SMART Goals, What are They and How do I Ensure My Kid has Them?


SMART Goals, What are They and How do I Ensure My Kid has Them?

Unless you are brand new to the IEP arena, the term SMART goals are probably not new to you. However, a refresher on a SMART goal and how to help craft them with the IEP team is never a bad idea.

S- Specific
M- measurable
A- action words
R- realistic and relevant
T- time-limited

Before we can get to SMART goals, we need to address where to start. In order to determine what each child needs, we need to begin with present levels of achievement. Then, when looking through present levels of achievement, highlight areas of weakness that you believe goals should be created around to help your child grow.

Once these areas of weakness have been identified and targeted, ensure each goal is written once baseline data has been recorded. This baseline data is often overlooked but required to truly measure as students progress. Pro tip: when sitting at the IEP table, specifically ask for baseline data on each and every goal. Often you will find goals are not aggressive enough because the finish line is too close to the present level or are focusing on the wrong target because baseline data cannot be taken.

All SMART goals will have specific objectives. These objectives should target areas in academic achievement or function that need improvement. They will clearly describe what the child will be taught and how the progress will be measured.

A measurable SMART goal will have quantifiable objectives. To accurately measure a goal, means you need to be able to take data on the progress that can be compared to a baseline. Examples of this data might include but are not limited to the number of occurrences, test scores, completion, time duration, or speed.

Some examples of action words might be “the child will be able to” or “will complete.”

SMART IEP goals should be both realistic and relevant. To be a realistic goal, the team must believe that the child can complete the goal in the time allowed. Please note goals should be challenging. Do not make the mistake of failing to challenge your child in an attempt to create a realistic goal. Goals should also be relevant. Relevant is a subjective term and could be different things to different people. As a parent, relevant to me means keeping my eye on a five-year plan. If this goal will not impact my child five years from now, is this the best use of our time? However, the school team may feel that relevant goals relate to grade-level objectives. In my parent world, my child’s ability to name the scientist that discovered DNA is less relevant to his five-year plan than his ability to organize materials and complete his work.

SMART IEP goals should also be time-limited, meaning, in what length of time will it take for the child to complete the objective? Goals are generally written for one year; as an advocate and IEP coach, I like to use short-term objectives so that the team can keep their eye on the ball. Short-term objectives also make long goals easier to break up and work on smaller parts of the goal at a time. I find this particularly important when customizing or negotiating writing goals. I also like short-term objectives because we can break them out quarterly, making reporting progress on the progress report clear and non-subjective.

If you think your child's goals are in need of some help, please make an appointment to chat with me. I'll tell you what I think and offer some advice.

Talk to Lisa about my child's IEP goals

If you would like a SMART goal graphic and a template for writing goals please click the button below.