Measurable Annual Goals, Benchmarks, and Examples
Measurable annual goals are descriptions of what a child can reasonably be expected to accomplish within a 12 month period with the provision of special education and related services.
When selecting areas of need to address through annual goals, the IEP team’s focus should be on selecting goals from the standards and benchmarks of the local district.
Measurable annual goals must be related to meeting the child’s needs that result from the child’s special needs, to enable the child to be involved and progress in the general curriculum. In addition, they must meet each of the child’s other educational needs that result from the child’s special needs. Annual goals are not required for areas of general curriculum in which the child’s special needs does not affect the ability to be involved and progress in the general curriculum. The annual goals included in each student’s IEP should be individually selected to meet the unique needs of the individual child. The goals should not be determined based on the category of the child’s special needs or on commonly exhibited traits of children in a category of special needs.
Four critical components of a well written goal are:
Time Frame – is usually specified in the number of weeks or certain date for completion.
Ex: In 36 instructional weeks. . . By November 19, 2010. . . By the end of the 1999-2000 school year. . .
Conditions – specify the manner in which progress toward the goal is measured. Conditions are dependent on the behavior being measured and involve the application of skills or knowledge.
Ex: when presented with 2nd grade level text. . . given a mixed 4th grade level math calculation probe. . . given a story prompt and 30 minutes to write. . . clearly identifies the performance that is being monitored,
Verb – usually reflects an action or can be directly observed, and is measurable.
Ex: Sarah will read. . . Claude will correctly solve. . . Mary will score. . .
Criterion – identifies how much, how often, or to what standards the behavior must occur in order to demonstrate that the goal has been reached. The goal criterion specifies the amount of growth the child is expected to make by the end of the annual goal period.
Ex: 96 words per minute with 5 or fewer errors… 85% or more correct for all problems presented…. 4 or better when graded according to the 6-trait writing rubric.
Well written measurable annual goals will pass the “Stranger Test”. This test involves evaluation of the goal to determine if it is written so that a teacher who does not know the student could use it to develop appropriate instructional plans and assess the student’s progress.
Each IEP must have at least one measurable annual goal. Each measurable goal must have benchmarks. The purpose is to enable a child’s teacher(s), parents, and others involved in developing and implementing the child’s IEP to gauge, at intermediate times during the year, how well the child is progressing toward achievement of the annual goal.
Benchmarks are major milestones that describe content to be learned or skills to be performed in sequential order. (Nov, Feb, May) They establish expected performance levels that coincide with progress reporting periods for the purpose of gauging whether a child’s progress is sufficient to achieve the annual goal.
In the context of IDEA and IEPs, measurable annual goals are the desired outcome. Benchmarks are listed in hierarchical order to gauge progress toward achievement of the annual goals.
Within the local curriculum, the IEP team should identify the skills and performance levels the child will master as he/she progresses toward the annual goal and select those for possible benchmarks in the IEP.
Example: Present Level of Educational Performance, Goal, and Benchmarks
PLEP: Jake’s written language is similar to that of typical children entering 1st grade in that it lacks punctuation, capitalization, and is characterized by sentence fragments and weak organizational skills. This impacts his ability to communicate through written language in his 3rd grade general education classroom and is affecting his performance in English and Social Studies.
Goal: In 36 instructional weeks, Jake will write a 5-sentance paragraph consisting of a topic sentence, 3 supporting detail sentences, and a concluding sentence, maintaining a single topic, with 85% mechanical accuracy on ending punctuation, commas, quotation marks, and capitalization.
Benchmark 1: In 9 instructional weeks, upon request, Jake will write a single complete sentence, beginning with a capital letter and ending with correct punctuation.
Benchmark 2: In 18 instructional weeks, upon request, Jake will write 3 complete sentences maintaining a single topic, beginning each with a capital letter, ending with correct punctuation, and using comma where appropriate.
Benchmark 3: In 27 instructional weeks, upon request, Jake will write a 4-sentence paragraph including a topic sentence and 3 supporting detail sentences, beginning each with a capital letter, ending with correct punctuation, using commas and quotation marks where appropriate.
