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 her 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 her performance. Goals and objectives should aim to remediate and compensate for weaknesses, while capitalizing on strengths.
But all too often the goals and objectives are vague and do not deal with specific deficits. For example, an annual goal that states your child will read at grade level followed by short-term objectives for her to increase level-by-level each quarter until she meets that goal do not address underlying needs and skill deficits.
To be effective, the goals and objectives must get at the roots of the learning disability and aim to correct them.
Let the Evaluation Be Your Guide
Begin by asking what do test results tell you about the source of your child’s learning challenges? Look at the subtests—her errors, correct answers, and scores. If, for example, her subtest results indicate that her reading comprehension is at grade level, but her decoding skills and oral reading ability lag behind, her annual goal may be:
Mary will be able to decode and read aloud, fluently, at grade level.
Her short-term objectives should be based upon her specific problems, as indicated by the subtests, coupled with other data gleaned from the evaluation process.
Mary’s subtests show that she 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. Her short-term objectives should address those issues specifically. For example:
Mary will increase her (CVC) phonological awareness by identifying single letter consonant sounds on 8 of 10 trials.
Mary will increase her CVC phonological awareness by identifying short vowel sounds on 8 of 10 trials.
Mary will increase her CVC decoding skills by identifying, matching, and grouping CVC word families (e.g. AT family—bat, cat, fat, mat…) with 80% accuracy.
Mary will increase her 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.
Mary will increase her vowel team awareness by identifying vowel team sounds on 8/10 trials.
Mary will increase her 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 her later performance. Don’t take report cards or test grades at face value.
- Organize her file. Keep a chronological list of her 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 her 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.