CESA 7  Special Education letterhead


March 10, 1999

TO: Sp. Ed. Teachers
FR: Nissan B. Bar-Lev, Director of Special Education
RE: Writing IEP Annual goals

Many of you have done a great job in writing your IEPs to reflect the legal requirements of "annual goals", "short term objectives" and other IEP elements. Unfortunately, an increasing number of IEPs reaching my office appear to lack the appropriate language required by federal IDEA 1997 and Wisconsin Statutes 115.

Specifically, I am concerned about 3 elements:

  1. Present Level Of Educational Performance (PLOP).    In some instances, the statement is general, using the student's disability as the explanation. There are no specific indicators of the "base rate" - the current level of performance in objective terms for every annual goal in the IEP.  
    • As a reminder, I am restating the information that I shared with you on 1/6/99 (Q & A memo on IEP) regarding PLOP:

      1. The statement should accurately describe the effect of the child's disability on the child's performance in any area of education and progress in the general curriculum, including (1) academic areas (reading, math, communication, etc.), and (2) non-academic areas (daily life activities, mobility, etc.).

        Note: Labels such as "Cognitive Disability" or "Autism" may not be used as a substitute for the description of present levels of educational performance.

      2. The statement should be written in objective measurable terms, to the extent possible. Data from the child's evaluation would be a good source of such information. Test scores that are pertinent to the child's diagnosis might be included, if appropriate. However, the scores should be (1) self-explanatory (i.e., they can be interpreted by all participants without the use of test manuals or other aids), or (2) an explanation should be included. Whatever test results are used should reflect the impact of the disability on the child's performance. Thus, raw scores would not usually be sufficient.
      3. There should be a direct relationship between the present levels of educational performance and the other components of the IEP. Thus, if the statement describes a problem with the child's reading level and points to a deficiency in a specific reading skill, this problem should be addressed under both (1) goals and objectives, and (2) specific special education and related services to be provided to the child.

        Example of Present Level of Performance:

        Jenny is unable to comprehend her assignments. She needs material read aloud or use of audiotapes of curriculum in order to grasp concepts. Jenny 's written language is below grade level. She is not completing her work in a legible manner. She is failing 80% of weekly spelling tests.  Scores from the Woodcock-Johnson given on 11/15/98: Math application 8.2 grade level, Word identification 3.0 grade level, Written language 1.8 grade level, Math operations 7.9 grade level, Reading comprehension 2.1 grade level.
  2. Annual Goals.   In some cases, the annual goal does not include a "level of attainment". Instead, it states that the student "will improve his or her reading scores", "show growth in the cognitive area", "will demonstrate improved understanding" etc.

    As we have discussed many times at our staff meetings, annual goals have three parts: (a) direction of behavior (increase, decrease, maintain, etc.) (b) area of needs (reading, social skills, transition, communication, etc.) (c) level of attainment (to age level, without assistance, etc.) It must be stated in measurable terms.  

    This is the information that I shared with you on 1/6/99 (Q & A memo on IEP) regarding annual goals:

    • The annual goals in the IEP are statements that describe what a child with a disability can reasonably be expected to accomplish within a twelve-month period in the child's special education program. As indicated under Question 1, above, there should be a direct relationship between the annual goals and the present levels of educational performance. Annual goals have three parts: (a) direction of behavior (increase, decrease, maintain, etc.) (b) area of need (reading, social skills, transition, communication, etc.) (c) level of attainment (to age level, without assistance, etc.) The annual goal must now be stated in measurable terms.

      Examples of annual goals:

      Jenny will increase her reading comprehension score from 2.1 to 3.0 as measured by the teacher on 1/6/2000 (at the end of 12 months).

      Jenny will increase her written language score from 1.8 to 2.6 as measured by the teacher on 1/6/2000 (at the end of 12 months).

      Additional Examples:

      Appropriate Goal  Questionable Goal
      Joe will have no more than 5 unexcused absences/tardiness this year.   Joe will have a better attitude toward school 80% of the time.
      Sara will participate regularly in a supervised extra-curricular activity that meets weekly.      Sara will make wise choices in her use of Leisure time.
      Jim will maintain a C+ average in his regular classses. Jim will be 75% successful in the mainstream.
      Beth will pass upper body strength items on the fitness test. Beth will show an appropriate level of upper body strength.
  3. Short Term Objectives    This is the information that I shared with you on 1/6/99 (Q & A memo on IEP) regarding short term objectives:

    Short-term instructional objectives (also called IEP objectives) are measurable, intermediate steps between the present levels of educational performance of a child with a disability and the annual goals that are established for the child. The objectives are developed based on a logical breakdown of the major components of the annual goals, and can serve as milestones for measuring progress toward meeting the goals.

    In some respects, IEP objectives are similar to objectives used in daily classroom instructional plans. For example, both kinds of objectives are used (1) to describe what a given child is expected to accomplish in a particular area within some specified time period, and (2) to determine the extent that the child is progressing toward those accomplishments.

    In other respects, objectives in IEPs are different from those used in instructional plans, primarily in the amount of detail they provide. IEP objectives provide general benchmarks for determining progress toward meeting the annual goals. These objectives should be projected to be accomplished over an extended period of time (e.g., an entire school quarter or semester). - On the other hand, the objectives in classroom instructional plans deal with more specific outcomes that are to be accomplished on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Classroom instructional plans generally include details not required in an IEP, such as the specific methods, activities, and materials (e.g., use of flash cards) that will be used in accomplishing the objectives. A benchmark stems from the regular education curriculum. It is a designated milestone, showing the level of progress towards the annual goal. (Example: completion of book 2 in a series of books).  

    Example of short term objectives:

    Jenny will read her weekly assigned classroom selection in social studies or science and correctly answer 8 out of 10 end of chapter questions.

    Jenny will read independently for 15 minutes per day and answer correctly  a "where", "what" and "why" question orally.

    Jenny will write a paragraph composed of at least 3 sentences in her journal using proper grammar and correct spelling.

    Jenny will write a complete sentence within a minute of viewing a picture or being given an idea.

Cc            Special Education Coordinators
                School District Administrators         

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