UNDERSTANDING SMARTER GOALS

SMARTER GOALS CREATE IMPROVED IEP OUTCOMES

YOU NEED TO KNOW ENOUGH -

TO ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS -

TO GET THE RIGHT ANSWERS

What you don’t know will hurt you!

 

HISTORY:

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.

 

Compare SMART VS. SMARTER Approaches:

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:

  • Consistent performance
  • Fluency
  • Independence (lacks prompts)
  • Generalization demonstrating real-life functional performance.

 

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:

  • Information about areas of remediation and the specific subset of skill deficits involved that must be remediated.
    • Annual goals that are specific and measurable, meeting the child's academic AND functional needs
    • Annual goals that describe how the child's progress will be measured to prove remediation, and the closing of the educational gap.
    • Gathering of documentation so to prevent disagreements with the school district.

 

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.

  • On the surface, a single task may appear to be measuring the same set of functional skills but may in fact require very different levels of the skills that differ in their cognitive requirements or executive functioning. Focusing on the wrong skill leads to different or inconsistent results based on the presentation of tasks across different environments. Sub-skill tasks (objectives) must be mastered before a general goal task has any predictive value of mastery.1
  • Reading has 5 different skills each with many sub-skills. One of those skills is phonological awareness that has 10 sub-skills. 7 (non-rhyming ones) were predictive of 1st grade and subsequent reading ability.1 Progression to reading mastery at higher levels and subsequent reading skills are impaired if they are missed. Focusing on the wrong skill does not improve outcomes.
  • Why would we focus on: phonics and pattern/word study, fluency, vocabulary, or comprehension when a prerequisite developmental and foundation skill of phonemic awareness for reading is missing?
  • I have seen many 16-year-old non-progressing students be evaluated, only to find that they have pre-school pre-reading skill deficits. No one checked to see why they were not progressing. How can you set goals in reading fluency for a student who cannot identify letters or sounds?

 

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

  • Identifying all areas of need
  • Use of Specially Designed Instruction in the Least Restrictive Environment
  • Determine how to measure progress so the skill deficit is measured
  • Level of related services and supports to school personnel needed
  • Development of IEPs that are not just LEGALLY CORRECT but also EDUCATIONALLY MEANINGFUL. Taking a single-sided view will lead to disaster. 

 

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  

  • Evaluated with independent baselines - without prompts

Measurable and Meaningful Data Collection

  • Data on the actual skill that is needing remediation, not other things.

Attainable Advancement That Is Time-Bound

  • Not underestimating ability to progress
  • One IEP had a child with a reading disorder to achieve 5 words in one year in their goal

Relevant to all 5 types of Curriculums 

  • General/Core or Modified Core Curriculum
  • Expanded/Functional Curriculum
  • Extracurricular Curriculum
  • Assistive Technology Curriculum and
  • Behavioral Curriculum

Teachable via Instructional Accommodations and Strategies of SDIs and SAS

  • SAS—supplementary aids and services - specific materials, resources, aids, strategies or services to gain access to the general education curriculum
  • SDIs—Specially Designed Instruction – unique instruction or assessments needed for instruction

Evaluation of Data - Reviewed by Team with Readjustment to the IEP

  • If you don’t change the IEP you will keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results!

Research/Evidence-Based Methods Used

  • So eclectic unproven methods are not used like the Whole Language Approach to reading that was an educational fad base on theory and no research that was catastrophic to students and created regression.

 

This is the first of 8 blogs addressing the use of Smarter Goals in order to attain better functional outcomes  for our children.  Make sure you SUBSCRIBE to the blog so you do not miss any of them.

NEXT UP ON THE AGENDA

2. SMARTER GOALS: SPECIFIC

3. SMARTER GOALS: MEASURABLE

4. SMARTER GOALS: ATTAINABLE

5. SMARTER GOALS: RELEVANT

6. SMARTER GOALS: TEACHABLE

7. SMARTER GOALS: EVALUATION

8. SMARTER GOALS: RESEARCH BASED

NSEAI's online courses efficiently lead parents and professionals to an expert level of education advocacy in just 12 days of on-demand courses that you can do at your convenience.

OUR CHILDREN DO NOT HAVE TIME TO WASTE.

LEARN TO DEVELOP A CHILD FOCUSED IEP CORRECTLY FROM THE START vs JUST ACCEPTING A LEGALLY SUFFICIENT ONE!

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AUTHORS

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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