IEP – A description of progress towards annual goals


As we continue looking into the components of an IEP we now have to ask ourselves: How we will know that my student is making progress towards the goals we wrote? This is a very important question since we want to make sure that our student is making progress and that they are mastering the skills we want them to master this year. Additionally there will be a statement of how often the parents will be notified about the progress the student is making in their goals.

I have heard from parents: “This is the “Xth” year my kid is working on the same goal” “Other parents have stated they don’t know how the teachers or therapist observes or evaluates their student on the goals they are working on to know how they are making progress.  Here is what the law states:

From IDEA we get the following:

(3) A description of—

(i) How the child’s progress toward meeting the annual goals described in paragraph (2) of this section will be measured; and

(ii) When periodic reports on the progress the child is making toward meeting the annual goals (such as through the use of quarterly or other periodic reports, concurrent with the issuance of report cards) will be provided…[§300.320(a)(3)]

Show me the data

Just like we gathered information about the abilities and challenges our student has, the teachers and staff will be collecting data and information on how the student is performing towards mastering the goals the team put together during the IEP.  So what must the data contain?  The report/data to the parents will show:

  • The student’s progress toward the annual goals;
  • And whether this progress is sufficient in order for the student to achieve or master the goals by the end of the school year.
  • data collection

 Why am I receiving this information?

Remember we have said that your student is a General Education student who receives Special Education services to enable him/her to access their curriculum. You should receive progress reports on your student with the same frequency as the parents of non-disabled students.  Furthermore, you will receive progress on how your student is doing towards achieving progress in his/her annual goals and to evaluate the effectiveness of the student’s special education services.

How will the information be presented?

Schools will have the ability to collect the data and present it in any number of ways.  Since each student is unique the way in which the teachers and/or therapists will present the data or results to the parents may also be different for each student and or the goals on the student’s IEP.

What are the questions should I ask?

Do you remember when the team designed the annual goals these were measurable annual goals? The reason was because there has to be an evaluative component or evaluation criteria in each goal which allows the teacher to measure how the student is doing.

The first question we need to ask is:  How will you measure the progress of my student?  

 In the goal you might find the criteria of measurement as one of the following?

  • frequency (e.g., 9 out of 10 trials)measureable-goal
  • duration (e.g., for 20 minutes)
  • distance (e.g., 20 feet)
  • accuracy (90% accuracy)

The period of time a skill or behavior must occur could be measured in terms such as:

  • number of days (e.g., over three consecutive days)
  • number of weeks (e.g., over a four-week period)
  • occasions (e.g., during Math and English classes, on six consecutive occasions)

Some of the goals might have sentences like:

  • Adriana will …(goal)…with 85% accuracy over 5 consecutive trials
  • Samantha will …(goal)…50 words/minute, with 3 or fewer errors, for 2 consecutive trials
  • Brenda will…(goal)… 3 out of 5 trials per week

The next question is: When will you measure the progress?

This will be the evaluation schedule and it will tell us the date and interval where the student will be evaluated to measure the student’s progress. In other words, when they will test his/her knowledge or ability to complete one of the tasks on the IEP and how he/she is doing towards achieving that goal. The teacher might present a chart or a table with the following information:

  • Each class period
  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Monthly
  • On January 5, March 15 and June 3

And the last question will be: How well will the child need to perform in order to achieve his or her stated IEP goals (and, for some children, benchmarks or objectives)?

When the goals are well written and the evaluation criteria is clear, we will know how well the student is performing towards achieving their goal within a year by looking at the progress reports we receive from the team.  If the reports show lack of progress we will know early enough that the IEP team can reconvene and review and if necessary revise the student’s IEP to ensure the student is provided the adequate supports to reach his or her annual goals.

When looking at all information the school will give you, it will be in a manner in which you understand it. The information will also be objective, based on the data gathered by the teacher.  And if any of it is confusing, you don’t understand it or have questions, talk to your student’s teacher and ask them to help you understand the information you received.

What can I do if I still have questions?

One of the best things you can do is maintain good communication with the teachers and therapists. Depending on your student you may ask the teacher to give you weekly updates. You can do this with a notebook, a journal (I used a calendar) or via email. Many schools now have websites where parents can follow the class and school activities, homework, projects, etc. Schools want parents to be involved with their student’s education.  Ask questions, attend parent teacher conferences, attend school activities, get to know the school personnel and see what opportunities you and your child may have.

Note: This will be a series of posts so I can give each topic the time it needs to be explained. As I add to the topics I will place the links to this article so you don’t have to go far to find the information you are looking for.

In the upcoming posts we will go into detail on the following:


Parts of an IEP

I’ve been invited to an IEP, what do I do?

Once the team sits down for the IEP meeting

  • A statement of Present levels of academic and functional performance
  • A statement of Measurable Annual Goals
  • A description of progress towards annual goals – both academic and functional
  • A statement of special education and Related Services as well as supplementary aids and services
  • A statement of the extent , if any, to which the child will participation with non-disabled peers
  • A statement of individual accommodations including participation in district and state-wide testing
  • Transition services & Age of majority
  • A projected date for the beginning of services including frequency, location and duration of those services.

Feel free to send me your questions or comments.

Luz Adriana

My name is Luz Adriana Martinez and for the past 27 years I have been working in the field of advocacy for children with disabilities. I hold an MBA from the University of Phoenix and a BA from the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico. I'm married to a great guy, Tito, an Army Veteran of 22 years, who supports all the crazy things I do. Being an Army wife also prepared us to be always on the move and without daddy for long periods of time. This also gave me the opportunity work and volunteer with organizations whose mission was to assist other military families. This blog results from my desire to give back to the many families that have given me and mine so much. I have had the fortune to be able to travel the world assisting military families and now that that stage of my life is over, I want to continue to share what I have learned in the hopes that I can still provide some information and resources to families who need it.

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