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How to tell if your child’s IEP goals are SMART

By Andrew M.I. Lee, JD

At a Glance

  • SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-oriented, and Time-bound.

  • Having SMART IEP goals can help your child get the most out of special education.

  • A SMART IEP goal will be realistic for your child to achieve and will lay out how your child will accomplish it.

Your child’s will have annual goals . These will lay out what your child will be working toward over the school year. For kids to get the most out of an IEP, the goals shouldn’t be vague or general. Instead, they should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-oriented, and Time-bound.

This chart shows you how to recognize a SMART IEP goal.

SMART stands forWhat that meansExample of a Non-SMART IEP goalExample of a SMART IEP goal
Specific

The goal is specific in naming the skill or subject area and the targeted result. Details matter!

Adam will be a better reader.

Adam will be able to read a passage orally in a grade-level book at 110–130 words per minute with random errors.

Measurable

The goal is stated in a way that your child’s progress can be measured. That can be done using standardized tests, curriculum-based measurements, or screening.

With the aid of a calculator, Emma will be able to solve math problems.

With the aid of a calculator, Emma will be able to solve math problems that involve the computation of fractions and decimals, with 75 percent accuracy.

Attainable

The goal represents progress that is realistic for your child.

Jackson will write at grade level, with no errors in spelling or punctuation.

Jackson will write a paragraph with at least 5 sentences each greater than 8 words, with no more than 2 errors in spelling and punctuation.

Results-oriented

The goal clearly lays out what your child will do to accomplish it.

During small group activities, Dana will be attentive to others.

During small group activities, Dana will look attentively toward the speaker of the group 90 percent of the time, in 4 out of 5 opportunities.

Time-bound

The goal includes a time frame in which your child will achieve it, with the right supports and services. It also states when and how often progress will be measured.

Jeremy will be able to orally explain class vocabulary words, with 90 percent accuracy, on 8 out of 10 tries.

His progress will be measured through a language assessment.

By May 15, Jeremy will be able to orally explain class vocabulary words, with 90 percent accuracy, on 8 out of 10 tries.

His progress will be measured through a monthly language assessment.

Making sure the IEP goals are SMART will help your child benefit from . For more help on developing annual IEP goals, take a look at a checklist of questions to ask . You may also want to view a sample IEP to see how your child’s goals fit into the overall document.

Have you heard of strengths-based IEPs? This type of IEP helps kids make progress by leveraging what they’re good at. See how your child’s SMART goals can be strengths-based , too.

Key Takeaways

  • IEP goals shouldn’t be vague or general.

  • A SMART IEP goal will say when and how often your child’s progress will be measured.

  • It’s important for IEP goals to be stated in a way that can be measured by standardized tests, curriculum-based measurements, or screening.

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  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom