Main Concepts Behind Special Education IEP Goals | Teach Tastic

Updated: May 24

As a teacher, you may have students who require extra assistance in order to be successful in the classroom. If you have a student who has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), it is important that you understand the basics of IEP goals and writing them. This includes understanding what an IEP goal is, how to write a goal, types of goals, examples of good goals and bad goals, and key takeaways for writing your own IEP goal.


One of the most common challenges teachers have with IEP goals is correctly interpreting or writing them. This can be a challenge because there are many factors that go into making a good IEP goal.


In this article, we will discuss the main concepts for IEP goals. We will cover what an IEP goal is, how to write a goal, types of goals, examples of good goals and bad goals, and key takeaways for writing your own IEP goal.


What are annual goals?

Annual goals for IEP students are statements of measurable objectives that are aligned with the content standards in your state. IEP goals are expected to be achieved within the one-year timeframe of the IEP.


Why are annual goals important?

Annual goals are important because they measure a student’s progress and help to determine if the student is making adequate yearly progress (AYP) towards meeting their educational goals.


What should be included in an annual goal?

Annual goals should always be written around a documented need that is preventing a student from progressing in the general education settings or curriculum. This could include academics such as reading and writing as well as social-emotional skills and behaviors. Each goal will include a strategy that the student will master in order to complete the goal.


Annual goals should include the following:

  • The student’s name and grade level

  • A measurable objective

  • The content standard that the objective is aligned with

How do I write a goal?

When writing a goal, it is important to keep the following in mind:

  • The goal should be measurable and observable

  • The goal should be achievable and realistic

  • The goal should be specific and concise

  • The goal should include the student’s name and grade level

How do I know if my goal is good or bad?

There are a few things to look for when determining if your goal is good or bad. Below are a few tips:

  • Bad goals tend to be vague and unmeasurable

  • Good goals are specific, measurable, and achievable

  • Bad goals are often repetitive to what is already being done in the classroom

  • Good goals focus on a specific need that has been identified

  • Bad goals can be easily accomplished without an IEP

  • Good goals are challenging yet achievable

Types of IEP goals

There are three main types of IEP goals:

  • Academic goals

  • Behavioral goals

  • Social-emotional goals

Let’s take a closer look at each type:

Academic goals: Academic goals are goals that focus on a student’s academic progress. This could include reading and writing skills, math skills, and science concepts.

Behavioral goals: Behavioral goals are goals that focus on a student’s social and emotional skills. This could include goals to improve attention span, follow directions, or stay on task.

Social-emotional goals: Social-emotional goals are goals that focus on a student’s social and emotional skills. This could include goals to improve social interactions with peers, big problems and little problems, or emotional regulation.

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How should annual goals be linked to state standards?

Annual goals must be aligned to the curriculum standards in your state. This is usually done by matching the academic objectives in the annual goal to the specific content standards in your state. You can find a list of the content standards in your state on your state’s Department of Education website.


What is AYP?

AYP is short for Adequate Yearly Progress. AYP is a measure that is used to determine if a student with an IEP is making progress towards their educational goals. AYP is determined by measuring the student’s academic progress against the annual goal(s) that have been set for them.


What is a goal hierarchy?

A goal hierarchy is a way of organizing annual goals into levels of importance. The goal hierarchy helps to ensure that all goals are aligned to the student’s needs and that the most important goals are being targeted first. The goal hierarchy should include the following levels:

Core goals: These are the most important goals for the student and should be targeted first

Secondary goals: These are goals that are important, but may not be as critical as the core goals

Tertiary goals: These are less important goals that can be targeted once the core and secondary goals have been met.


How do I know if my goal is aligned with state standards?

You can check to see if your goal is aligned to state standards by looking for the objective in the annual goal that matches a specific content standard in your state. You can also look for the content standard number on your state’s Department of Education website.


What is a progress monitoring tool?

A progress monitoring tool is a way to measure a student’s progress toward their annual goal(s). A progress monitoring tool can be used to track a student’s progress on a regular basis. This allows educators to identify if the student is making progress and to make changes to the annual goal(s) if needed.


What are the benefits of progress monitoring?

There are a few benefits to using progress monitoring:

  • It helps to ensure that all goals are aligned to the student’s needs

  • It allows educators to identify if the student is making progress and to make changes to the annual goal(s) if needed

  • It can help to improve student achievement

  • It can help to reduce the need for special education services

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