November of 1981, the issue of Management Review contained a paper, There's a S.M.A.R.T. Way To Write Management's Goals and Objectives, by George T. Doran. This introduced us to using the SMART goal acronym in management companies. The U.S. Department of Education in presentations related to special education IEP goals introduced its use in 2000, approximately 20 years later, and it became mainstream in published special education books in 2002 but major quality assurance corporations, and the pharmaceutical, healthcare, and athletic industry had moved on to the most current research-based approach which was the use of SMARTER GOAL PROCESS for any goal or objective development.
They did this because the SMART goal concept was found to underestimate performance ability and did not modify interventions with research-based approaches. SMARTER Goals were noted as the most common and classical management method used in businesses by the Leader Syndrome in 2012, but the education community had not moved on to adopt what management experts later learned was necessary, which was to add the evaluation of the data collected and use that data to determine the appropriate use of research-based /proven interventions.
In 2008 NSEAI's curriculum added SMARTER Goals. It represented the addition of:
Evaluation of the data and the revision of the IEP based on that data, and use of Research-Based Intervention based on data.
SMART APPROACH: Get advice for the development of generic goals created by advocates or lawyers that are not specific to your child's specific identified educational needs.
SMARTER APPROACH: Get advice from expertly cross-trained advocates trained in individualized goal development based on evaluations that lead to competency-based independent outcomes. Your child deserves an expert.
SMART APPROACH: Identify skill “mastery," but mastery is not clearly defined.
SMARTER APPROACH: Skill mastery is defined in terms that require:
SMART APPROACH: You can only get a Legally sufficient IEP.
SMARTER APPROACH: You get a legally sufficient IEP that is child-focused, individualized, and competency-based. This requires:
SMART APPROACH: Test for mastery of tasks in a classroom or related service environments.
SMARTER APPROACH: Measure mastery of sub-skills and a combination of skills involved in tasks across differing environments.
I remember when two special education lawyers said to me, " They just have to be SMART goals." I responded, "Well, that is not what the regulations say. The book about goals (written by a lawyer) has many goals that are NOT even measurable. I demonstrate this in my lectures, all the time. If the IEP team does not know the underlying splinter skill deficit and the developmental progression to mastery of a task, then they cannot write an individualized goal.
All Special Education Advocates must be cross-trained themselves to understand what progress monitoring tools are available. You have to understand the evaluation process to do that. If you understand the evaluation process, you will get more than a legally sufficient IEP. This is done through clear identification of educationally-based needs with clearly defined baselines.
Advocates should not consider what is best for the school or the teachers when analyzing a child’s IEP. They should focus on the child’s unique needs (and baselines) and how they need to be addressed through
IF THE IEP TEAM DOES NOT KNOW
THE UNDERLYING SPLINTER SKILL DEFICIT AND
THE DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION TO MASTERY OF A TASK,
THEN THEY CANNOT WRITE AN INDIVIDUALIZED GOAL.
SMARTER GOALS INCLUDE:
Specific Areas of Need - Academic, Developmental, and Functional Skill Sets
Measurable and Meaningful Data Collection
Attainable Advancement That Is Time-Bound
Relevant to all 5 types of Curriculums
Teachable via Instructional Accommodations and Strategies of SDIs and SAS
Evaluation of Data - Reviewed by Team with Readjustment to the IEP
Research/Evidence-Based Methods Used
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Marie Lewis is an author, consultant, and national speaker on best practices in education advocacy. She is a parent of 3 children and a Disability Case Manager, Board Certified Education Advocate, and Behavior Specialist Consultant. She has assisted in the development of thousands of IEPs nationally and consults on developing appropriately individualized IEPs that are outcome based vs legally sufficient. She brings a great depth of expertise, practical experience, and compassion to her work as well as expert insight, vision, and systemic thinking. She is passionate and funny and she always inspires and informs.
MJ Gore has an MEd in counseling and a degree in elementary education and natural sciences. She worked as a life-skills and learning support teacher She has been honored with the receipt of the Presidential Volunteer Service Award. She is the Director and on the faculty at the National Special Education Advocacy Institute. Her passion is social justice, especially in the area of education. She is a Board Certified Education Advocate who teaches professional advocates, educators, and clinicians the best practices in education advocacy.
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