[ABCs of SPED] R is for Realistic, Relevant, and Research-Based

abcs of sped Jul 05, 2018

Something my mom said growing up was that the 4th of July was the midpoint of the summer. She wasn't incorrect, but I still hated hearing it! We just always seem to get here so fast! If you're nearing the new school year (we start back in one month!), today's post will be helpful for you.

Today we're taking about the 3 R's. Not the typical ones, but important nonetheless, especially for goal-setting:

Realistic, relevant and research-based

If you've been following along with IEP Guru for awhile, you may recognize these as the "R" in the SMART goals acronym. This post will break down what this looks like and why it's so important.

First, realistic:

We want to make sure that goals are written to be appropriately challenging yet attainable with high quality instruction and the correct supports. Goals that are too easy lead to boredom, while goals that are too difficult lead to frustration and shutting down! A realistic goal is just outside of reach based on the child's current abilities, but is able to be reached with appropriate support and training from a teacher or service provider.

Second, relevant:

We want goals that are relevant for our child's future, and that will offer long-term benefits. For example, how often in your adult life have you needed to know that Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin or that Clara Barton founded the Red Cross?

While knowledge such as this is often found in state standards, we must consider that there are often far more areas of need for our students than we can address in one school year.

As such, we want to focus on goals that will offer the most long-term benefit and can be transferable into other settings or from school year to school year. The best goals look at age-appropriate grade-level standards, and then distill them into a developmentally-appropriate stepping stone (or benchmark!). This can be as simple as taking a standard about American history (i.e. the Red Cross) and using it to create a realistic and relevant goal about identifying colors and shapes. We want to make sure the connection to grade-level standards is there while also making the goal relevant to what will help the student long-term.

Lastly, research-based:

The supports and strategies used to support a child's goals should be based on best-practice research. Your child is not a guinea pig! As I often say, education is too important to be left up to chance. If your child needs something, or the school is proposing something, make sure you ask what the research says to support X or Y. Does your child need a reading intervention program? Make sure the team is using a proven curriculum that has been shown to be helpful for students with disabilities. Does your student require behavior interventions? Argue for a methodology such as A.B.A. which is research-based. 

So much of education is "status quo," i.e. "this is what we do because this is the way we've always done it." Don't be afraid to ask for evidence that the status quo is actually effective! And if it's not, don't be afraid to do your own research into what may be better.

Does your child have realistic and relevant goals that are supported by research-based curriculum and interventions? If you're not sure, I can help! Check out our Personalized IEP Review service to see how we can get your child ready for the best school year yet! 

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