IEP goals for reading: What they look like

By The Understood Team

At a glance

  • Your child should have an IEP goal associated with each type of reading struggle.

  • IEP goals should reflect state academic standards, and they should be SMART and strengths-based.

  • You can look at these typical IEP goals for reading to get a sense of what your child’s goals may look like.

Your child has reading issues and just qualified for an IEP. You know the plan will include goals for progress. But what does a typical IEP goal for reading look like?

Different kids can struggle with different skills related to reading — like decoding, comprehension, or fluency. Each child’s IEP should have specific goals related to each area of weakness. 

But all IEP goals for reading share some common features:

Below are sample IEP goals associated with six reading skills.

1. Reading skill: Decoding

Academic Standard: Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words. Decode multisyllabic words.

Sample IEP Goal: By the end of the IEP period, when given a list of 40 multisyllabic words containing closed, open, consonant-vowel-e, and vowel team syllable types, the student will be able to decode 36/40 words correctly as measured by teacher records.

What This Means: This sample IEP goal focuses on the ability to decode longer words. It lists several types of syllables. The goal is that the student will be able to correctly sound out 36 out of 40 of the words with these types of syllables.

2. Reading skill: Fluency

Academic Standard: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension. Read grade-level prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings.

Sample IEP Goal: By the end of the school year, the student will read grade-level text orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression at 90 words per minute with 90% accuracy, as measured by teacher records on three consecutive occasions.

What This Means: This sample IEP goal aims to have a child read quickly and accurately by the end of the year. It’s specific about how progress will be measured.

3. Reading skill: Finding key ideas and details

Academic Standard: Determine the main idea of a text. Recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea.

Sample IEP Goal: By the end of the IEP period, when given a grade-level nonfiction passage, the student will identify the main idea and provide at least three details related to the main idea with 90% accuracy in three out of four trials.

What This Means: This sample IEP goal focuses on the ability to find the main idea of a text. (This skill is important for reading comprehension.) Three times out of four, the student needs to be able to correctly identify the main idea plus three details that support the main idea. 

4. Reading skill: Making inferences

Academic Standard: Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

Sample IEP Goal: By the end of the third quarter, given a grade-level text, the student will support inferences with at least three pieces of text-based evidence with 80% accuracy on two out of three assignments or assessments.

What This Means: This sample IEP goal targets making inferences. That’s the ability to “read between the lines” when reading. The student needs to state what the text literally says — plus what it might really mean. Two times out of three, the student must back up those inferences with evidence, with at least 80 percent accuracy.

5. Reading skill: Comprehension

Academic Standard: By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in grade-level text complexity band, proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

Sample IEP Goal: By the end of the year, the student will demonstrate grade-level independent reading ability on literature passages as measured by the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA), the Qualitative Reading Inventory (QRI-5), or the Star Reading assessment.

What This Means: Reading at grade level is a major challenge for many students with IEPs. This sample IEP goal measures comprehension with a variety of research-based reading tests, like the DRA, QRI-5, and Star. Using measurement tests is common in IEP goals for reading.

6. Reading skill: Vocabulary

Academic Standard: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade-level reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

Sample IEP Goal: By the end of the school year, the student will use context clues and other strategies, such as consulting a dictionary, to help determine the meaning of unfamiliar words, with 80% accuracy in four out of five opportunities.

What This Means: This sample IEP goal aims for a child to use strategies to figure out the meaning of unknown words or phrases. The student might use a dictionary or look at other words in the sentence (“context clues”). Four times out of five, the child must correctly determine the meaning of at least 80 percent of the words or phrases. 

Learn more about setting annual IEP goals, plus other ways you can play a role in the IEP process. Then, find out what actions you can take if the IEP doesn’t seem to be working.

Key takeaways

  • Your child’s IEP should have goals for each area of weakness in reading skills.

  • Each goal should be tied to a specific state academic standard for reading.

  • Goals should also be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, and time-bound).

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    About the author

    About the author

    The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Jenn Osen-Foss, MAT is an instructional coach, supporting teachers in using differentiated instruction, interventions, and co-planning.