Consecutive is my Favorite IEP Word for Goals


I know, it seems silly that I would have a favorite word for an IEP goal. I often tease the teams I work saying, "You know I would like you to add my favorite word here…" But why is consecutive my favorite word?

I am a data freak and love to play with numbers. My master's degree is in behavioral analysis, analyzing data to see trends and changes in behavior. Well, as a data analyzer, how we read data is based on how it is presented.
A simple example of this can be seen here:

Her goal reads, "Sally will score 80% on five spelling opportunities over the quarter."

Sally had ten spelling tests over the quarter; here are the scores.
Week Score
1 90%
2 40%
3 50%
4 90%
5 90%
6 50%
7 80%
8 40%
9 100%
10 60%

If the goal is written that Sally will score 80% on five opportunities, then she did it! Yay! But is that the "spirit" of this goal? She is not consistent with her spelling scores.

I could also have averaged those 5 "opportunities" (weeks 1, 4, 5, 7, & 9) and conclude she scored 92% on average. But it is fair to say that is not a good representation of her actual performance level.

I include "consecutive" in goals so that we get a better idea of her consistent ability.

Please don't get me wrong; the goal above is poorly written. We can go into goal writing in another post. But let me go on to show you how the data can continue to be adjusted—the last five opportunities of the quarter average 64%. If we take the consecutive high five opportunities, the first five, it is 72%. (See, there is a downward trend).

If we are looking for 3 out of 5 opportunities, it is easily met in any of weeks 1, 4, 5, 7, & 9. But it is not met if we are looking for three consecutive out of 5 consecutive opportunities. There is no time in the quarter that Sally scored above 80% three times in a row. However, if we are looking for 3 out of 5 consecutive opportunities, 80% was achieved three times in weeks 1-5, weeks 4-8, and weeks 5-9.

So you see, "consecutive" in my book means "consistency." Remember when you propose wording to the team that you encourage challenging but realistic goals. Explain your reasoning for your specific language so that the data is reliable and everyone is on the same page when it comes to tracking progress.