Create Meaningful IEP Goals this Spring

March 21, 2024

As we head into spring, many special education teams use this time of year to review annual goals. Likely, you’ve got new winter assessment data and half a year of instructional data to consider. How are students progressing? Let’s review our best practices for creating ambitious, measurable annual academic IEP goals. 

Identifying Present Levels

If you have current screener or benchmark data that’s the best place to start. View the students’ readiness score in each tested domain as well as their overall score in comparison to their peers. Compare the current readiness scores to those from the fall to analyze growth over time. This is easily viewed in Classworks by launching the student’s Screening detailed page, where you can toggle between each tested window. Notice significant areas of struggle and reflect on how each domain impacts the other. Review ready-to-learn statements to better understand the student’s current academic needs within each domain. Filter down to one specific domain to target within the goal. 

When analyzing middle of the year (MOY) assessment data, consider:

  • Where has the student made significant progress?
  • Where can the student make more progress?
  • What area of focus will make the largest impact for the student to receive their Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)?
  • Is the student ready for a new IEP goal, or an amendment to their existing goal? 

Pro Tip: If you are looking at a student's Present Level of Performance (PLOP) and there is a significant dip in scores, re-motivate and retest! Students have up to 5 times to take the test with Classworks. Check out “Motivate Students For Classroom Success,” to help students stay on track! It’s so important that this data is a true representation to meet their needs when writing IEP goals. 

Valid and Reliable Progress Monitoring Data

MOY assessment data is just one piece of the puzzle. The recent IDEA guidelines emphasize the importance of using a valid and reliable progress monitoring measure to track and document progress toward goals. NCII, DOE, and Promoting Progress provide guidance on what constitutes valid progress monitoring. 

Therefore, analyzing students’ progress monitoring data should be an ongoing part of our annual goals process. Calculated Rate of Improvement (ROI) lines indicate if a student is on target (meeting their goal) or below target (not meeting their goal). Classworks graphs ROI automatically after three probes are completed. If the graph shows students are on target after the 12-week session is completed, it’s a strong indication that a student is ready to move on in their IEP. If they aren’t on target, we recommend re-evaluating their current goal. In addition to analyzing the graph data, drill down to see how students are performing on the specific skill objectives covered in their progress monitoring.  

Writing Updated IEP Goals

Now that we have a strong understanding of where the student currently is with their academic progress, it is time to write an updated and relevant IEP goal. The present level of performance is the starting point for an ambitious yet measurable goal. If a standard is needed, this is the right time to make that alignment. Classworks has viewable state standards within the Screening tab.

Ambitious Annual Goals

Now that you’ve established the PLOP and domain of focus, what is the expected amount of growth over the next 12 months? This can be tricky, luckily the growth between screening windows is a strong indication of what the student can accomplish. Additionally, review any progress monitoring data, specifically rate of improvements, to better understand what to expect. The goal of all IEPs is to ensure students’ are receiving their FAPE and make progress toward their seated grade-level curriculum. Therefore, be sure to set the bar high, yet manageable. 

Keep it Going

Creating meaningful IEP goals is not a simple task, but scheduling consistent time to review assessment and progress monitoring data helps you stay on top of it. Analyzing and planning during the middle months of the year helps make this process more manageable and keeps the IEP goal most relevant to the student. Seek out professional development opportunities from your district to ensure you understand how to analyze progress monitoring data and access the reports and data you need to document progress.

Contact us at or chat with us on the right of your screen to get the conversation started. 

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