Measurable Goals/Objectives

MSDE encourages teachers to write “SMART” goals/objectives. SMART is an acronym that stands for:

S Specific and descriptive
M Measurable
A Attainable and relevant
R Realistic and relevant
T Time limited (one year)

While I agree with the concept of making goals and/or objectives specific, measurable and attainable, I don’t think that the acronym “SMART” goes far enough. For example, who determines if a goal/objective is realistic? Given that we want students to make “meaningful progress” (more than a year’s growth in 1 school year), maybe the T should be “Time Sensitive (make the goal as quick as you can, so you can move on to another goal).

When I was a Special Education teacher in Pennsylvania, we taught teachers to write goals/objectives that contained 4 parts. In the article below, I am going to: tell you what the 4 parts are; give sample goals; and explain why I think this goal model leads to much better progress monitoring.

Parts of a measurable goal (or objective) –
– The exact circumstances under which the student’s progress will be tested.
Given 20 three-digit by two-digit multiplication problems and 10 minutes to solve them

Student’s name – self explanatory

Behavior – Passing score
will independently answer 16 or more problems correctly

Criteria – What the student must do to get this goal removed from their IEP
on 4 out of 5 weekly progress monitoring probes.

What this goal tells me is that:
1. Once a week, the student will be assessed on their progress.
2. If the student gets at least 16 problems correct without any help, they passed for the day.
3. If the student passes 4 out of 5 tests in a row, the goal is removed from their IEP

Sample Goals

Given 20 three digit- by two-digit multiplication problems and 10 minutes to solve them, Michael will independently answer 16 or more problems correctly on 4 out of 5 weekly progress monitoring probes

Given a story starter, one minute to plan, and three minutes to write, Michael will write 100 words or more related to the topic on 3 out of 4 weekly probes.

Given 10 word problems from the 4th grade curriculum, Michael will independently identify the relevant and extraneous data needed to solve the equation 100% of the time on 5 weekly progress monitoring probes.

Progress monitoring

In addition to being SMART, these goals have additional advantages including:
1. If progress monitoring says a student mastered a goal, and the parents aren’t seeing that behavior at home, the goal lists the exact “condition” under which the goal was mastered.
2. The weekly results can be graphed. When you connect the dots, if the line is going up, the student is making progress.
3. Weekly scores can be compared, because they were all collected one week apart. Therefore, you are comparing progress one week to progress another week.
4. There is a clear ending point to goals, so they don’t stay in the IEP longer because there is still 2 months left in the school year.
5. Early removal of goals opens more time to work on new goals.

In my experience, the most frequent component missing in Maryland IEP’s is the “Criteria”. Therefore, if you can get teachers to add this to your child’s IEP goals and/or objectibves, you will find that their IEP goals are significantly more measurable.

About speak45_wp

I graduated from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania in 1990 with a Bachelor’s in Special Education, and again in 1991 with a Master’s in Behavior Disorders. From 1991 to 2004, I worked as an Emotional Support Teacher in Southeast Pennsylvania. In July, 2004, upon graduation from Penn State University, I began working as a Pennsylvania Supervisor of Special Education until, shortly after my family and I moved to Maryland in October, 2013. In my 25 years of experience, I have: worked with students of varying ages and disabilities; participated in hundreds of IEP meetings; successfully implemented individualized services for thousands of students; and participated in dozens of due process cases. As a result, I am very familiar with the public education Special Education system policies, procedures, and services; as well as the potential road blocks parents may encounter in search for those services. In addition to my professional experience, I am also the father of two boys on the Autistic Spectrum. I know all too well what it feels like to: receive that diagnosis for the first time; work to learn all that you can about your child’s unique learning needs; try and educate and motivate school staff; passionately advocate for services (FAPE); get over emotional in IEP meetings; and fight vehemently with the school system to get the services you feel that your child deserves.

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