Q: Is 80% the “correct” or “standard” percentage for IEP Goals? Should 80% be the percentage for most goals?
A: No. 80% is often used in IEP goals, but this is NOT a standard and should only be used if, after careful consideration of both the specific goal and the individual child’s skill, it is determined to be reasonably ambitious and appropriate for that particular child. For example, there are some goals that must be set at 100%. Would you set a goal that a child should look both ways before crossing the street at 80%? 90%? 95%? NO! Your child must master the goal of checking for traffic before entering the street at 100% before they can be considered to have mastered this skill! If they haven’t mastered it, would you move on to teaching the next skill of independently walking to school? NO! You’d keep working on looking both ways.
Many academic goals must be mastered at higher than 80% as well. For example, early reading decoding skills need to be achieved at around 95-100% before they are considered “mastered.” Being able to read 80% of words that are consonant-vowel-consonant or “CVC,” (like “cat), is insufficient. Only mastering 80% of kindergarten sight words before moving on to first or second grade sight words is insufficient. For skills like this, even if it takes the child a long time to master, the skill should be reviewed until a much higher level of mastery than 80%.
I have seen middle school writing goals for putting a capital letter at the beginning of a sentence set at 80%. Again, it is student specific— it’s individualized, don’t forget. But ask yourself—can we reasonably expect that this child could master capitalizing sentences 90 or 95% of the time with specialized instruction?
If your child’s IEP goals are set at 80% (which I bet is far more than 80% of you!), ask yourself why, and what would be appropriate for your individual child given their particular goals.
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