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The Special Education Survival Guide by Pam & Pete Wright
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Wrightslaw Game Plan:
"I know my son's IEP is wholly inadequate. The school’s IEP goal for him is "Commitment to academic success." If "Commitment to academic success" is not an appropriate goal, what should I propose in its place?"
MARY writes: "Help! I need good IEP goals and objectives!"
"I need to get my hands on some good I.E.P. goals and objectives. I haven't had enough experience with this and need to feel more secure in this area."
THE "IEP PROBLEM"
You are both asking for help in writing IEP goals and objectives. Diane is a parent, Mary is about to graduate from a special education program. You represent dozens of people who write to us every week asking questions about IEPs.
Why are IEP goals and objectives so difficult? What makes this IEP process so confusing?
When you ask for "good IEP goals and objectives," you are putting the cart before the horse!
Before you can write ANY IEP goals or objectives, you must first identify the individual child’s unique needs -- and must be able to define these needs clearly and specifically.
You know that the child’s IEP must include "present levels of performance." The present levels of performance should describe the child’s unique needs that result from the disability.
The IEP must also include a plan to meet ALL the child’s unique needs. The IEP should tell you exactly what the school will do to address the child’s needs. Finally, the IEP should give you a way to know if the IEP (educational plan) is working.
Annual goals must be objective and measurable.
Why? IEP goals and objectives must be measurable so you can tell if the child is making progress! Measurable goals and objectives provide a way for you to evaluate whether the special education services that being provided are working (accountability!).
Assume that your child has a language learning disability like dyslexia. The child’s skills in reading, writing, spelling and math should be measured before the child enters special education and at frequent intervals thereafter.
IEP goals tell you what the child should accomplish in one year IF the services being provided are effective.
This statement (citation follows) summarizes the IEP process:
"The heart of better IEP development is a sequential, three-fold inquiry made by the IEP team:
(1) What are this child’s unique educational characteristics / needs that must be taken into account in a truly individualized education program?
(From "Better IEPs: How to Develop Legally Correct & Educationally Useful Programs" by Barbara Bateman and Mary Anne Linden, page 91)
When you begin this process by analyzing the child’s present levels of functioning (on objective tests), the IEP process is less confusing. If you begin by trying to find "good goals and objectives," you’ll probably fail because the goals and objectives won’t relate to your child.
Pete says the IEP that Florence County prepared for Shannon Carter is one of the better written IEPs he has seen. Why? Florence County's IEP included two clear, measurable goals:
* Shannon will progress from the 5.4 to the 5.8 grade level in reading as measured by the Woodcock Johnson Reading Mastery Test *
What was the problem with this IEP? The goals were set too low. Shannon was about to enter 10th grade. If she met these goals, she would fall even further behind.
YOUR "IEP GAME PLAN"
Here is your game plan. First, download files from the Wrightslaw Libraries (list follows). Next, get a copy of the recommended book at your local library or bookstore.
IEP INFO FROM WRIGHTSLAW
Download and print the following articles from Wrightslaw. Plan on reading these articles more than once.
UNDERSTANDING TESTS & MEASUREMENTS
Get your personal copy of "Understanding Tests and Measurements" at
Assume that your child has reading problems. To remedy these reading problems, your child has received special education services -- for three years. Has your child caught up with the peer group? Has your child fallen further behind?
What do standard scores, percentile ranks, subtest scores, and age and grade equivalents mean?
This article is required reading for ALL of our parents. To successfully negotiate for services that provide REAL educational benefit, you must learn how to interpret educational and psychological test scores.
NOTE FROM WRIGHTSLAW: When you download this article, make sure you get the graphics. It may be better to print article from the screen (rather than download it) to ensure that you have the graphics.
"Understanding Tests and Measurements" was the lead article on the LD Online site last week!
YOUR CHILD’S IEP:
(The companion article to "Understanding Tests and Measurements")
IEP GOALS & OBJECTIVES:
Appendix A includes 40 Questions and Answers about IEPS. You need to get a copy of Appendix A to the federal regulations. Appendix A discusses requirements for IEPs, IEP meetings and teams, the parental role, transition, and other important issues.
Appendix A is in WRIGHTSLAW: SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW.
You can also download a FREE copy of Appendix A from Wrightslaw --
Get a copy of "BETTER IEPS: HOW TO DEVELOP LEGALLY CORRECT AND EDUCATIONALLY USEFUL PROGRAMS" by Barbara Bateman and Mary Anne Linden
BETTER IEPs contains clear, simple instructions about how to develop IEPs, including IEP goals and objectives.
BETTER IEPs is divided into the following areas:
Chapter One: The IEP in PerspectiveBETTER IEPs includes Appendices about the IDEA Statute (1997), IDEA Regulations (Proposed), Model Notice to Parents of Procedural Safeguards, and References
BETTER IEPS is hard to get through a retail bookstore. You can order BETTER IEPs through The Advocate’s Bookstore. Go to the Legal Section of the Bookstore at
While you’re waiting for BETTER IEPS to arrive, go to LD Online and download the article, "WRITING IEPS FOR SUCCESS" by Dr. Bateman.
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