Goals & Objectives

Measurable Annual Goals (MAGs)

CRITERIA for IEP Goals (section V of IEP):

Each goal should ...

  • Be prioritized. It is considered best practice to limit the number of goals in order to increase focus and effectiveness. Do not attempt to address every need with a specific IEP goal. Although some needs might be addressed in services the student receives, it is not necessary or considered best practice to link every perceived student need with a specific IEP goal. Each IEP goal should meet the criteria listed here.

  • Build specific skills (identified in NEEDS at the end of the Present Levels).

  • Begin from baseline of skill (present levels). The goal should focus on a measurable, high-priority skill and not be vague or generally related to grading in class ("achieve an 80% in __ class, etc.). Progress monitoring should track the same skill area comparing "apples to apples" - i.e., a specific skill ("given a 5th grade reading passage ... answering comprehension questions" or "given 1-step equations ... solving") and NOT merely achieving a particular score on various reading assignments or math problems. This is a mistake often made in IEP-writing. It is important to track and measure specific skills.

  • Project student performance at the end of one year of instruction. (Do not make the goal so specific that it is easily achieved in a short period of time.)

  • Be relevant to the student's current educational and curricular programming. (In other words, the presence of a perceived need doesn't automatically justify a corresponding IEP goal, especially if there is not educational or curricular programming that can/will be addressing that need. Unless the IEP team agrees to create programming to address the need, a corresponding goal should not be written. It doesn't make sense to monitor a goal's progress if the student isn't receiving corresponding instruction and support.)

  • Be feasible in terms of meaningful progress monitoring (at least every 2-3 weeks). In other words, a goal must have a way to be tracked - either by the general education teacher in the general education curriculum, or there must be time in the day/week for the special education teacher to obtain progress monitoring. If this is not feasible due to administrative decisions, a different IEP goal should be selected.

  • Contain measurable, countable data for progress monitoring.

Goals are ...

  • NOT the curriculum objectives or subject area lessons

  • NOT grade averages, test scores, or passing a course

  • NOT the same as postsecondary goals

Measurable Annual Goals (MAGs):

  • MAGs must be skill-building.

  • MAGs should help the student access, participate, and make progress in the general curriculum and the life of the school/community AND progress towards his/her postsecondary goals.

  • MAGs must be an observable, measurable behavior.

  • MAGs are based on the PRIORITY NEEDS identified in the Present Levels.

  • MAGs must be connected to postsecondary goals for students with a transition plan.

  • For students age 14-21, every measurable annual goal (MAG) and short term objective (STO) supports the student’s post-secondary goals.

How to Write MAGs

Each goal should have these elements:

  • Baseline Data - It is helpful to briefly list the baseline data from the present levels (%, number, etc.).

  • Condition - The condition describes the situation in which the student will perform the behavior. (Examples: Given visual cues, during independent practice in math, using a self-monitoring checklist, using passages from content area classes, given a writing prompt, etc.).

  • Student’s Name - Include student’s first name in the goal.

  • Observable Behavior - This portion specifically describes the behavior in measurable, observable terms. Use action verbs to state what the student will do. Avoid vague terms like understand, recognize, or discover since they cannot be observed or directly counted. The student will … add/subtract, identify, list, locate, rank, recite, retell, select, state, describe, raise hand, solve, summarize, write …

  • Performance Criteria - There are three distinct components that must be included in the performance criteria of each goal:

    1. Criterion Level - Indicate the performance level the student must demonstrate. Examples: % of time, ___ out of ___, scoring at a level of 3 on a 4-point rubric (attach rubric), ___ times or less in ___ minutes, for ___ consecutive minutes, ___ times per day, ___ words correct per minute, ___ digits correct per minute, with ___ or fewer errors, no more than ___ occurences of

    2. Number - Indicate the number of times the behavior must be performed at criterion level to reach mastery. Examples: 3 consecutive trials, 4 out of 5 trials, 3 random trials, by ___ (date), 2 times per week

    3. Evaluation Schedule/Method - Indicate how frequently the student will be assessed and the method of assessment. Examples: The student will be assessed using: daily and weekly work samples; bi-weekly reading probes; teacher-developed scoring rubrics. Progress monitoring should be frequent & systematic (i.e., every 2 weeks .... 3 weeks). Curriculum-based assessments are easy to use, practical, and recommended by some professionals. NOTE: It is helpful to visualize students' progress with an easy-to-read GRAPH.

Each goal should have a PA CC standard to correlate with the goal.

Writing the MAG - Questions to Ask:

  • What do we want the student to actually DO to show that s/he is learning the skill? (may use or paraphrase language from standard, anchor, etc.)

  • With what materials, or under what conditions?

  • How will we measure the skill?

  • How often will we measure it?

  • How well must s/he perform the skill?

  • How consistently must the skill be performed to demonstrate mastery (endpoint)?

  • What other assessments/forms of data will also indicate if s/he is progressing towards the goal?

NOTE: The 2017 Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District supreme court case has clear implications for IEP goals. These goals should be appropriately ambitious and challenging (vs. minimal), and also measurable. Each goal should be aspirational, yet reasonably reachable.

At the end of each 9 week period, progress monitoring should be listed for each goal.

See IEP Goal Bank