Speech-language therapy can play a critical role in a child's academic success. Intervention and treatment yield better academic outcomes when well-written speech goals and objectives appear on the child's Individual Education Plan, or IEP. A good goal is written to be achieved in about a year, or when the IEP is rewritten. IEPs must be reviewed once a year but can be revisited more often if a student's needs change.
Criteria for Goals and Objectives
The criteria for speech-language goals and objectives are based on research and standards from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, or ASHA. Benchmarks are created from normally developing children. When a child deviates from the benchmarks, therapy is recommended and the therapist creates goals and objectives that are meant to bring the child closer to his non-disabled peers' skill level.
Areas addressed in a school-based setting will revolve around phonological development, receptive or expressive language, and vocabulary. Younger children will focus on spoken language and older children may have written and spoken goals and objectives. School-based therapy is often conducted in a small group setting to enhance the socialization aspects of language.
A goal is an expression of a desired outcome that is usually achievable in about a year. A good IEP goal should address the student's communication needs, be observable and measurable, and should describe how it will be measured. The goal should also give a method for tracking its progress. An example of a long-term goal might be, "By the next anticipated IEP review date, the student will produce stops /b, p, d, t/ in conversational speech with 80% fluency, as recorded by the SLP via written record."
An objective breaks down a specific task that will be used to accomplish the goal. On an IEP, for every one goal, there should be between 2 to 4 objectives. Some districts are more specific about how many objectives they want on an IEP. However, if the speech-language pathologist cannot come up with more than two objectives, the goal is probably not written broadly enough and it should be revised. An example of a short-term objective based on the above goal might be, "The student will give examples of similarities and differences in words in four out of five trials with 80% accuracy." The desired completion accuracy should match the target of the overall goal.
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