IEP Fundamentals

When you are delivering on-site or online speech therapy or any remote therapy for that matter, it is essential to set appropriate goals for your student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) on an annual basis.

Setting well-thought-out IEP goals promotes the likelihood for any child with a disability to be successful and become more integrated into the mainstream. Equally important is to track the child’s progress accurately, to assure that the child is succeeding.

This may appear to be a daunting task; knowing the student’s baseline, understanding how the student learns and processes new information, monitoring the goals over time, and then determining if the child has mastered the goal.

A team, including parents, the principal, therapists, teachers, and even the school nurse is required to establish these goals. Every student’s IEP is unique and will serve as the roadmap for that child’s therapeutic journey, to achieve the most success possible in the school setting.

And the IEP will change from year to year. Setting new IEP goals is vital to a child’s growth and success. Special Education students are mandated under their IEP to have goals specific to their disability needs, abilities, and behaviors. Your student’s road to success will be directed by daily instruction based on your IEP goals.

Parents Are a Crucial Ally

Before drafting initial IEP goals for each student, you must include a case history review or interview with the student’s parents. Parents play a vital role in both their child’s education and therapy, and integrating the parent’s concerns will be instrumental in setting realistic goals for the child’s growth.

While parents or guardians, by law, must be equal partners in their child’s IEP, including them is far more than a legal technicality. Aside from providing critical insight, they can be the source of valuable information along the way, as their child works toward fulfilling IEP goals. Involved parents can help you better understand the student’s strengths, challenges, and overall learning style.d

Being SMART is Your Key to Success

SMART is short for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-Oriented and Time-Bound


You must establish goals that are very specific to a subject or skill. Without being specific or providing enough detail a goal could easily fail or be meaningless.


Every goal must be measurable in some tangible way; this can be accomplished with a data chart, curriculum based probes, and/or tests to accurately measure progress.


Making the goal attainable is essential, since it can potentially increase the independence of the student. Alternatively, if the goal is beyond the child’s reach, the child could easily become discouraged in pursuing it.


Seeing results motivates the child to remain engaged and enthusiastic.  It helps to begin small and build as the child progresses. The expectation of particular results can hold the IEP team accountable.


Goals are set to be accomplished within a clear-cut time frame. This could be a week, a month, three months, or a year. Structuring the goal within a time frame gives the child and team some coordinates within which to achieve.

A Quick IEP Review: Your 12 Point Checklist

  1. Directly related to the student’s ability to participate in his/her school program
  2. A team process between disciplines to address the whole student
  3. To be monitored and assessed consistently (measurable) at defined intervals
  4. Designed to focus on expected growth within a one-year time interval
  5. Considering the best overall interests of the student (consensus of parents/guardians and professionals)
  6. Focused on what the student will do, not the therapist or staff
  7. Tailored to this particular student; one size fits none
  8. Formulated from a baseline level that includes the current level of performance
  9. Maximizing the growth of the child, while minimizing the number of goals
  10. Written using language that everyone understands, including parents/guardians
  11. Incorporating verbs that are measurable (can be seen, heard, or counted)
  12. Welcoming parent/guardian input, considering them equal participants

Make it Much Easier with Just a Few Quick Clicks

Aside from setting appropriate goals for your student’s IEP, it is very important to utilize helpful resources in the process. Since you are responsible to adhere to state standards that may be subject to change, it behooves you to be aware of the current standards that you are required to implement into the IEP Plan.

It is helpful to create a resource binder for yourself, which could be either digital or hard copy, and fill it with articles, a goal bank to build from, lesson plans, state standards, and whatever else may be useful.

The references, tools, and resources listed below have proven to be invaluable to many, and are easily accessible to you with just a quick click.