IEP 101: Going Beyond SMART: IEP Goal Planner Templates

Too often, SMART goals — or goals that are “specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound” — don’t incorporate the skills, abilities, and needs of students with disabilities, which is why parents are such vital members of our children’s IEP teams. By taking an active role in the development of our kids’ goals, we can advocate more effectively to help them progress through appropriately challenging assignments.

As part of our IEP Exploration series, Dr. Caitlin Solone (education advocate, teacher educator, and faculty at UCLA) ties everything together, from vision statements to SMART goals, and takes us even deeper into how to master IEP goal writing.

Planner templates

Dr. Solone provided us with academic and non-academic goal planners that you can find here (and here is an example of how to use them).

These templates separate each of these aspects of goal writing into different sections so that you can hone in and individualize each part of a goal. This includes:

  • Vision statement (see more on vision statements here)
  • Goal area (meaning the school subject you’re addressing: reading, math, writing, etc.)
  • Common Core State Standard that aligns with this goal (you can just copy and paste the exact wording)
  • Baseline: this is where you’ll say what your child can currently do related to this target skill, which will help you determine where they'll be able to go a year from now. For example:
    • If this is the CCSS: Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.
    • Then this might be the baseline: Identifies the topic of a text in 1 out of 5 opportunities, when given an array of 4 options with text and pictures.
  • Strengths and abilities: here is where you’ll share your child’s skills or abilities that can help determine the types of supports they’ll need.
  • Target skill: this is where you’ll explain what you want your child to be able to do in one year.
  • Supports: in this section, you’ll list the tools and accommodations that will allow your child to achieve the target skill in one year.

If your child is working at a lower grade level — for example, your second grader’s reading level is closer to kindergarten — you can (and should) still use CCSS as the basis for writing your goals!

  • Dr. Solone explains that you can use each standard as “little benchmarks” and ways to tailor your child’s goal to address the standard, using an appropriately personalized version of that standard.
  • Essentially, you’re determining what skills are needed to allow your child to eventually reach that goal on their own timeline.

For more on taking your child's IEP goals to the next level, see the takeaway from our exploration here.

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