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IEP Writing Strategies: A

Linear Approach
Allan S. Blume
Special Educator
Associate Professor (retired)
Educational Consultant
Allan S. Blume

Goals: Where do they

come from?

Allan S. Blume

2. Measurable Annual Goals and Shortterm objectives or benchmarks

34 CFR 300.320
Result from the disability

Meet Other Educational Needs

Allan S. Blume

Consider this metaphor Allan Blumes

River of Curriculum
There are fish in the river as well
as trees along the banks of the

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The River of Curriculum









Oral Exp.
S &L

Behavior ABA
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Goals from the trees and
Accommodations or Modifications
from the bushes
NOT from the fish
The trees result from the
Most IEPs should include only 3
4 goals (Massachusetts DESE, IEP Process Guide,
page 18).

Allan S. Blume

To determine an area of goal focus:

First look back at the PLEP statement
Remember needs that result FROM
the disability

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1st: Determine the Goal

Ideally the easiest part of the process
Consider the: PLEP Statements, Concerns
Statement, or Vision Statement
Remember the FUNNEL metaphor
Academic and functional goals should
continue to be skill based, measurable and
reflect individual student needs based upon
the disability. (www.doe.mass.edu)

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Current Performance Level

Allan S. Blume

What skills (and challenges) does the

student have in the goal focus area?
Students performance
with the Goal Focus
Short narrative
Objective, quantifiable
points of reference
(frequency, number,
duration, etc.)
Allan S. Blume


Current Performance Level (CPL)

CPL should identify:
what the student can currently do,
or has difficulty with, in the goal
focus area,
provide quantifiable detail that
describes the students

Baseline for subsequent goals

and objective/benchmarks
Allan S. Blume


#1 - Goal Focus Social Skills

Having participated in a social skills group over the
past two months of approximately 5 peers, Allan has
been exposed to 10 different strategies for conflict
resolution. Of these 10 Allan can independently
name all 10 of them, and is able to use 2 without
prompting. After a single verbal cue Allan is able to
use the other 8 strategies. Typically the
antecedents to his conflicts with peers are (..).
Given that this social skills group is an artificial
setting there have few situations where he has been
observed using these. In the few observed situations
it has been identified that when in a conflict with a
peer Allan does not automatically use either of the 2
strategies that he can independently use in the
Allan S. Blume
structured social skills group.

#1 - Goal Focus - Writing

From observations and evaluations done across
10 separate occasions it has been determined that
on average, when writing, Allan usually writes
sentences of about 3 4 words in length. He has
greatest success spelling sight words and words
that are part of his experience (for example, he
likes playing video games and can spell many of
the directional words that often appear on the
video screen). The length of his writings are
generally about 4 -5 sentences. He often makes as
many as 4 - 5 errors with the spacing of words,
letter formation and spelling in a single writing
assignment. He has difficulty with punctuation
(periods, commas and question marks) either
omitting punctuation altogether or at times will
insert a comma when
heS. Blume
should use a13period, or

# 2 Goal Focus Reading


From observations and evaluations done

across X separate occasions it has been
determined that on average, Allan has greatest
success when shown a picture of something that
was in a story and is able to recall items
(characters, setting) from the story 30 minutes
after the reading. When asked to recall
something from the story without having been
provided a picture cue or later in the day, it is
more difficult for him to recall characters or
setting. After reading a grade level passage he
can state the up to 3 elements from the reading
(i.e. character, setting, events), but has difficulty
stating more than three. He has been working on
developing mnemonic devices to assist him in
recalling information, and with teacher assistance
he is working on the development and use of
these devices more spontaneously.
Allan S. Blume
14 continues
to have difficulty with stating the main idea of a

Lets look at this one:

Allan will use social skills such as increasing the use
conflict resolution strategies, decreasing reliance on
prompting, applying learned strategies to real
situations to demonstrate ability beyond the current
performance level via the following objectives, and as
documented from quarter to quarter.
Is it observable?
Is it measurable?
Does it identify what the student can reasonably accomplish
in a year?
This is one way of writing an observable and measurable
goal, it is not the ONLY way.
Allan S. Blume


IEP Goal: A Template

<Students name> will use
<goal focus> skills such as
<details from the current
performance level>
to demonstrate ability beyond the
performance level via the following
objectives, and as documented from
quarter to quarter.
(adapted from Guide to Writing Quality Individualized Education Programs:
What's Best for Students with
Disabilities?Gibb, Gordon
S., Dyches, Tina
Allan S. Blume


Action Words

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SMART Goals or SMART Objectives?

34 CFR 300.320 (a) (2)

(i) A statement of measurable annual goals, including
academic and functional goals designed to-(A) Meet the childs needs that result from the childs
disability to enable the child to be involved in and make
progress in the general education curriculum; and
(B) Meet each of the childs other educational needs that
result from the childs disability;
(ii) For children with disabilities who take alternate
assessments aligned to alternate achievement standards, a
description of benchmarks or short-term objectives;

Allan S. Blume


How to write an objective

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Write Benchmarks/Objectives

Benchmark/objectives can come from

the details in the current performance

Objectives must be observable and


To be observable it must be visible,

audible or tangible

If it cant be observed, it cant be


Objectives/benchmarks describe what

you intend the student to achieve.

