MY GUIDE Agencies > Individualized Education Program (IEP) Annual Goals

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Annual goals defined

Once your child’s needs are identified, you and your ARD/IEP team will work to develop appropriate annual goals to meet those needs. An annual goal describes what your child can be expected to do or learn within a 12-month period. You and your team may also identify some short-term objectives to include in this section of the IEP.

Writing the goals can be one of the hardest parts of developing an IEP, because goals can cover so many different areas. Some goals may relate to the general education curriculum. Other goals may focus on learning developmental or functional skills, such as eating independently, sitting with classmates, or reading Braille. A third kind of goal may involve your child’s social or emotional needs. 

Writing goals

The annual goals should be based on your child’s Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP or “present levels”). The PLAAFP statement identifies what your child needs. The goals should be written to address those needs.

A well-written goal should be positive, and describe a skill that can be seen and measured. In Texas, there are four required components of an annual goal: Timeframe (when); Behavior (what); Condition (in what manner); and Criterion (at what level).  Answering these questions provides those components:

  • Who will achieve the goal?
  • What skill or behavior will be achieved? (behavior)
  • How or in what manner and at what level will the skill or behavior be achieved? (condition, criterion)
  • Where or in what setting and under what conditions will the goal be achieved?
  • When or by what time or date will the goal be achieved? (timeframe)

Tracking your child’s progress

Effective goals are critical parts of your child’s IEP. Keeping track of your child’s progress is just as important. Guidelines for how you and the school will know if your child is making enough progress to reach her goals must also be included in her IEP. These guidelines explain how your child’s progress will be measured, and when and how often you will get progress reports.

Sometimes goals will include specifics for how well your child must perform in order to achieve the goal. These measures are called evaluation criteria.

In addition to describing how your child’s progress will be measured, the IEP must also describe when you will get periodic reports on that progress. For some special education programs, progress reports are issued when report cards are sent. But your reports may come on a different schedule, depending on the policies or practices in your school district.

More information

Also be sure to read these related articles on this site:

Technical Assistance: Individualized Education Program (IEP) Development

Question and Answer Document Individualized Education Program (IEP) Measurable Annual Goals

Parts of this article were adapted from the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY), Parent Guide 12 by Theresa Rebhorn.