcome should be. Though we are the language experts, it can still be a daunting task until we break it down.
Know Your Areas of Concern
The IEP needs to be individualized for the child. Do not allow yourself to take shortcuts with a one size fits all approach. Each IEP for the child should show change or progress each year. An IEP that has no changes from year to year is a problem.
Remember you are only focusing on the issues related to language as it connects to the classroom and the child educationally. The teachers and the parents may have other concerns but your focus here is how the child’s language affects their success in the classroom.
Begin by writing down all of the issues the child has as it relates to language. Keep in the back of your mind that goals should align with a child’s skill assessments, state benchmarks, and standards but it should not be the overall focus.
Making the IEP Specific and Actionable
The goals of the IEP should be very specific. Focus on the most important of the skills the child has difficulty with. These will become your goals to meet. Each of these concerns need to be addressed in the IEP. The best way to do that is to put the areas of concern into a basic observable statement that explains the outcome or behavior you want to achieve.
One of the most widely used methods to goal writing is S.M.A.R.T goal writing; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relative, and Time-Bound. Your IEP goals should include each of these elements. Think of writing the IEP goals so that any substitute or other speech pathologists could come in and instruct the student. A well written IEP goal will answer these questions:
- When will the child master the goal?
- What specific skill will the child do?
- Where will the skill be measured?
- How will progress be measured?
- How accurate will the child be? (3 out of 4 instances? 80%?)
- What cues, prompts or supports can the child have?
From there you can further break down into objectives, listing benchmarks, evaluation methods, and schedule. One thing to note, the IEP goals must be written so parents can understand them. Benchmarks should follow the logical progression of the overall goal.
IEP writing can feel like a tedious and frustrating process; one that you may try to avoid or put off. Breaking down the process into Areas of Concern, create an overall goal using S.M.A.R.T goals, and benchmarks, or mini-goals can make the process smoother.