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Appropriate Annual Goals
by Suzanne Whitney, Research Editor, Wrightslaw

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Girl in classIs this annual goal written correctly for a high school freshman?

The Team wrote:

Judy will improve reading comprehension skills by using graphic organizers to access the curriculum with 70% accuracy per quarter.

The Short Term Objectives are:

1. Judy will summarize or bullet important information in a variety of reading material with 70% accuracy.

2. Judy will recall specific facts, information & details after reading a variety of texts with 70% accuracy.

3. Judy will summarize a passage or story, relating essential components with 70% accuracy.

4. Judy will use vocabulary to identify the characters, setting, events, problems & solution in a story passage with 70% accuracy per quarter.

This seems so vague to me. Should it state the present levels?

Writing Measurable Goals

This goal makes no sense. How do I improve something with 70% accuracy? Even if I could do that, how would we know I had not improved with 62% accuracy?

All goals need present levels so that we know where we are starting.

If my goal is to type 40 words-per-minute, and I already type 38 words-per-minute, the goal is inappropriate as an annual goal. Although as a weekly goal it would be fine. If my present level of performance is 20 words per minute then the annual goal of 40 words-per-minute could be very appropriate.

How do I summarize with 70% accuracy? How do we know I have not done it with 40% accuracy? I have no idea how you would measure any of these.


This is an excellent book on writing goals. Writing Measurable IEP Goals and Objectives by Barbara Bateman.

This is an excellent article by the same author. Writing Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for Success by Barbara Bateman.

This material on Writing IEP Goals is from another school district and may be more easily accepted by some team members.

Your Assignment

Read both articles.

1. Print the articles and go through each of the goal areas. Determine:

  • a present level of performance on each item
  • a goal to bring the item to grade level (or at least more than a year progress in a year so that the gap will close)
  • a measurement that will show that the present level of performance has changed

2. Print a copy of your state curriculum frameworks. These will tell you and the team what children in that grade should be taught by the end of the year to prepare them for the next grade. You will find your state curriculum frameworks or academic standards on your state Department of Education website.

3. Once you have finished fixing the existing goals, go back and look at the evaluations and the initial parts of the IEP.

  • Are all concerns noted in the evaluation also noted in the IEP and addressed with goals?
  • Are there any accommodations that really should be goal areas?
  • If your child masters all the goals, will he be at grade level in these skills?
  • Is there anything your child will still need?

If there is something else that needs to be considered, then address that in this IEP, too.

Looking Forward to Graduation

Your child may need an extended day or extended year program to get the specialized instruction without missing classes he/she needs to earn credits toward graduation. Make sure you know now what colleges will want for classes so that they are all accomplished by the time graduation comes.

At age 16 the IEP is driven by the transition plan. Make sure that is strong enough. Barbara Bateman's article addresses transition.

New Hampshire Department of Edcuation has a Transition Manual that includes a checklist and a good worksheet for you to use to think through transition issues.

Remember, this is a NH document where the age is 14. Check your state regulations for the transition age requirements in your state.

Comprehensive Evaluation

Have you had a private sector evaluation recently?

It may be that these "comprehension goals" really should be decoding or oral language, or phonological awareness goals.

  • Do the most recent evaluations confirm that comprehension is the issue and that decoding and phonological awareness and oral language are not problems?
  • Is spelling and written expression a problem?

Reread the evaluations to make sure you understand the test data . If you have not had a private sector evaluation recently I would have one done.

Understanding Your Child's Test Scores. Wrightslaw Multimedia Training on CD-ROM will teach you about the bell curve, mean, and standard deviations. You'll learn how to draw the bell curve and how to use your child's test scores to create powerful progress graphs. You will also learn about standard scores, percentile ranks, subtest scores, composite or cluster scores, and subtest scatter.

Revised: 10/18/10
Created: 05/14/10


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