How do I ensure IEP goals are measurable?
It is important to establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. To determine if your goal is measurable, ask yourself questions such as “how much” or “how many”. Second, ask yourself, “How will I know when it is accomplished?” It is important to remember that the more specific your goal is, the easier it is to measure. You should also be thinking about the end product. “What am I looking for in the end?” “What should this look like when it is achieved?” A goal that merely states “Kelly will demonstrate age-appropriate vocabulary” would be very difficult to track and record data for. How can we make that goal more specific? “Kelly will demonstrate understanding of science vocabulary related to classroom learning with 80% accuracy in each unit for the 2014-15 school year.” That is definitely more specific (however other components still must be included to be complete).
In addition, for an annual goal to be measurable it should be written in language that parents and teachers can understand. Remember it has to be a behavior that you can see and count. That is an easy way to explain it to parents and teachers. Can we see it? How can we count it? Avoid terms such as “will improve”, “will increase”, and “will decrease”. Those are not specific enough. Avoid getting stuck in a measuring trap that is unrealistic for you or the teachers. It is not unusual for clinicians to set up situations that were too difficult to track with a system they devised. It looked good on paper, but in reality, it was not practical for day-to-day use. As SLPs, we tend to get stuck in the percentages trap. There are other ways to measure besides using percentages that may be more appropriate to the situation. The New York State Guidelines have developed an excellent questioning strategy and set of examples to help establish measurements.
Dr. Lara Wakefield, CCC-SLP, has 18 years of experience as a Speech-Language Pathologist. She has researched the roles of the Speech-Language Pathologists and teachers in collaborative settings related to language and literacy for 14 years in several grant -funded projects. She has been a special education advocate for families of children with special needs for the past 5 years, focusing on improving the IEP process for parents.