How to Link IEP Goals to State and Other Standards
by Jana Bennett
Throughout the past year, new requirements from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSERS) have been placed on your school's Individualized Education Programs (IEP). IEP goals must align with grade-level content standards for all children with disabilities - helping make certain that students with learning differences are prepared for college and career.1
This means your IEP team must ensure that:
- Programs and goals are relevant for the grade in which a student is enrolled.
- Instruction and support services are tailored so the student can learn the material and progress toward individual goals.1
Addressing Concerns with IEP Goals and Grade-Level Standards
Is it even possible to write IEP goals that align to grade-level standards? How can grade-level-aligned IEP goals be revised if a lack of expected progress is detected?2
If the OSERS policy guidance has felt like a significant undertaking for you and your IEP teams, you’re not alone.
In his webinar titled The Relevance Equation: Current Grade Level + OSEP = IEP Goals, Dr. Mark Shinn, Professor of School Psychology at National Louis University and noted assessment and RTI expert, acknowledges his own concerns with the guidance. The legal requirements for progress monitoring IEP goals establish that if there is any lack of expected progress toward the annual goals, a student’s IEP goals must be revised. However, Dr. Shinn argues:
- Without clear goals, progress monitoring efforts will be ineffective.
- Without effective progress monitoring assessments, revisions cannot be made to IEPs when necessary. If a student is not benefiting from his or her IEP, it makes no sense to maintain that student within that IEP. 2 While the guidance is establishing better, higher expectations for children with disabilities, Dr. Shinn worries that without a solution to an already problematic scenario – IEPs with poor quality goals that don't lead to meaningful progress monitoring – the compliance angle will lead schools to swapping one insufficient system with another.2 Confident that this does not have to be the case, Dr. Shinn primarily sees the guidance as an opportunity to improve IEP goals and promote student progress through effective, impactful progress monitoring assessments. So, how can your IEP team move in the right direction with a solution that meets guidance compliance and unites IEP goals and grade-level standards?
Research-Based Technology That Helps Educators Connect IEP Goals and Grade-Level Standards
In his webinar, Dr. Shinn makes note of a thought-provoking phrase: The goals we write for our students drive the intensity of intervention. If we expect a student to improve further, educators must deliver more in terms of intervention.2 For Dr. Shinn, it’s about making the job of IEP teams simpler, yet more powerful, enabling improved student outcomes. Using a scientifically sound progress monitoring assessment tool that encompasses CAP (Criteria for Acceptable Performance) and standards-aligned, curriculum-based measures, IEPs can remain procedurally and substantively compliant. Furthermore, creating dynamic grade-level-aligned IEP goals and facilitating frequent progress monitoring practices becomes attainable.2 How are your Individual Education Programs aligning goals to grade-level academics?
Watch Dr. Shinn’s entire Standards-Aligned IEP webinar to hear the full discussion on how aimswebTMPlus can link IEP goals to state and other standards in response to the OSERS guidance.
1 Diament, Michelle. Disability Scoop. “Feds: IEPs Should Align With Grade-Level Standards.” Accessed March 10, 2017. https://www.disabilityscoop.com/2015/11/17/feds-ieps-grade-level/20972/.
2 Shinn, Dr. Mark. Pearson. “Standards-Aligned IEP Goals: Solutions to a Problematic Practice Scenario” Webinar. Accessed March 10, 2017. http://www.aimswebplus.com/news-and-events/the-relevance-equation-current-grade-level-osep-iep-goals.