tree artwork 2In the development of the IEP the educational team creates goals and accompanying benchmarks (or objectives) to include in programming. These goals are based on assessment and the PLAAFP and should be guided by priorities set by the family with the educational team.

Most of the students who will benefit from an Active Learning approach are often said to “need everything” and so it can become difficult to set priorities. Too many goals can mean that the student does not have time to repeat activities as much as needed to be able to generalize a skill.  At the same time, there is a lot that the student needs to learn.

The Functional Scheme assessment is a valuable tool to use in identifying skills that may need to be focused on during instruction. It may help the team to identify the skills that are missing in the low ranges of function. This information may point the way to develop goals to address those areas and fill in gaps to learning.

We find it helpful to spend time with the family prioritizing the skills that will help the child function better within the context of their family’s life. Perhaps it will be most helpful if the student can become more independent with feeding, have less stress during personal hygiene routines, or able to play safely by his/herself while dad cooks dinner.

Additionally in each field of development (gross movement, fine movement, communication, travel, etc.) there are hundreds of skills that need to be mastered for learning to take place.  There are only so many hours in a day especially if the student is more susceptible to fatigue or misses school frequently due to medical issues. 

The wonderful thing about the Active Learning approach is that the student leads instruction through his/her own preferences and strengths. Each skill builds on itself to lead to the next skill. Our role as educators is to provide motivating and appropriate learning environments and activities to allow this to happen.

Goals and benchmarks in the IEP represent only a sample of what the child may actually be working on at any time during the day. They serve as a way to monitor whether key elements are being focused on based on the priorities set by the team.  So you may have the child working on reaching and grasping using a Little Room, but this doesn’t mean that the child might not also be learning how to use his vision or hearing to locate a preferred object during the same activity.  However, you may only be documenting progress in the IEP on the goal related to reach and grasp.

Goals and objectives that can be infused into a single activity or into multiple activities throughout the day insure adequate time to repeat and practice skills.  This leads to better generalization of skills across different environment and with a variety of people.

The goals and benchmarks insure teams are implementing instruction and checking to see if the student is making progress. That way, changes can be made if no progress is happening.

Goals

Goals are what the student is expected to attain during the course of one school-year and are the focus of instruction for most students who have severe and multiple disabilities. These students need very individualized instruction in all areas related to both the general and expanded core curriculum.

What might a goal and bench marks look like when it reflects an Active Learning approach?  We know it needs to include some specific information. A well-written goal should be (a) positive, and (b) describe a skill that can be seen and measured. It answers the questions:

“Who?. . . will achieve?

What?. . . skill or behavior?

How?. . . in what manner or at what level?

Where?. . . in what setting or under what conditions?

When?. . . by what time? an ending date?” 

(Anderson, Chitwood, & Hayden, 1997)

Here are some examples of goals related to Active Learning:

Physical Therapy

Element

Example

When?

By the end of the school year,

Who?

the student

Skill/behavior

will reach and grasp a variety of preferred objects

Manner

without being prompted and using a palmar grasp

Setting/conditions

when placed in specific learning environments (i.e. Little Room, near a Position Board, on a Resonance Board) during independent play and during adult-child interactions using the techniques of offering and imitation

Level

at least 10 times during a 15 minute observation period through weekly observations conducted by staff.

Math

Element

Example

When?

By the end of the school year,

Who?

the student

Skill/behavior

will tactually explore and experiment

Manner

using hands, feet, and mouth

Setting/conditions

a variety of objects and materials representing sets of 1 and more than 1 in various environments using specialized equipment (Little Room, HOPSA, Position Board, Support Bench) during independent play and during adult-child interactions using the techniques of offering and imitation

Level

continuously for 5 minutes during a 10 minute weekly observation period conducted by staff.

Literacy

Element

Example

When?

By the end of the school year,

Who?

the student

Skill/behavior

will explore objects

Manner

using vision and touch in combination

Setting/conditions

during independent play and adult-child interactions using the techniques of offering and imitation, when presented with Pegboard books and experience boxes developed around the student's real-life experiences,

Level

at least 10 times during a 15 minute observation period through weekly observations conducted by staff.

Benchmarks or objectives

Benchmarks or short-term objectives are required elements in a child’s IEP only if the student takes alternate assessments aligned to alternate achievement standards. (§300.320(a)(2)(ii)) They indicate the smaller steps a child will take to reach an annual goal and serve as a measurement gauge to determine if the child is making sufficient progress towards attaining an annual goal. (Read on the Center for Parent Information and Resources - https://www.parentcenterhub.org/benchmarks/)

These short steps help to insure that programming is on-track and working for the student. This way the team can make adjustments to instruction readily so that time isn’t wasted implementing programming that is not helping the child attain his/her annual goals.

Here are examples of the objectives related to Active Learning supporting our sample annual goal:

Goal: Physical Therapy

By the end of the school year the student will reach and grasp a variety of preferred objects without being prompted using a palmar grasp when placed in specific learning environments (i.e. Little Room, near a Position Board, on a Resonance Board) during independent play and during adult-child interactions with the adult using the techniques of offering and imitation at least 10 times during a 15 minute observation period through weekly observations conducted by staff.

Benchmarks or Objectives Examples:

  1. By October, during independent play in the Little Room or with a Position Board containing graspable objects, the student will reach and use a palmer grasp to attain objects at least 5 times during a weekly 15 minute observation.

  2. By November, during adult-child interactions on a Resonance Board using the techniques of offering and imitation, the child will independently reach and grasp various preferred graspable objects at least 5 times during a 15 minute weekly observation period.

  3. By December, during a weekly group activity, when offered graspable objects when the object is held or positioned so that it just touches the child’s body or within reach of a child’s independent movement, the student will reach and grasp the items at least 5 times during a 15 minute observation period.

  4. By March, during independent play in the Little Room and with a Position Board utilizing graspable objects, the student will reach and use a palmer grasp to attain objects at least 10 times during a weekly 15 minute observation.

  5. By April, during adult-child interactions on a Resonance Board using the techniques of offering and imitation, the child will independently reach and grasp various preferred graspable objects at least 10 times during a 15 minute weekly observation period.

  6. By May, during a weekly group activity, when the object is held or positioned so that it just touches the child’s body or within reach of a child’s independent movement, the student will reach and grasp the items at least 10 times during a 15 minute observation period.

 

If you like you may download this information in either a Word or PDF File.

benchmarks collage