Updated: May 24
If an IEP goal is not met, it is not the end of the world. All that needs to be done is write a goal justification statement and accurately describe the student's present performance levels. This explains why the student did not meet the goal and what the partial growth looks like. We need to hold ourselves to the legal phrase "adequate years progress". If a goal can be reasonably explained and documented, there would be no reason to challenge the teacher or violate the IEP itself.
Never fall short of having great data for your IEP goals.
An IEP goal is just a goal. It is an anticipated progress point that an experienced special education teacher sets based on how the student has performed on previous goals, tasks, and learning experiences. In this article, we will explain how to write the progress report or present levels of performance statement based on what the student has mastered in the goal and what portions are still giving them challenges. Then the IEP team will decide whether to continue the goal with the remaining mastery levels in place or if the goal will get modified better to articulate the remaining skills and an appropriate objective progression. Let's begin sorting out what the options are and how they will look in the IEP.
We will use an 8th-grade standards-based solving equations IEP goal for this example.
Learning Standard, Solve linear equations with rational number coefficients, including equations whose solutions require expanding expressions using the distributive property and collecting like terms.
8.EE.C.7.B Target Goal By (date), when given problems with expressions and equations, the student will solve linear equations with rational number coefficients, including equations whose solutions require expanding expressions using the distributive property and collecting like terms improving expressions and equations skills from 0/10 work samples out of ten consecutive trials to 8/10 work samples in ten consecutive trials.
Solve one-step equations
By (date), when given a one-variable equation, the student will solve one-step equations including inverse operations of division and multiplication, improving expressions and equations skills from 0/10 problems out of ten consecutive trials to 8/10 problems in ten consecutive trials.
Solve two-step equations
By (date), when given a one-variable equation, the student will solve two-step equations including distribution, improving expressions and equations skills from 0/10 problems out of ten consecutive trials to 8/10 problems in ten consecutive trials.
Solve multistep equations
By (date), when given a one-variable equation including combining like terms, the student will solve multistep equations, including combining like terms, improving expressions and equations skills from 0/10 problems out of ten consecutive trials to 8/10 problems in ten consecutive trials.
Solve multistep equations with exponents
By (date), when given a one-variable equation, the student will solve for variables including inverse operations with exponents, improving expressions and equations skills from 0/10 problems out of ten consecutive trials to 8/10 problems in ten consecutive trials.
As special education teachers, we understand that it is not necessary to write goal objectives for standards-based IEP. However, when teaching a goal, objectives are essential to line out mile markers to teach the skill. This is where the progress monitoring statements get real easy to create. As you can see from the goal above, the student will start with singles step equations and then two-step with distribution.
Let's break this entire year into goal steps so you can see it logically.
Single Step Equations with the inverse operation of addition and subtraction 95% out of 100 problems given.
Single Step Equations with the inverse operation of multiplication and division 85% out of 100 problems given.
Two-Step Equations with distribution 65% out of 100 problems given.
Multistep Equations with combining like terms 50% out of 100 problems given.
Multistep Equations with exponents 0% out of 0 problems given (not yet practiced).
Independently these steps demonstrate what the student has been successful in the standards-based IEP goal and what they have yet to master. Many students will consistently solve single-step equations but struggle in distribution or combining like terms. In this situation, it is easier to explain to parents that the goal is to be continued yet modified to exclude the mastered areas.
The sample statement for the IEP present levels section might look like this:
Current classroom data reflects that the student can consistently solve for an unknown variable within one-step equations and equalities and inequalities. However, when the equations grow to multistep, and the order of operations includes distribution, combining like terms and integers, there are struggles and room for further remediation. Therefore, recommendations are that this goal is modified and adapted to the eighth-grade curriculum for additional practice on solving expressions and equations, specifically in equations that involve multiple steps.
Writing the new goal update the from point to reflect the 50% as the starting point because it was the lowest of the two required mastery skills and process for one more year. An alternate statement can be included that if this goal is met before one year, insert XYZ goal in its place. Parents will understand that you anticipate one year based on student progress so far, but if it moves faster, you are thinking ahead for maximum student support.
No parent on the planet would not be pleased with how the goal was progressing when the data is so clear and you have taken care to explain where you want to go from here.
More hand-picked content you might find helpful:
What do you do when an IEP writing goal is not met?
The first thing is not to panic! This is a common question that comes up during IEP meetings. Many times, meeting with the teacher of record and analyzing work samples can help identify why the goal was not met and possible solutions. As educators, we understand that goals need to be modified and adapted when needed so that the student is constantly making progress.
Student work sample analysis
By critically reviewing work samples, the teacher of record can get an idea of what skill the student is struggling with and create a plan to remediate. If the goal the student work it will be easy to determine where the student strengths are and where there are still weaknesses. This data can then be used to help create a new goal that is adapted to the student's current level of mastery.
Regular progress monitoring will help to ensure that the student is making adequate progress and is on track to meet the goal. If it becomes evident that the student is not going to be able to meet the goal within the set time frame, modifications will need to be made. This could mean extending the amount of time given to reach the goal or changing the goal altogether.
It is important to always keep the student's best interests in mind and make sure that they are constantly progressing. Meeting with the parents to discuss these options is always a good idea so they understand what is happening and why.
Here are writing goals and places where the goals as written allowed for only a partial meeting of the goal.
The student will be able to complete a paragraph with a topic sentence, 3 supporting details, and a conclusion.
This could have been avoided if the goal was more strategically planned to start with two supporting details and build up to the three. The teacher of record could have analyzed student work samples to see where the student was struggling with this skill and then created a plan to remediate.
Here are a few examples of alternate ways to write IEP goals as a set so that the student has a better chance of fully meeting the goal and work on it in smaller manageable steps: