Saturday, November 2, 2013

Saturday Soapbox: Your objectives don't have to measure 200 things.

Does anyone else have goal pet peeves?  It's difficult when you are taking over a new caseload and working off of someone else's goals.  Most of the goals are fantastic but sometimes they fall into my GOAL PENALTY BOX.  Here are some of the goals I find impossible to work on-and some suggestions for making them more measurable.

IMPOSSIBLE GOAL #1:  Objectives that measure 200 things-or something like that.  Here are two examples:  

Janet will complete the following vocabulary tasks with 90% accuracy within a one year period: 
1.  compare/contrast
2.  multiple meaning words
3.  figurative language
4.  prefixes/suffixes
5.  Define words using 5 attributes.  

Jackson will produce the following speech sounds: /b, p, n, k, s, th, r, ng, t, sh and l/ within all word positions the following contexts: 
a.  single syllable
b.  word level
c.  phrase level
d.  sentence level
e.  conversation.  

The first objective requires 5 different goals to be met before the objective is discontinued.  The second is measuring 165 different things.  That means I'm going to be up until  2 am trying to write their progress report.  And the reality is that, in a group setting, I won't have time to sample 165 things before my first progress reports are due-let alone teach them how to say the sounds or give them enough practice in order to generalize the skill.  

I prefer goals which have one measurement.  For example in the first goal, I've decided that I want to measure their vocabulary skills by teaching different multiple meaning words.  I find it helpful if I come up with a set list to focus on during the school year.

So I could write a goal like: 
Following direct teaching and instruction, Janet will improve vocabulary skills from being able to define 4 pairs of multiple meaning words to defining 60 pairs of multiple meaning words within a small group setting.  

This goal seems much more manageable-I can pick a list of words to teach and I can set up a worksheet or a Quia activity to check her progress when it comes time to write progress reports.  

The second goal probably was written because the therapist just wrote down every error the child had on the articulation assessment.

First of all, I might consider a phonological or motor speech approach for a kiddo that is exhibiting that many errors.  But if I truly felt like articulation was the only method for this student, I would choose the  sounds I think would make the biggest difference for them to improve intelligibility.  I'd probably write down the other sound errors within the prior level of functions and make it clear to the parents what I think their child can accomplish within that year.  I'd give each sound it's own objective but might combine them all for the actual yearly goal.  

So for example, I think that my student can get to the sentence level for /k/ production.  I'd write a goal such as "Jackson will improve his articulation skills from being unable to produce the /k/ phoneme at the single syllable level to producing the /k/ in all word positions at the sentence level within a one year period."

I might need to write a little more narrative in the student's progress reports to explain where they are at for the first progress reports.  (ex. Jackson has improved from being unable to produce /k/ to producing with 80% accuracy given a verbal model at the word level.  He is beginning to produce the /k/ at the phrase level and is demonstrating steady progress towards his yearly goal of producing /k/ at the sentence level.)  

What do you think?  Do you LOVE to write mega-goals/objectives or do you prefer to measure one thing like me?  I'd love to hear from you!  Check back next Saturday when I complain about another common objective mistake-trying to teach the test.  If you found this post helpful, please consider sharing on Facebook or Pinterest by clicking on the buttons below.  


SpeechLanguagePirates said...

My pet peeve is when goals have ambiguous words, like "navigate an AAC device" or "demonstrate understanding". I also hate the goals with 97 phonemes!

SpeechLanguagePirates said...

My pet peeve is when goals have ambiguous words like "demonstrate understanding" or "navigate an AAC device". Grrr. I also hate goals with 97 phonemes. Or when there's 4 phonemes but 3 of them are like /th, r, s/ for a 5 year old! Haha

Mary said...

AMEN!!! It absolutely drives me INSANE to get an IEP with objectives like your examples! A little common sense goes a long way!

Michelle Duncan said...

I am so with you on this. I get goals and objectives from others like the child will use grammatically complete sentences including the correct pronoun and auxiliary verb when providing 3 characteristics of designated curricular vocabulary. If we are unable to focus how is a child suppose to know what they are to work on?

Diana Feldman said...

The best is "Will improve receptive and expressive language skills to 80% accuracy."

Cathy White said...

I get so frustrated when a goal is difficulty to measure such as "will learn 50 new vocabulary words"...which vocabulary words? Or when the goal target multiple things in one goal such as "will increase appropriate use of the following pragmatic skills: verbal initiation for needed items or clarification, perspective taking, reasoning, negotiation with peers, understanding/predicting motives and intent of others, adjust reactions to match severity of situation" and I did not even make that one up! UGH...very difficult to manage! I LOVE your post!!! :)

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