Make it SMART

Allan S. Blume


The Five Parts of an

Condition - what an adult will do to
have the skill occur
Learners name - do not write in the
Skill/ performance or behavior what the learner is expected to do (the
verb in the sentence)
Criteria - how the skill will be
Mastery - when we know that the
learner has achieved or surpassed the
Allan S. Blume

Generally written in this order, yet


To make it easier:
Think about the skill (verb) first
Write a verb (skill) that you can expect a student
to demonstrate
The skill should already be in the CPL

Is the skill (verb) something that you can see,

hear, or touch?
Verbs to avoid in an objective:
Learn, know, understand, appreciate, value

Allan S. Blume


Determine a CONDITION
What would need to be provided or present to
make the SKILL happen?

When provided with grade level reading
When requested to
After receiving instruction with

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Criteria is a number (or something
that could be turned into a number)
that allows you to measure the

Accurately Correctly these could be

turned into 100%
At least x number
Will use fewer than x

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Be cautious about using the ubquitous 80%

Avoid percentages as the only way of measuring success.

Allan will cross the street with 80% accuracy.
Allan will use a treadmill with 95% accuracy.
Given a list of sight words, Allan will state them with
75% accuracy.
Allan will make eye contact with 85% accuracy.

Do we mean accuracy or do we mean number of occasions?

Criteria - measured in a variety of ways:

time, speed, duration
specific statements of measure
and yes, sometimes even percentages but NOT

Allan S. Blume


Mastery level
You need to know when the objective will
be met, and over what period data will be
gathered to know whether the student has
achieved the objective
It should be directly linked to the time
when the original baseline data was
gathered for the CPL
In x out of x measured occasions
Across x individuals in x settings
At least x times weekly (in a quarter)
Allan S. Blume


Goals and Objectives The Easiest

Goals and Objectives as a Writing Activity
The writing process:
Determine a Topic.
Brainstorm and put those thoughts into a
Verify the Main idea
Supporting details.
Apply this to writing Goals and Objectives
Main Idea
Details =

Goal Focus
= Current Performance Level
= Goal
Allan S. Blume


#1 - Objectives
Examples part 1



After a conflict situation (IDENTIFY THE POTENTIAL

SITUATIONS HERE), Allan will identify at least 3
learned strategies for conflict resolution he could
have used in x occasions across a two month period.
When in a real or mock situation of conflict (IDENTIFY
one of the 8 learned strategies in the absence of a
verbal cue in x sessions across two months.
When in a real conflict situation outside the
parameters of the social skills group, Allan will
independently use at least one of the learned
strategies to resolve the situation in x situations
across two months.

Allan S. Blume


Goal Focus, CPL, Goal and

Allan S. Blume


Determine the goal focus

1. The focus of goal areas for the IEP should
be directly influenced by the impact of the
disability statements from earlier in the
document what are the needs or
challenges that arise out of the disability
that are keeping the student from
accessing the curriculum or the community
of the school? these will likely become the
names of the goal focus areas merely look
to the PLEP statements
Allan S. Blume


Steps in Writing a CPL

1. Identify the period over which data was collected that
allowed you to determine the data in the CPL (# of sessions,
# of weeks, across a month, over the quarter)
2. Write every sentence in the CPL and be sure that it contains
data, most likely averages from across the period that the
data was collected

Data: frequency, duration, amount, number, accuracy, latency,


3. Begin each sentence from a strengths perspective Allan is

able to answer as many as five wh fact questions, yet has
difficulty answering up to 3 inferential questions in the
absence of at least 1 visual prompt from the teacher.
4. Write as many sentences as necessary to provide data and
detail regarding the skills/challenges that a student has
within a specific skill area.
5. Upon completion of the CPL review it to determine the main
idea that flows through the
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Determining goal and

1. Review the CPL to determine the
main idea that flows through it this
will form the focus of the
subsequent goal.
2. Review the CPL and determine the
number of details that exist within it
this will help to determine the
number and focus of the subsequent
Allan S. Blume


Goal Writing
An observable and measureable
statement that identifies the skills
that need to be increased, improved
or decreased from the baseline.
The goal can be SMART or can be an
observable measureable statement
with the subsequent objectives as
Allan S. Blume


Writing Objectives
1. Identify a skill/behavior or
performance from the CPL (This will be a
2. Identify a condition upon which it would
be necessary for the skill to occur
3. Use data from the CPL to determine the
criteria measure for the objective
4. Use the time that data was gathered as
the factor for determining the mastery
level for the various objectives
Allan S. Blume


Objective order
Write the objective in this order:
Condition, student name, skill, criteria,
EX: When in a small group (fewer than 5)
remain seated (SKILL), for at least 5 minutes
(CRITERIA), in 8 out of 10 occasions across a
one month period. (MASTERY)
Allan S. Blume