About the goals
The most common error in drafting postsecondary goals is to include information regarding present circumstances, as opposed to developing goals that forecast what the student plans to do after high school. They should be statements of what the child hopes to achieve after high school, not the process of pursing the stated goals.
There must be a statement of appropriate, measurable postsecondary goals based upon transition assessment in the areas of:
- education and/or training,
- employment, and
- independent living skills, where appropriate.
Guidelines for writing goals
Postsecondary goals must be:
- based on a transition assessment;
- written in measurable, observable terms stating an outcome for after high school;
- as specific as possible. As teams meet over a student's high school years, postsecondary goals typically become more specific;
- realistic. Recent court decisions clearly indicate that IEP teams must shepherd the selection of postsecondary goals so that the goals are a realistic match with the transition assessment information.
Here's a side-by-side comparison of compliant and non-compliant examples of goals on a variety of topics:
Setting realistic goals
What to do when student preference and reality are in conflict? As a rule, transition assessment data trumps student preference. While a student's stated preference is a critical piece of assessment information, it's incumbent on the district to guide the student and family toward realistic choices and alternatives through the transition assessment process.
Here are some examples of when preference and reality are in conflict:
A student states that becoming a pilot for a major airline is his postsecondary employment goal. Transition assessment indicates this is not realistic. It should be explored with him why he wants to be a pilot and then link his motivations to other jobs related to the airline industry. He should be educated on and exposed to the other opportunities.×
A student with autism wants to be a “famous chef on the Food Network”. In this case, being a chef may be realistic but “famous chef on the Food Network” is not. School staff and/or parents would explore with her the realities of employment for Culinary Arts students versus her perceptions.×
For his postsecondary goals, a student is insistent about attending a Division 1 university on a football scholarship and then playing professional football. Transition assessment indicates this is not realistic. Members of the IEP team would help him understand why he does not meet requirements for a Division 1 school. Other football related options could be explored if appropriate. In this case, a football coach would be a very useful member of the IEP team.×
Examples of independent living goals
After high school, Lou will improve his social, self-advocacy, and self-care skills by attending instruction at a center-based adult day program.
After graduation, Taryn will live at home and participate to the maximum extent possible in her daily routines (e.g., feeding, dressing, bathing, activating small appliances/media devices, choice making) through the use of technology.
Upon completion of high school, Susan will attend a recreational/leisure skills program at a day services program on a daily basis.
Lou will express his preferences related to his postsecondary employment options, given picture symbols on an augmentative communication device.
After graduation, Taryn’s parents think she will live at home and hopefully further develop independent living skills.
Upon completion of high school, Susan may participate in a day treatment program for students with cognitive impairments.
Examples of employment goals
After high school, Julie will have a career in the field of early childhood education.
After completing high school, Gaylee is going to be a self-employed welder.
After high school, Lisa will become a full-time employee at the hairdressing business where she now works.
Julie hopes to work with young children someday.
Upon completion of high school, Gaylee plans to be a welder.
Lisa has learned a lot about the hairdressing business and will try to become a full-time employee.
Examples of training/education goals
Upon completion of high school, Melissa will enroll in courses at a local community college.
After high school, Frank is going to attend AVTEC to study welding.
After earning his high school diploma, Adam will attend a 4-year college majoring in Education.
After leaving high school, Melissa wants to take some classes at a local community college.
Frank is taking welding now and has looked into several welding programs.
Adam intends to attend college after high school.