Annual goals identify area where a student needs special education services or specially designed instruction. The purpose of goals is to permit the IEP team to evaluate whether a student is making progress in an area of need.  Goals can be functional or academic.

There are no legal limits on the number of goals an IEP can contain. For each area in which a special education student has an identified need, the IEP team must develop measurable annual goals. (CA ED Code Section 56345) If the student has one area of need, they will have one goal. If they have five areas of need, they will have five goals.

Annual goals must be based upon the student’s present level of academic achievement and functional performance, and which the child has a chance of attaining within a year. (CA ED Code Section 56345; Parents v. Del Mar Unified School Dist.. (2017) OAH# 2017010586). Development of the IEP, including goals, is a fact-intensive exercise. (Endrew F. ex rel. Joseph F. V. Douglas County School Dist. RE-1 (2017) 137 S. Ct. 988). The Supreme Court in Endrew held the IEP must be drafted in light of the child’s circumstances. A majority of an IEP meeting should focus on this fact-intensive exercise.

When the IEP goals fundamentally fail to address the student’s needs based on a misunderstanding of the district’s obligations under the IDEA, there is a de facto failure to meet the requirements of federal and state law. (Parents v. Liberty Union High School Dist. (2017) OAH# 2017020873). In the Liberty case, the school district did not believe they had an obligation to remediate fundamental reading and spelling weaknesses of a high school student. They believed they were only required to provide accommodations and modifications which would allow the student to access the curriculum. OAH disagreed.

As you prepare for your child’s IEP meeting, in addition to other documents the school will rely upon, be sure to request a copy of any draft present levels of performance and goals which will be shared among school district personnel prior to the meeting. If you cannot understand how the two documents relate to each other and allow you to measure progress, contact Kristin Springer at (925) 551-1041 to discuss the legal sufficiency of the documents. It is easier to correct procedural errors before they happen.


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