Measurable IEP Goals and Objectives

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

As educators or professionals who work in the education system, we’ve dedicated ourselves to providing a child’s education and to nurture their growth. Although, it may not be realistic to tend to every developmental need of a child, there’s always the possibility that one of your students may need more resources than you can provide as a solo teacher.


When you have a student that meets that description, you may consider requesting an IEP. An Individualized Education Plan (or Program), also known as an IEP, is a plan to identify where a child struggles academically or behaviorally and create goals and objectives to get them where they need to be in their education.


But not all students that teachers request an IEP for may be approved for one. There are two conditions that need to be met in order for them to qualify for an IEP under federal law:


  1. The student must be diagnosed with having a disability under the 13 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) categories.
  2. The school must agree that the student needs special education to progress in their education.


Once those are met, parental consent is required. Ultimately, a parent may decide to decline special education services. Make sure to let them know all of the benefits that the student can receive from the extra resources. And be prepared to have all the paperwork to back you up before having a meeting with them. That way when it comes to your discussion, you are more likely to convince them to approve. And once you have all parties involved give their approval, then an IEP team is formed to decide on measurable goals and objectives for the student’s IEP. 



When it comes to deciding the goals for the student’s IEP, the goals are more broad and long-term compared to the objectives, but be sure that they are achievable. The IEP team will decide goals based on a student’s current academic levels, learning differences, and looking at what subjects that student tends to experience challenges with in a traditional setting. 


An IEP can also include goals based on the behaviors that their teachers are concerned about or looking to further develop.

The key to having goals that you can measure is in the language you set when listing them. Use SMART goals when creating your goals and objectives. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Be sure that your team uses terms that are specific to the area of concern and use action words that are measurable. Are the goals attainable and relevant to the subject? And be sure to set a time for when their goals should be achieved, so that the student and teacher are kept accountable.


Here are a few examples of improperly worded goals:


  • DJ will get better at math.
  • Christine won’t be bad.
  • Daryl will improve on reading.
  • During class, Jenny will be respectful.


These goals are not specific enough. With the first example you’ll have to ask the question, “At what point will DJ be considered better at math?” OR in the second example, all students can act up every now and then, but it isn’t enough to make an IEP for. So what specific actions were found as adverse behavior? And what does the outcome look like for when that behavior is resolved?


Here are examples of specific and measurable goals:


  • By the end of Everly’s 1st quarter of fourth grade, she will complete 30 multiplication problems within a minute and get 20 out of 30 of the problems correct
  • In 3 month’s time, Jaden, who is a kindergartener, will decrease the amount of tantrums in class from 2-3 times a week to 1-2 times a month.. 
  • By the time Cindy finishes the school year, she will read grade-level passages at 90% accuracy.


These are great goals to have in an IEP. Notice that the goals give a timeframe and are specific to the subject and are measurable. When you have all the goals prepared, it’s best to come up with short-term objectives for the student to achieve along the way.



Unlike the goals, the objectives are meant to be achieved in a shorter period of time and can be easily adjusted. When your IEP team has goals in place, you have to create a plan on how they will be achieved. So objectives are necessary to measure the progress of their goals. Each special education student will go through close progress monitoring to ensure they are on track to success.


Objectives will be even more specific goals and stepping stones for the initial goals that were made. Think of them as several levels the student needs to achieve before victory, or as stairs and every objective is a step upwards.


Here are examples of great objectives:


  • Kevin will practice memorizing the two’s portion of the multiplication table 10 minutes a day and have it memorized in two weeks.
  • Angel will read a grade level book and look up and learn 3 new words every other week. 
  • By the end of the month, Mikey will need to avoid 3 opportunities for tantrums towards other students and instead express his concerns with his teacher independently of his anger.


These objectives are great because they are short term and are specific in what actions to take and how to measure their success. They are also open to additional objectives to follow. 


IEPs are incredibly helpful for students who may not thrive in traditional classroom environments or set ups.


Now that you’ve learned how to create measurable goals and objectives, you are ready to begin your progress monitoring and your students will finally get the support they need. 


Sign up for a free 30-day trial with TARA to set up your progress monitoring in time for the new school year! Try TARA’s SPED HQ free today.

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