Special Education and Due Process Procedures Manual

Developing IEP Goals


An annual goal is a statement(s) of what a student with a disability can reasonably be expected to accomplish in a year's time or the duration of the IEP.


Criteria for Developing Appropriate Goals

1.      Review the student's past achievement.


2.      Consider the student's present level of educational performance when estimating what can be expected in a year's time or the duration of the IEP.


3.      Identify the category of instruction for each deficit area. These may include the following:


A.     Social Skills

B.     Communication

C.     Leisure/Recreations Skills

D.     Vocational Skills

E.      Personal Management

F.      Academics

G.     Perceptual Skills

H.     Behavioral Skills

I.        Physical Skills


4.      Assess the practicality of the chosen goals in terms of final outcomes, age appropriateness, relevancy, etc.


5.      List the goals in order of their priority.




1.      Is the goal clear and understandable?

A.     not vague?

B.     avoids educational jargon?

C.     not too specific?


2.      Is the goal positively stated?


3.      Is there at least one goal for each area of need stated in the Present Level of Educational Performance (PLEP)?


4.      Can the goal be justified on the basis of the information in the PLEP?


5.      Is the goal practical and relevant to the student's academic, social, and vocational needs?


6.      Is the goal practical and relevant when the student's age and remaining years in school are considered?


7.      Does the goal reflect appropriate growth within the instructional area?


8.      Can the goal be accomplished within one year?


Revised 11/99

Special Education and Due Process Procedures Manual

The Stranger Test & The Dead Man's Test


The Stranger Test

The Stranger Test refers to goals and objectives for students that are described in a fashion that a person unfamiliar with the student could read the description and understand it. Because various persons involved in the implementation of a student's educational plan may interpret a construct such as "hostility" differently, it is necessary to describe student behavior in terms that would pass the Stranger Test. For example, if a student's goal was to decrease "hostility," a stranger might interpret it as hits, kicks, bites others while the student's team may have meant verbal threats or profanity directed toward peers. On the other hand, the stranger might interpret "hostility" as any instance of hitting, whether or not it was provoked, while the teacher might have meant only unprovoked hits. If the teacher had defined "hostility" for the stranger as "each instance of an unprovoked hit," where "unprovoked" means that it was not in retaliation for a physical or verbal attack from a peer, both the stranger and the teacher would be likely to obtain the same results, since they would both be looking for the same thing.


The Dead Man's Test

The question posed by the dead man's test is this: Can a dead man do it? If the answer is yes, it doesn't pass the dead man's test and it isn't a fair pair; if the answer is no, you have a fair pair. For example, suppose that you wanted a fair pair target behavior for "swears at peers." Let's say that you came up with the target behavior "does not swear at peers." Does this pass the dead man's test? No. A dead man could refrain from swearing at peers. What would be better? How about "speaks to peers without swearing"? This passes the dead man's test because a dead man does not have the power to speak.




Revised 9/99

Special Education and Due Process Procedures Manual

Annual Goals Help Sheet


Annual goals are expectations based on assessed special education needs. Annual goals are reasonably achievable within one calendar year.


Goals have five components. The five are:

1. direction of change;

2. deficit or excess;

3. present level of performance;

4. the expected annual ending level of performance; and

5. resources needed to accomplish the expected level of performance.


1. Direction of change can be stated as:

        increase (reading comprehension, math computation, written expression, speech fluency, etc.)

        decrease (math errors, temper tantrums, verbal aggression, etc.)

        maintain (motor control, a skill learned, etc.)


2. Deficit or excess could be stated as:


Areas of deficit behavior:

Areas of excess behavior:

reading comprehension

physical aggressiveness

math computation

head banging

gross motor control

touching, pushing or hitting other children

expressive language

blurting out

independent self care

getting up, falling out of the chair


activity level


3. Present level of performance (from _______) is a description of what the child now does in the area of deficit or excess and can be stated as:

        reading at the primer level

        naming numbers to 20

        walking with aid of crutches

        speaking in one word responses

        inability to grip small objects


4. Expected annual ending level of performance (to _________) and can be stated as:

        reading a first grade passage

        naming numbers to 100

        walking without aid of crutches

        speaking in complete simple sentences

        being able to grip 5 small objects


5. The resources needed to accomplish the expected level of performance can be stated as:

         speech therapy

         one-to-one instruction

         computer assisted instruction

         small group instruction

         consultation to regular education teacher

         parent training

         assistive device

The five components are reflected in the following examples of annual goals:


direction deficit/excess

Susan will increase/ reading readiness/


from present level to ending level

from pre-primer to primer level



using individual and small group instruction


direction deficit/excess

Susan will increase/ math computation skills/


from present level to ending level

from recognition of numbers one through 9/ to write/say correct answer to single digit

subtraction problems



using cooperative group instruction



direction deficit/excess

Susan will increase/ toileting independence/


From present level to ending level

from no toileting skills/ to ability to toilet independently



using the Arzin and Fox toileting training program


direction deficit/excess

Susan will decrease/ self stimulation behavior/


From present level to ending level

50% of school time spent in self-stimulation 25% of time spent in self-stimulation



of using positive reinforcement of interfering behaviors


direction behavior

Susan will increase/ rope jumping skills/


from present level to ending level

from inability to jump rope/ to completing a sequence of 10 rope jumps



using modeling and group play


direction behavior

Joe will decrease/ shouting out/


from present level to ending level

from 5 or more times a class period/ to 0 times a class period



using a point sheet with rewards and response cost

Revised 9/99

Special Education and Due Process Procedures Manual

Short-Term Instructional Objectives


Short-term instructional objectives, including attainment criteria for each objective, provide a basis for determining the student's progress. The outcome must be student-based, which means the learning is measured by observable behavioral changes of educational skills over a period of time.


Objectives are degrees of educational skills that must be learned in order to attain the goal. There are usually four components to an objective:


1.      performance of a specific behavior;

2.      conditions or circumstances under which the behavior is performed;

3.      criteria for attainment or level of performance;

4.      evaluation procedures.


The first component is the specific behavior (what the child is to do):

         unties and ties shoes

         says numbers to 20

         identifies vowel sounds

         orders letters of the alphabet

         washes dishes

         walks 20 feet

         charts own progress

         completes a job application

         accepts not doing perfectly


The second component is the condition or the circumstance surrounding the performance:

         given 50 addition facts

         without the aid of cane or crutches

         using a standard typewriter

         given 10 color cards

         given standard household cleaning tools


The third component is criteria for attainment or the standard for performance:

         at 90% accuracy

         0 times a day

         2 times a class period

         8/10 responses

         with no pauses or redundancies

         for at least 5 minutes


The fourth component is the evaluation procedure:

         as measured on end of unit tests/quizzes

         as charted by teacher

         as recorded by teacher

         as charted by pupil support assistant

         as measured by permanent products

         as measured by checklists

Four elements or components must be included in short-term instructional objectives. The following examples reflect these four components:




Given a list of ten words and a list of meanings selected from science units/


specific behavior

James will match the word to its meaning/



with 90% accuracy/


evaluation procedure

as measured on end of unit tests.





Given 5 word problems during each daily math class/


specific behavior

Susan will select one correct answer of four options/



with 80% accuracy/


evaluation procedure

as charted by the teacher.





Given a written language passage at the 4.0 grade level/


specific behavior

James will write the correct answer to 10 literal questions/



with 80% accuracy/


evaluation procedure

as recorded by the teacher.