Measurable annual goals and benchmarks (or short-term instructional objectives) allow you to track your child’s progress in school and help you determine if the educational program is appropriate to meet his unique educational needs. Goals and benchmarks/objectives are also important because they help form and guide your child’s specific instructional plans. An IEP is not designed to be a detailed instructional plan; but, the teacher’s instructional plans should relate directly to IEP goals and benchmarks/objectives.
The goals and benchmarks/objectives help define what kind of special education program and related services the district must provide. The district must provide the programs and services necessary to meet the goals and objectives in your child’s IEP. If you ask for a particular kind of special education program or service, the school district is not required to provide it unless it is necessary to meet an IEP goal or benchmark/objective.
In addition, the determination of whether your child is meeting his IEP goals and benchmark/objectives is critical to developing an appropriate educational program. The IEP must therefore include a description for each goal of how your child’s progress will be measured, and when periodic progress reports will be provided. [Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56345(a)(3).]
The appropriateness of your child’s program is measured by whether he is making progress toward the central goals of the IEP. [County of San Diego v. Special Education Hearing Office, 93 F.3d 1458, 1461 (9th Cir. 1996).] Therefore, the IEP team must develop IEP goals that are ambitious in your child’s circumstance.