Aligning IEP Goals to Grade Level Standards


As a special education teacher, it can be difficult to write an IEP that is aligned to a grade level standard when, typically, the student the goal is for is behind their grade level academically. But if your students aren't on alternate standards, that's the task teachers face. And I remember as a first year teacher how overwhelming it was trying to make sure the IEP goals were aligned to those grade level standards. But I learned a method that made it much simpler, and I'm here to share it with you today!

Think about everything you do during the day. Brush your teeth, cook dinner, drive your car... All of those are tasks, and we are going to think about those as our "grade level standards." But lets really look at each of those tasks. "Brushing your teeth" isn't just "brushing your teeth." It's getting out your toothbrush and toothpaste, putting an appropriate amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush, brushing the fronts/backs/sides of all your teeth, rinsing your toothbrush, etc. Those small components of the overall task? They all must be mastered. And it's in those small parts that we are going to find our students' IEP goals.

No, I'm not telling you to write a goal about teeth brushing (unless you need to). What I'm saying is for you to look at the grade level standard as an overall task. What are the smaller components it's made of? A perfect example is long division. Being able to complete a long division problem is typically a third or fourth grade math standard. By the end of that school year, students are expected to be able to solve a long division problem. But let's say we have a student who is several grade levels behind academically. How can we possibly align their IEP goal to the grade level standard? By breaking it down.

Let's take long division as an example. Just like we did with brushing teeth, we want to look at all the components that go into being able to perform long division. 

Long division isn't so simple, huh? There are several pieces a student needs to be able to do before they can complete a long division problem. And it's from those pieces that we will create our IEP goal that aligns to the grade level standard.

Instead of saying, "By May 2023, when given a list of five long division problems, Student will be able to solve long division problems with 80% accuracy in 4 out of 5 trials," we want to break that standard down.  "Student will be able to explain the relationship between division and multiplication" or Student will be able to multiply fluently single digit numbers" or even "Student will be able to subtract two digit numbers." Do you see how each of those goals builds toward that goal of solving long division?

Once I figured out how to align IEP goals to grade level standards by breaking down the standard into its various components, creating IEP goals became much simpler. If you think this could also help you, leave a comment below! And always feel free to reach out with any questions you have. 

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