This article provides information to assist users with setting progress goals for students with IEPs.
Setting Academic Progress Goals for Students with IEPs
Students with disabilities who participate in special education services all have an individualized education program (IEP). IEPs provide details about the specially-designed instruction (SDI) and progress monitoring to track individual student goals. The IEP goals reflect the area(s) in which the student needs SDI, and each goal must have some type of progress measure. Students with IEPs typically require intensive intervention to address their learning needs. Intensive academic interventions provide a path for students to accelerate their learning in a specific area in order to reach a learning goal.
For a student to have an IEP goal in a specific academic learning area, the student must have current performance that is below grade-level expectations. One of the keys to determining an appropriate goal for a student is to identify the difference between the student’s current performance and the grade-level expectations. This difference is important to know because it will affect how much growth is possible during the time covered by the IEP. For example, here are CBMreading (oral reading fluency) scores for two fifth-grade students with IEPs in reading.
The winter benchmark is the goal for all fifth graders in the middle of the school year. Student A’s score of 78 is much farther away from the benchmark than Student B’s score of 124. And, keep in mind that both of these students are below the winter benchmark, yet the spring benchmark is higher: 162. The next step is to examine the rate of improvement (ROI) that each student would need to reach the spring benchmark. Here are the estimated weekly ROIs required for each student to reach a score of 162 in the spring.
|Student||Rate of Improvement|
Student A would need to improve by reading about 5.25 more words correctly per week, while Student B would need to add only 2.4 words correctly per week. Research about the maximum ROI possible in the area of reading fluency indicates that typical students will gain no more than 2 words per week in the early grades (e.g., 1-2) and that tapers to 1 or fewer words per week in the upper grades. Given this reality, the IEP team needs to identify a goal that is feasible for the student in the time allotted. The above example shows scores for half of a school year (i.e., 16 weeks), however, all IEPs are written for a 1-year time period that includes a full school year (i.e., 32 weeks).
The good news is that the FastBridge progress monitoring system will automatically calculate student goals in relation to various rates of improvement. See this article about setting up progress monitoring in FastBridge.
Setting Appropriate IEP Goals
In order to know what specific score goal would be appropriate for a student’s IEP, teachers can use the FastBridge progress monitoring setup tools. Ideally, this would be done before the annual IEP review meeting using the most recent universal screening scores and any progress data to inform what progress measures and levels are best for the student. Then the team can discuss the goal suggestion and how it was derived at the meeting.
Here is an example for Student A above. In this scenario, the case manager created a possible goal based on monitoring the student using fifth-grade CBMreading passages weekly from 1/8/2023 through 1/8/2024, excluding the summer.
By entering the Start Score of 78 and leaving the Weekly Gain (i.e., ROI) amount at the realistic ROI of 1.4, the resulting annual goal for the student is 140 words per minute. If the team decides that an ROI of 1.4 is appropriate, then the goal to enter the IEP would be 140. But if the team decided to create a more ambitious goal, the ROI value can be changed. Here is an example if the Weekly Gain is changed to 2 words per week.
If this goal were adopted, then the student would be expected to gain 2 words per week over the course of the IEP. Remember that the goal would be reached in January of the following school year when the student would be in the middle of sixth grade. In that scenario, the student would have reached the winter fifth-grade goal as well as the winter sixth-grade goal of 159.
Teachers can also see typical ROI values for each grade in the FastBridge Norms tables for each assessment, which can be accessed by following the steps outlined in this article. Here is the table for CBMreading grade 5.
FastBridge recommends using the Aggregate Weekly Growth columns because this group data are across all students in the norms group.