Teacher and Pupil

Student Strengths

Student strength lists and how to writing a clear and positive student strengths profile for an IEP

Student Strengths By Category Lists

Strengths vary widely from student to student. It is our duty as special education instructors to discover and publicize those assets in order to develop them further.

Tip - The list below is by no means all-inclusive. It is merely a representation or guideline to get you thinking on the right track.

Strengths of the student by character, work habits, academics and classroom behavior

Starting with character strengths begins to paint a picture of how the student positively impacts the learning environment. This can describe how peers perceive them or how they interact with the learning environment as a whole.

__ Honest in actions
__ Does not deceive, cheat or steal 
__ Reliable
__ Courageous
__ Loyal to friends 
__ Keeps promises

__ Treat others with respect
__ Tolerant and accepting of differences
__ Has good manners
__ Does not use bad language
__ Considerate of the feelings of others
__ Does not threaten, hit or hurt anyone
__ Deals with anger, insults, and disagreements peacefully


__ Does what they are supposed to do
__ Plans ahead
__ Is diligent
__ Perseveres through challenges
__ Does their best work
__ Uses self-control
__ Is self-disciplined
__ Thinks before acting
__ Is accountable for words and actions

__ Sets a good example for others
__ Chooses a positive attitude


__ Plays by the rules
__ Take turns and share
__ Be open-minded; listen to others
__ Don’t take advantage of others
__ Don’t blame others carelessly
__ Treat all people fairly


__ Is kind
__ Is compassionate
__ Shows Empathy
__ Expresses gratitude
__ Forgives others
__ Helps people in need
__ Is charitable and altruistic


__ Gets involved in school affairs
__ Follows classroom and school rules
__ Respects authority
__ Protects the environment
__ Volunteers

Narrative example: 

  1. Jenny is helpful in class and eager to learn new concepts. When working towards an IEP goal, she has a growth mindset and perceivers through challenges.

  2. José is caring and kind and demonstrates loyalty in friendship. When working towards an IEP goal, he is curious about new material and is open to new ideas.

Work Habits and Academics

__ Organizes materials 
__ Comes prepared to class
__ Turns in work on time
__ Strong work organization skills
__ Follows routines well
__ Keeps track of time and obligations 
__ Understands and sets goals

__ Can plan ahead
__ Is a self-starter
__ Can ignore distractions
__ Flexible thinker
__ Good working memory
__ At grade level work in reading
__ At grade level work in writing
__ At grade level work in math

Classroom Behavior

__ Can learn from mistakes
__ Self-advocates/asks for help
__ Can work or play independently
__ Works well/gets along well one-on-one
__ Works well/gets along well in groups

__ Consistent class participation
__ Accept consequences appropriately
__ Respects property of others 
__ Respects personal space of others 
__ Respects uniqueness of others

Narrative example: 

Jenny actively participates in class discussions and engages well in peer to peer work groups. When working towards an IEP goal, she will ask for help when needed and accept help when offered.

José follows classroom rules and expectations and actively participates in table groups. When working in the classroom, he will accept help when offered if it is done quietly.

Writing a student strengths section of an IEP

When you have a structure to help you, developing a student strength statement is not difficult. A well-rounded statement includes several areas of strength with up to three options from each. Keep it basic and straightforward, but be truthful in your choice. Always seek parental and general education teacher input before choosing which strengths to highlight the student.

Student Strengths Statement framework

When writing a profile of the student's strength, think about the child as a whole. 

  1. What are the strengths that make the student academically successful? 

  2. What are strengths that the student has that makes him/her socially adaptable or socially accepted? 


Both of these questions lead to academic and behavioral success in the classroom. Both items combined will be at the forefront of any student's strength profile. ​​

Sam has a strong character, is eager to learn, and is curious about a new subject. In his classroom behavior, he demonstrates responsibility by coming prepared to class with materials ready to learn. His positive work habits show that he follows rules and routines, can ignore distractions, and is a self starter in classroom activities.  

Use this framework to help guide the writing process:
__________ has a strong character, is _______________, and is _______________. In his/her classroom behavior, he/she demonstrates responsibility by _______________. His/her positive work habits show that he/she _______________, can _______________, and _______________.  

Megan is a hard worker in class. Her math skills are a strength, as are her social skills. She enjoys working with peers and completes tasks on time.

__________ is a hard worker in class. Her/His __________ skills are a strength, as are her/his __________ skills. She/He enjoys __________ and __________ .

Sentence starters for student strengths statement in an IEP

These helpful sentence starter can be best used with the assistance of the student and parents.  Have them fill out what their best answer are and then compare to find commonalities.

__________ is best at…
__________ has an amazing ability to…

__________ always takes pride in his/her work when…
__________ is frequently recognized for…
__________ participates the most when…
__________ does this better than any other student…

__________ is highly motivated by…
__________ is highly interested in…