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Dena:  My daughter is a senior in high school withdepression, anxiety, Asperger’s, and trichotillomania. Her case manager, Special Ed Teacher, cannot write IEP Goals to save her life! I have been writing the IEP Goals and re-writing them for 13 years because only 4 teachers have been capable of writing SMART goals in all these years. I am very concerned that the Special Ed Teachers are not learning this skill in their credential programs.  I refused to sign the latest IEP because the goals were vague and meaningless or just plain out-dated (one was never used, but still included on the form).

The mental health goal that the therapist wrote is vague and doesn’t state what new coping strategies she is teaching my daughter to use to cope with her anxiety and OCD symptoms. The evidence-based treatment should be CBT, with measurable goals for how my daughter will improve her ability to cope with stress. Without a measurable goal, the therapist just talks with my daughter casually for 30 minutes 1x/a week and that’s considered fine by them, but not for me. Therapy needs to be purpose-driven and have stated goals to be effective. As you can see, I’m beyond frustrated! Your thoughts, please.

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Jill G
04/13/2016 3:47 pm

Dena –

I think you hit the head on the nail, that many teachers/specialists are not learning these skills – neither during their training, nor during professional development.

For your own child, you’re doing what I would suggest, which is to propose your own goals. If they are resistant, you can have an outside professional write alternative goals and propose them (though I gather, with a senior, that this will soon become a mute point).

Beyond that, you can suggest that this topic be included in staff professional development in your district. The parent group I belong to suggested this for my local district, and even co-sponsored it (if you live in Mass or a surrounding state, I can suggest a great trainer).

You could also gift a few books to the district, to help them out.

“Writing Measurable IEP Goals and Objectives” is a standard, though anything by Barbara Bateman would be great (check them out at Attainment Company: http://www.attainmentcompany.com/professional-resources).