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Short Term Objectives & Benchmarks

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Essential Elements

Key Question: What will the child need to be able to do to achieve each goal?

How do we get to the goals?

What are the intermediate steps(short-term objectives) to achieving the goal?


What are the major milestones(benchmarks) to achieving the goal?

Purpose: To outline measurable, intermediate steps between a student's present level of performance and the annual goal.

Definition: Short term objectives - intermediate steps to a goal
Benchmarks - major milestones to a goal

Key Characteristics:

  • Measurable
  • Minimum of 2 per goal
  • A logical breakdown of the major components of an annual goal
  • General indicators of progress, not a detailed instructional plan
  • Specifies the behavior to be performed
  • Short term objectives often specify conditions under which the child will perform the behavior
  • Benchmarks often indicate a time frame
  • May be a precursor step or a building block skill
  • May be sequential (crawl, then walk) or parallel (decode accurately and understand what is read)

Writing Strategy: Describe the behavior the child will be doing when the short-term objective or benchmark is achieved.


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Our thanks to the staff of Cooperative Educational Service Agency #7 (CESA) for permission to use this document. This district was the winner of the Wrightslaw "Best School Sites Contest."



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