SMART goals for IEPS


Annual Goals for IEPs should be written using the SMART goal format.



S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Attainable

R – Realistic / Relevant

T – Time Limited


Be very specific about the action. For instance: Which of the following are NOT specific?:

raise his/her hand for attention,

 -use a classroom voice,

– read the pre-primer Dolch Words,

– complete homework,

– keep hands and feet to him/herself,

–  point to 1 want, or 1 need using augmentative symbols.

S – Specific

Clearly describe the behaviour or academic goal.  i.e. will read at SRA level X by the end of semester.  Will use fidgit toys during circle time.

M – Measurable

Then decide what determines the success of the goal. For instance:

–          how many consecutive minutes will the child remain on task? How many gym periods?

–          How fluently will the child read the words – without hesitation and prompting?

–          What percentage of accuracy? How often?

T – Time limited

Then you need to provide a time frame or location/context for the goal. For instance:

–          during silent reading time, while in the gym,

–           at recess time, by the end of 2nd term,

–          point to 1 picture symbol when something is needed.

Some Examples of Not-So SMART Goals

A vague, broad or general goal is unacceptable in the IEP. Goals that state will improve reading ability, will improve his/her behaviour, will do better in math should be stated much more specifically with reading levels or benchmarks, or frequency or level of improvement to attain and a time frame for when the improvement will occur.

Using “will improve his/her behaviour ‘is also not specific. Although you may want behaviour improved, which specific behaviours are targeted first along with when and how are a critical part of the goal.

You need to clearly define the behaviour concerns to start to identify ways to improve it.

SMART tips

Keep it positive – i.e. keep hands on fidget toy in hallways NOT do not knock on classroom doors in hall

Include any curricular modifications. If the curriculum states that the goal is to count to 50 and you state count to 10, this is a modification.

Include any curricular accommodations. This will include things like: scribing, a quite setting to take tests, assistive technology etc.

Provide any support staff that will be involved in the IEP

Indicate materials and or resources to be used

Most importantly, make sure the IEP is based on priorities for the student.

IEP Samples


1.            Explore the sample IEPs and discuss.  Can you identify the SMART goals?  Create a student profile based on one IEP.

Remember – SMART

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Attainable
  • R – Realistic / Relevant
  • T – Time Limited


2.            In your groups role play what 5 minutes of this student’s day would look like in their classroom.

Student Profile


  • Name, age, grade, strengths, needs
  • Key areas of academic focus/need
  • Brief biographic sketch (who is this person really?)

Transition Plan

Note: IEPs for students with ASD must have a transition plan.  This is part of PPM 140

Also, for all Exceptional students (except Gifted) a transition plan is required for transition from Elementary to Secondary and from Secondary to Post-Secondary (work, community resources, education, apprenticeships etc…)



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