Measurable IEP goals that address Executive Functioning deficits

Another post by popular demand! If you are visiting here for the first time, make sure you check out my 500 SDIs post. That post took forever to do, but it is gets used so I’m happy that it was worth the effort. But as a result of that post, I have heard many times from readers and friends, “great! Now please do one for an IEP goal bank.” That to me is just such an overwhelming task, I can barely wrap my brain around it. I mean, if you think of all the kids, and all the special needs and challenges….and all the different goal possibilities. It would take months to list them all.

But, recently I was asked if I would come up with a list of IEP goals for Executive Functioning. That is a bit more manageable. It’s a small bite, so I decided to take it. Much like that giant SDIs post which gets revised often, I expect this one to do the same. As people find the post and read it, they will email me and leave me comments. I take those comments and add them to the post.

Related Posts: Implementing Executive Functioning Strategies in your IEP and Awesome Apps for Executive Functioning Gaps

Also, in doing the research for this post, I came across an awesome PDF resource, so here it is.

everything executive functioning handbook

I don’t know where that school district is, but I am uploading it and providing it in it’s entirety. When I find PDF resources like this, I like to do that, because over time, good content gets pulled from the internet and links get broken. This way, we’ll always have it!

I have organized the IEP Executive Functioning goals by the area that they target. Any goal can be taken from a general phrase to measurable by adding parameters. To do this, you need to know the baselines. In other words–how often is this student doing this skill now? How many times per day or week? How many teacher check-ins or verbal prompts is it taking to get this done? Know what the numbers are now, and choose a reasonable, measurable number for them to achieve. You can’t measure progress without baselines.

Also, since Executive Functioning is so broad, here are some questions for parents and teachers to talk about, to determine what needs to be worked on. One phrase that is often used is: Goal, Plan, Predict, Do, Review. So together someone works with the student to discuss the goal, plan what needs to be done, predict what could go wrong or what supplies/time you’ll need, do the goal and then review the work.

Questions to ask parents:
  • What tasks does your child need help with at home?
  • How often do you need to explain how to do a task?
  • Does your child have trouble concentrating?
  • Does your child lose things?
  • Does your child get upset with change?
  • Does your child often interrupt others?
  • Can your child plan ahead for activities?
Questions for teachers:
  • Does the student get distracted easily?
  • Does the student have an organized backpack or locker?
  • Can the child fix their own mistakes?
  • Is the child aware of the consequences of their words or actions?
  • Does the student demonstrate incomplete or careless work?
  • Can the student develop plans and strategies?

First, I found these two goals online and the suggested monitoring process was the various parts of the WISC. I know that education is becoming very data driven, but I do have concerns about a student being able to do the skills for a test, but not being able to apply it across all environments. Still, here are the two goal suggestions.

  • Student will develop the ability to attend to individual tasks and will improve processing speed through the use of timers and cuing utilized with the entire class in the general classroom.
  • Student will successfully complete 12 or more weeks of a proven cognitive enhancement program that addresses deficits in processing speed, short-term working memory, attention to detail, monitoring, sequencing and organization skills, with instruction, for at least 1 hour per day every week day, to alleviate affects of executive functioning disorder deficits.

Self-Awareness/Self Advocacy goals for an IEP:

  • Given a specific routine for monitoring task success, such as Goal-Plan-Do-Check, student will accurately identify tasks that are easy/difficult for him
  • Given a difficult task, student will (verbally or nonverbally) indicate that it is difficult
  • Student will explain why some tasks are easy/difficult for him, help develop management strategies
  • Student will request help when tasks are difficult
  • Student will offer help to others when he is more capable than the other child
  • If student has negative behaviors, debriefing session held at appropriate time and place and student is able to identify his triggers and possible strategies.

Organizing goals for an IEP:

  • Given support and visual cues, student will create a system for organizing personal items in his locker/desk/notebook
  • To tell an organized story, student will place photographs in order and then narrate the sequence of events. Given visual cues and fading adult support, student will select and use a system to organize his assignments and other school work
  • Given a complex task, student name will organize the task on paper, including the materials needed, the steps to accomplish the task, and a time frame
  • Using learned strategies and given fading adult support, student will prepare an organized outline before proceeding with writing projects.
    student will improve organization skills for classroom work and homework through specific, repetitive instruction, and use of (list SDIs or supports) and measured by a frequency or %

Self-Monitoring, Self-Evaluating goals for an IEP:

  • Given training in a self regulatory routine and visual cues and fading adult supports, student will accurately predict how effectively he will accomplish a task. For example, he will accurately predict whether or not he will be able to complete a task; predict how many (of something) he can finish; predict his grade on tests; predict how many problems he will be able to complete in a specific time period; etc.
  • Given a specific work checking routine, student will identify errors in his work without teacher assistance.
    student’s rating of his performance on a 10-point scale will be within one point of the teacher’s rating.
  • Student will self-initiate editing activities to correct spelling, punctuation, capitalization and grammar on all typical classroom assignments in all settings
  • Student will self-edit his work to correct spelling, punctuation, capitalization and grammar on all typical classroom assignments in all settings to eliminate all errors from his work

Problem Solving goals for an IEP:

  • Given training in and visual reminders of, self regulatory scripts student will manage unexpected events and violations of routine without disrupting classroom activities
  • Student will use a structured recipe or routine for generating new ideas, or brainstorming to respond successfully to open ended assignments
  • When faced with changes and/or transitions in activities or environments, student will initiate the new activity after {decreasing number of supports}
  • Given concrete training, visual supports and fading adult cuing, student will appropriately label flexible and stuck behaviors in himself
  • Given training and practice with the concept of compromise, and in the presence of visual supports, student will accept and generate compromise solutions to conflicts when working cooperatively with others

Personal goal setting/self correction and improvement:

  • Student will participate with teachers and therapists in setting instructional and therapy goals
  • Given explicit instruction, visual reminders, and fading adult support, student will successfully distinguish target goals (doing well in school, making a friend, learning to read, graduating from school) from interfering goals (playing video games instead of doing homework)
  • Having failed to achieve a predicted grade on a test, student will create a plan for improving performance for the next test

Keeping track of time/planning/time management:

  • Given a routine, student will indicate what steps or items are needed and the order of the events
  • Student will learn (after helping to develop) a self regulatory plan for carrying out any multiple step task (completing homework, writing an essay, doing a project) and given practice, visual cues and fading adult supports, will apply the plan independently to new situations
  • Given a selection of 3 activities for a therapy or instructional session, student will indicate their order, create a plan on paper and stick to the plan
  • Given a task that he correctly identifies as difficult for him, student will create a plan for accomplishing the task


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