Understanding the results of your child’s LD evaluation provides you with the information you need to create meaningful goals and objectives—the basis upon which his Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is built.
Based on the evaluation results, advocate for annual goals and short-term objectives that address the underlying issues affecting his performance. Goals and objectives should aim to remediate and compensate for weaknesses, while capitalizing on strengths.
In contrast, an annual goal that states your child will read at grade level and short-term objectives for him to increase level-by-level each quarter until he meets that goal do not address underlying needs and skill deficits. To be effective, the goals and objectives must get at the root of his reading problems and aim to correct them.
Let the Evaluation Be Your Guide
Begin by asking what do test results tell you about the source of his learning challenges? Look at his subtests—his errors, correct answers and scores. If, for example, his subtest results indicate that his reading comprehension is at grade level, but his decoding skills and oral reading ability lag behind, his annual goal may be:
Jimmy will be able to decode and read aloud, fluently, at grade level.
His short-term objectives should be based upon his specific problems, as indicated by the subtests, coupled with other data gleaned from the evaluation process.
Jimmy’s subtests show that he struggles with phonological awareness and decoding skills, especially with consonant/vowel/consonant (CVC) words, such as cat and dog, and vowel team words, such as lean and boat. His short-term objectives should address those issues specifically. For example:
Jimmy will increase his (CVC) phonological awareness by identifying single letter consonant sounds on 8 of 10 trials.
Jimmy will increase his CVC phonological awareness by identifying short vowel sounds on 8 of 10 trials.
Jimmy will increase his CVC decoding skills by identifying, matching and grouping CVC word families (e.g. AT family—bat, cat, fat, mat…) with 80% accuracy.
Jimmy will increase his CVC decoding skills by orally reading CVC word families when presented: as a group with 80% accuracy; in isolation with 80% accuracy; in context with 80% accuracy.
Jimmy will increase his vowel team awareness by identifying vowel team sounds on 8/10 trials.
Jimmy will increase his vowel team decoding skills by identifying, matching and grouping vowel team word families with the same consonant ending (e.g., OA—boat, coat; EA—beam, seam, team.) with 80% accuracy.
Evaluation is a time-consuming process. As educators, evaluators and parents, we need to make testing and the evaluation process as relevant, worthwhile and useful as possible. When done properly, evaluation facilitates meaningful IEP development, with a focus on goals and objectives that enhance learning and promote real progress for your child.
- Use the same instruments to compare your child’s initial progress with his later performance. Don’t take report cards or test grades at face value.
- Organize his file. Keep a chronological list of his evaluations, with the evaluator’s name, test names, dates, and scores for each evaluation.
- If you have unanswered questions or are uncertain about the information you receive from the school, consult with a private psychologist or educational diagnostician to review your child’s status and to identify other methods and strategies to address his learning challenges, while capitalizing on strengths.
Donna A. Chauvin Quallen is a consultant, general and special educator, and former educational and special services administrator. Eve Kessler, Esq., a criminal appellate attorney with The Legal Aid Society, NYC, is co-founder and President of SPED*NET, Special Education Network of Wilton, Ltd., www.spednetwilton.org, and a Contributing Editor of Smart Kids.