3 Reasons You Should Be Using Short Term Objectives on Every IEP


               The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) does not require Short Term Objectives or Benchmarks (STO/BM) on every IEP.  IDEA only requires STO/BM on IEPs for individuals who require alternate assessment. (United States Congress, 2004) This may leave a question in your mind, as it does many other teachers who write IEPs on a regular basis. 
                If using Short Term Objectives/Benchmarks is the best practice for one group of students, why shouldn’t we use it for other students as well?  Contemplate this question for just a minute, while also thinking about just what Short Term Goals mean to you in your everyday life.  In currently used Instructional Design terminology Short Term Goals and Benchmarks are referred to as something like landmarks along the way between the student’s current performance levels, and the completion of the student’s annual goals. (Lignugaris-Kraft, Marchand-Martella, & Martella, 2001) 
                As you contemplated Short Term Goals, did you think of the Goals you set for yourself on a daily basis?  Think, for instance, about cleaning your house.  When you clean, do you set benchmarks?  Do you decide to clean each room in a certain order, by a certain time?  If you do, you are probably a pretty effective household manager.  If you set these short term goals for yourself, you are doing the same thing as setting Short Term Objectives and Benchmarks on a student’s IEP.  It’s really that simple.
                Setting Short Term Objectives and Benchmarks on a student’s IEP should be second nature to teachers who write IEPs.  It just makes sense.  If you are going to write an IEP for a student, and give the student the very best chance at success, then you will include STO/BM.  Short Term Objectives and Benchmarks give you, general education teachers and other special education teachers alike landmarks along the way to make sure the student is making the appropriate progress.  (United States Congress, 2004) (Lignugaris-Kraft, Marchand-Martella, & Martella, 2001)
                There are numerous other reasons to include STO/BM on all IEPs.  One of which is that including STO/BM on every IEP allows the IEP writer (that’s you) an opportunity to positively affect the students experience on statewide mandated testing.  (Lignugaris-Kraft, Marchand-Martella, & Martella, 2001)  If teachers who write IEPs include appropriate accommodations in STO/BM on all IEPs then the teachers provide a basis for accommodations to be made in the student’s experience with statewide mandated testing. (Lignugaris-Kraft, Marchand-Martella, & Martella, 2001)
                Hopefully, in light of these reasons, you have decided to include Short Term Objectives and Benchmarks on all the IEPs you write from now on.  Short Term Objectives and Benchmarks give you and general education teachers a framework within which you can provide the best chance possible for each of your students to attain their annual goals.  (Lignugaris-Kraft, Marchand-Martella, & Martella, 2001)
                Besides the above reasons, there is one even more compelling reason to include Short Term Objectives and Benchmarks on All IEPs.  That is, if you are a quality teacher (which you probably are since you are reading this) then you already know that the better you prepare for instruction, the more effective instruction you can provide for your students.  And isn’t quality instruction the goal of every really good teacher? 

Lignugaris-Kraft, B., Marchand-Martella, N., & Martella, R. C. (2001). Strategies for Writing Better Short-Term Goals or Benchmarks. TEACHING Exceptional Children , 52-58.
United States Congress. (2004). Individuals with Disabilities Education Act . Public Law 94-142 . United States Congress.

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