All about IEP Goal Writing – your questions answered!

Where Do I Begin with IEP Goal Writing?

Maybe you're writing your very first I.E.P. or maybe it's your 100th. Either way, you may be looking for some expert tips to help write I.E.P. goals.

Help is here!

So where should you begin? After many, many years of training and writing IEPs, I can confidently provide you with a simple answer: start with the Present Levels of Performance (this goes by so many names, by the way).

All goals should be directly aligned with the Present Levels. This is GREAT NEWS because that means you're not pulling goals out of thin air (NOT that you were actually doing that!).

“Gee, thanks, but what are Present Levels?!?”

Click here to read more about this VERY IMPORTANT part of the I.E.P.

Should I use an IEP Goal Bank?

Moving forward, we have a plan in mind!

We've reviewed the Present Levels, evaluation results, and input from the team (families, related service providers, teachers). We're feeling confident that we know our student's areas of strengths and concerns and feel ready to write the I.E.P. goals and objectives.

Can I reference an I.E.P. Goal Bank to write these goals?

My answer is yes… and no.

I can explain – an I.E.P. goal bank can be a really useful reference tool, however I DON'T recommend using one when constructing goals.

Why not?

An I.E.P. is an Individualized Education Program and ALL aspects should be individualized for THAT student.

If you're referring to the goal bank from the beginning, potentially we could be adjusting the current situation to fit the goal versus customizing the goal to fit the student.

I.E.P. Goal Banks can still be a very handy tool AFTER you've written out measurable and individualized goals and objectives. It can help us speed up the process, fine tune our language, and serve as a checklist to make sure we included everything.

The BEST I.E.P. Goal Bank?

If you've been following Positively Learning over the years, I bet you know exactly what's coming next:


I know you can relate – you've probably spent HOURS writing I.E.P. goals and you know what? You did a GREAT job!

It's extremely helpful to start creating a bank of goals YOU'VE written and keep it handy (I recommend a Google Doc) to add to after every completed I.E.P.

This isn't a goal bank that you'll directly cut and paste from, but it will serve as a trusted reference source.

Goal Writing Extra Tips

I hope you're feeling better and more confident in your abilities to tackle I.E.P. goal writing!

Here are a few extra tips:

  • Use SMART Goals – measurable and observable
  • Goals should be aligned with skills (not curriculum)
  • Use your colleagues – they will be the best “bank” you'll ever have! Check out the Special Educators Resource Room Facebook community – closed for confidentially and a fantastic (free) resource for busy special educators! You DON'T have to do it alone.

The Special Educators Resource Room Bundle has an I.E.P. Goal Writing Guide ready to help you – there's tips and guidelines, a planning page, and exemplars:

What questions do you have about writing I.E.P. goals and objectives?

Hi there.

I'm Jennifer!

I’m Jennifer and I was a special educator in the elementary school setting over the past decade. I entered the classroom every day dedicated to making learning inclusive AND engaging.

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