Setting SMART IEP Goals

The goals on your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) lay the framework for their education, but what makes a good goal? IEP goals (and any goal for that matter) should be SMART. That is, they should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic/relevant, and timely.

Specific. Goals should clearly describe the skill the student is learning. Goals should never be vague. If you moved to another school district, the new teacher should be able to read the goals and know exactly what is being taught.

Measurable. Goals should be observable and measurable. Progress can be measured through standardized testing, curriculum-based measurement, work samples, and teacher data sheets.

Attainable. Goals represent a skill that is reachable for your child. Goals are based on Present Levels of Performance, not state curriculum standards.

Realistic and Relevant. Goals should be unique to your child. This includes academics, communication, social skills, functional skills, and vocational goals as appropriate.

Timely. Goals set out what a student can accomplish in one year of special education services or less. Progress monitoring should take place at regular intervals.  

How to Develop SMART IEP Goals

You can help create SMART goals with your child's IEP team by asking the following questions:

  • Do you understand what is being taught and how?
  • Is it clear what your child will be able to do when the goals are met?
  • Are the goals based on Present Levels of Performance?
  • Do the goals address all areas of needs for your child?
  • How will data be taken?
  • How often will data be analyzed for progress?

Examples of SMART IEP Goals


IEP Goal Banks:

Further Reading:

All content in this article is for informational purposes only. This includes links to products and/or websites mentioned. To clarify, TACA does not receive any compensation or commission for providing them.

Furthermore, the information on this page is not a substitute for legal advice. When it comes to matter of the law and policy, please consult an attorney or advocate on your child’s behalf.