IEP Goals for Progress Monitoring

Being Sure that IEP Goals Are Measurable

Measurable goals support success. Getty/Kidstock

IEP Goals are the cornerstone of the IEP, and the IEP is the foundation of a child's special education program. The 2008 reauthorization of the IDEA has a strong emphasis on data collection-the part of IEP reporting also known as Progress Monitoring. Since IEP goals no longer need to be split into measurable objectives, the goal itself should:

  • Clearly describe the condition under which the data is collected
  • Describe what behavior you want the child to learn/increase/master.
  • Be measurable
  • Define what level of performance is expected of the child for success.
  • Delineate the frequency of data collection

Regular data collection will be part of your weekly routine. Writing goals that clearly define what it is that the child will learn/do and how you will measure it will be essential.

Describe the Condition Under Which the Data Is Collected

Where do you want the behavior/skill to be exhibited? In most cases that will be in the classroom. It can also be face to face with staff. Some skills need to be measured in more naturalistic settings, such as "when in the community," or "when at the grocery store" especially if the purpose is for the skill to be generalized to the community, and community-based instruction is part of the program.

Describe What Behavior You Want the Child to Learn

The kinds of goals you write for a child will depend on the level and kind of the child's disability.

Children with serious behavior problems, children on the Autistic Spectrum, or children with severe cognitive difficulty will need goals to address some of the social or life skills that should appear as needs on the child's evaluation report ER.

Be Measurable. Be sure you define the behavior or academic skill in a way that is measurable.

Example of a poorly written definition: "John will improve his reading skills."

Example of a well-written definition: "When reading a 100 word passage at Fountas Pinnel Level H, John will increase his reading accuracy to 90%."

Define What Level of Performance is Expected of the ChildĀ 

If your goal is measurable, defining the level of performance should be easy and go hand in hand. If you are measuring reading accuracy, your level of performance will be the percentage of words read correctly. If you are measuring a replacement behavior, you need to define the frequency of the replacement behavior for success.

Example: When transitioning between the classroom and lunch or specials, Mark will stand quietly in line 80% of weekly transitions, 3 of 4 consecutive weekly trials.

Delineate the Frequency of Data Collection

It is important to collect data for each goal on a regular, minimally weekly basis. Be sure that you don't over-commit. That's why I don't write "3 of 4 weekly trials." I write "3 of 4 consecutive trials" because some weeks you may not be able to collect data - if the flu goes through the class, or you have a field trip that takes a lot of time in preparation, away from instructional time.


  • Math Skill

    When given a worksheet with 10 addition problems with sums from 5 to 20, Jonathan will correctly answer 80 percent or 8 of 10 in three out of four consecutive trials (probes.)
  • Literacy Skill

    When given a 100 plus word passage at reading level H (Fountas and Pinnell) Luanne will read with 92% accuracy in 3 of 4 consecutive trials.
  • Life Skills

    When given a mop, a bucket, and a ten step task analysis, Robert will mop the hall floor independently (see Prompting) 3 out of 4 consecutive trials.