Better Reading Goals for Your Child's IEP

Better reading goals for IEP

After you have fought long and hard for your child's IEP - you want to make sure that the goals your child's intervention team are working on actually make sense. It's easy to fall into the trap thinking that once your child's IEP is in place everything will be taken care of, but unfortunately, more often than not - it just isn't the case. In case you missed it - we talked about 3 Reasons Your Child Isn't Understanding What She Reads. This is an important concept because ideally the IEP would be set up in such a way that each of these core components necessary to comprehend would be addressed within the IEP.

Decoding and fluency

We always want to be really careful about how these goals are written - what makes a good goal, and what makes a not so good goal.

The two most common IEP goals we see and we hate are:

1. Student will increase from (some number) of sight words to (some higher number).

2. Student will increase CWPM from (some number) to (some higher number).

While I love the fact that both of these goals are measurable and you could actually demonstrate some (hopefully) linear growth they are both terrible goals.

Memorizing sight words may help a child through second grade, but ultimately it's a strategy that relies entirely on memory and our memory isn't strong enough to hold the millions of words in our language and so it's teaching a strategy that won't benefit your child long-term.

Increasing number of words per minute is a great goal for schools because it's easy to measure - but ultimately reading fluency is NOT just reading fast and by using that as a goal that is exactly what you are teaching. It doesn't support reading comprehension or higher level reading skills at all.

Both of these goals are after a short-term gain that often comes at the cost of longer-term strategy and those BAD HABITS are a nightmare to break.

A well-written goal to address decoding skills might look something like this:

  • Student will increase his/her ability decode multi-syllabic words from a list of grade-level reading requirements consisting of closed, vowel-consonant-e, open, r-controlled, vowel team, and stable final syllables from 65% accuracy to 90% accuracy as measured by _____________. 

A well-written goal to address fluency might look something like:

  • Student will increase overall reading fluency including prosody, intonation, rate, and accuracy from a (baseline score) to a (goal score) utilizing the Reading Fluency Rubric (which could include Correct Words Per Minute, and observational prosody and intonation record, and running record for accuracy).

Schools absolutely can and should come up with self-designed rubrics if they do not have a formal progress monitoring tool in place to measure the specific goals for your child.

Background Knowledge

Ideally, teachers are "pre-teaching vocabulary and concepts" but you might want to know what specifically this looks like in the classroom. If your child struggles to understand big-picture concepts because he or she is lacking the big-picture you may want to see about creating an accommodation around receiving the information ahead of time so that you can go over the concepts with your child. Apps like BrainPop are really good for supporting background knowledge as well. 

However, this isn't to say all the teaching needs to go on at home. Ideally, we want to be teaching students to become self-advocates and self-starting learners who recognize they don't have enough background knowledge to fully understand the passage. In this day of YouTube it's not the worst thing to jump on and view a quick video if that would help!

A goal to address lack of adequate background knowledge might look something like this: 

  • Student will appropriately select and apply various pre-reading strategies (e.g., identifying relevant background information, previewing, skimming for important information) as measured by ___________ (running records, IRI, anecdotal data, observation, performance assessment, etc.) across _________ number of attempts.

Comprehension Strategy

Okay, so we talked about the fact that students may struggle to comprehend because they have no clear strategy. Here is where those IEP goals are CRITICAL to making sure that your child's intervention time is really being maximized.

We have a list of several goals that could be considered based on specific comprehension strategies. A well written goal here might look something like this:

  • Student Name will utilize a variety of explicitly instructed comprehension strategies to answer a variety of questions related to the text with 90% accuracy on grade-level texts.

Specific objectives may include:

  • Student will recall main ideas and supporting details in a reading selection as measured by ___________ (running records, IRI, anecdotal data, observation, performance assessment, etc.) across _________ number of attempts.
  • Student will identify story elements such as character, setting, plot, main idea, and mood in stories read as measured by ___________ (running records, IRI, anecdotal data, observation, performance assessment, etc.) across _________ number of attempts.
  • Student will analyze the information and ideas presented in the text to make predictions and infer cause and effect as measured by ___________ (running records, IRI, anecdotal data, observation, performance assessment, etc.) across _________ number of attempts.

For a comprehensive list of a number of possible Reading Comprehension goals - check out our list here.

It's always helpful to have an advocate or outside professional to help determine and guide goals to make sure your child is receiving the best support possible and working toward the most appropriate goals for his or her needs. If you want a second opinion give us a call and we can help guide you on the next steps.