More Examples of Annual Goals:
Illinois Learning Standard: 9.B. Identify, describe, classify and compare relationships using points, lines, planes and solids.
Goal: Student will be able to solve algebraix and trigonometric problems with 75% accuracy utilizing visual and graphic depiction strategies to aid understanding.
B1: Student will be able to simplify algebraic equations involving more than one variable and exponents with 75% accuracy.
B2: Student will be able to create a correct graphic illustration of the steps to find slope of a given line using a scientific/graphing calculator with 75% accuracy.
B3: Student will be able to properly use a graphing calculator to graph functions with 75% accuracy.
Illinois Learning Standard: 1.C. Comprehend a broad range of reading materials.
Goal: Using the strategy of “Think-Pair-Share” or other peer discussion-based strategies, Student will be able to summarize and make generalizations from classroom reading material in order to establish the author’s purpose(s) with 80% accuracy.
B1: Student will be able to identify (highlight, underline) the main point(s) of a given classroom reading assignment with 80% accuracy.
B2: Student will be able to work cooperatively with a given peer (selected by instructor) to produce a written summary of the main points and major topics within a given classroom reading assignment in 4 out of 5 trials.
B3: Student will be able to work cooperatively with a peer to orally present a detailed summary of the main points and/or purpose of a given classroom reading assignment with 80% accuracy on a presentation rubric.
Illinois Learning Standard: 11.A. Know and apply the concepts, principles and processes of scientific inquiry.
Goal: Student will be able to use appropriate scientific design theory strategies, like graphic organizers, Punnett Squares, inquiry-oriented learning, and cooperative learning to understand the fundamental concepts, principles, and interconnections of the life, physical and earth/space sciences with at least 70% accuracy.
B1: Student will be able to use appropriate scientific design theory strategies, like graphic organizers and/or Punnett Squares to explain how living things function, adapt and change through the analysis of how genetic combinations produce visible effects, variations among physical features, and cellular functions of organisms with at least 70% accuracy.
B2: Student will be able to use appropriate scientific design theory strategies, like inquiry-oriented learning to describe how living things interact with each other and with their environment by analyzing factors that influence the size and stability of populations within ecosystems, like birth rate, death rate, predation, and migration patterns with at least 70% accuracy.
B3: Student will be able to use appropriate scientific design theory strategies, like cooperative learning, to apply concepts that describe the features and processes of the Earth and its resources by explaining how external and internal energy sources drive Earth processes, like weather patterns and plate tectonics with at least 70% accuracy.
Measuring and Reporting Progress on Annual Goals: Once the IEP Team has developed measurable annual goals for a child, the team must develop either major milestones (benchmarks) that will enable parents, children, and educators to monitor progress during the year, and, if appropriate, to revise the IEP consistent with the child’s instructional needs. The strong emphasis is to enable each child to be involved and progress in the general curriculum.
Frequent monitoring of student progress is encouraged. Frequent monitoring is beneficial in several ways:
- It gives the teacher time to implement interventions and new strategies if student progress in inadequate toward reaching the benchmark or short-term objective,
- It maximizes the child’s time and opportunity to learn and ensures effective instructional practices,
- It prevents unpleasant surprises for parents when progress reports go home or at parent-teacher conferences, and
- It documents “good faith” on the part of the teacher implementing the IEP.
If data collection over time indicates inadequate student progress despite the implementation of interventions and strategies, the IEP Team may need to meet and reevaluate the appropriateness of one or more annual goals. The IEP must be revised as appropriate to address any lack of expected progress toward the annual goals or progress in the general curriculum.
When appropriate, a portion of the IEP may be revised. As with any change made on an IEP, there must be an IEP Team Meeting. The Notice for the IEP Team meeting would indicate what part of the IEP the team is reviewing. Upon completion of the review, the parents will receive a Prior Written Notice of Proposed Action. Parent consent for the revision may or may not be required depending on whether the change constitutes a substantial change in placement or material change in services.