Undivided: How to Write Strength-Based Goals in an IEP

Strength-Based IEP Goals



Educators and administrators may have low expectations of what kids with disabilities can accomplish. Learn how to change that mindset with strength-based IEPs, which focus on and utilize the skills our kids already have. IEP goals prioritize the skills that each child needs to learn to progress through the school year, and they should be developed with the student's long-term goals in mind. Here’s how to write appropriately challenging goals in an IEP, starting from their strengths.

How and why should I write IEP goals?

You're probably wondering why writing IEP goals should fall to you; it's the teachers and therapists who should be doing this, after all, and they will. However, you know your child best, so you can help the IEP team build goals based on your child’s unique strengths. Goals are one of the most important parts of a student’s IEP, and they also happen to be among the most intimidating. Don’t let them be! Start by identifying the skills you want your child to learn. Then consider the supports that will be necessary for them to make progress toward learning that skill as well as how to measure their progress. Check out our article How to Write IEP Goals for a step-by-step guide to help you prepare appropriately challenging goals for your child that you can discuss with your IEP team.



How and why should I write IEP goals?

Where can I find a template for writing IEP goals?

What are Core Content Connectors?

Why do strength-based goals matter?

Related Parent Questions

How can I turn my child’s strengths into IEP goals?
Get creative! If your child responds to music or is skilled at singing or playing an instrument, you can incorporate music into their goals. Any skill such as typing, sign language, or other strength that helps your child learn better can be part of their IEP goals.
Why is a strength-based IEP more effective?
Strength-based IEPs are effective because they focus on the whole child — not just a child’s disabilities. Focusing on the whole child means writing IEPs in a positive way that honors a student’s abilities, possibilities, interests, and support needs.
What does it mean that an IEP goal was “partially met”?
The only way a goal can be marked as “partially met” is if there was improvement from the baseline. Make sure you have the previous year’s IEP with you so you can reference the baselines. If there is no number attached to that goal, request it and the data that was collected to track that goal.

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