Examples of Alternative IEP Goals

Writing goals on an alternative IEP can be a daunting task for a teacher who has never done it before. That has been my experience this year as it is my first year teaching an amazing group of students with Developmental Disabilities.

I have written many modified IEPs over the course of my career. I am very comfortable increasing or decreasing the complexity and/or number of the Ontario Curriculum expectations. I know who to consult and what information I need to gather to make an informed decision about these types of goals for my students. However, writing Alternative Goals required a whole new set of skills this year.

Since Alternative expectations represent skills that are not represented in the Ontario curriculum it is sometimes difficult to know where to begin. For many students in Ontario, they will have Alternative expectations in addition to their modified expectations such as speech remediation or social skills. However, for some students their entire IEP will be Alternative.

So where do you begin?

If your students have been in school for a few years, the face place to find information is the OSR. In the Ontario Student Record, you can see what kind of services and goals have been recommended in the previous school years. You can also refer to previous IEPs to help get your started. If your OSRs arrived a messy blob of papers, take the time now to organize them. A friend of mine sat with me in September to walk me through organizing the hundreds of papers and it has saved my life. I am either filing or referring to an item in my OSRs at least once a week this year so they have to be organized.

The next place to turn is people. Consult with the families and Special Education colleagues. Families play an important role in helping set goals and can give you great ideas about IEP goals. For example, in December one of my parents contacted me and asked if we could work on fastening buttons during our fine motor skill development time as her son was starting to wear jeans to school and needed to learn the skill.

Finally, data collection will play an ongoing role in the creation and updating of goals throughout the year. I do assessments on my students consistently throughout the year. If you want some ideas about what to assess and how to assess things that are not curriculum based, I recommend using one of the two following resources.

The FISH (Functional Independence Skills Handbook)



The Carolina Curriculum (both the infant/toddler and preschooler resource)

Carolina Curriculum


They will help you gather the information you need.  Both are incredibly expensive to buy, so borrow them from your resource department or special education team.

Here are some examples of what your goals could look like. I am not an expert by any means but if you are like me, sometimes examples can be a really helpful place to get started.


_______ will attend to a self-selected activity without being distracted or losing interest for 10 minutes.

_______  will work on completing teacher directed tasks for 25 minutes.


_______ will count to 100 with 75% accuracy.

_______ will demonstrate one-to-one correspondence up to 10 between numbers and objects with 75% accuracy.

_______  will identify time that is personally relevant to her and use it to independently begin tasks.

Life Skills

_______ will wash her face and put the facecloth in the laundry bin daily after lunch.

_______ will use a visual guide to assist her with the steps necessary to establish routines regarding menstrual activities (e.g., bringing necessary items to school, changing pads, disposing of pads, washing hands)

_______ will brush her teeth and put on deodorant daily after lunch.

Personal and Social Development

______  will successfully participate in a turn taking game with a peer, 3 out of 5 opportunities

______  will orally express when someone is in her personal space.

______  will work on sharing the classroom materials with other students.


_______ will demonstrate a choice between two types of food for snack time by pointing to the item.

_______ will point to a picture when he wants to request a walk.

IEPs for Music

This week I am faced with the task of completing my term two IEPs for the subject area of music. Below is my process in determining the need for a student to be placed on an IEP for music and some of the past comments that I have used for my students.

Determining the need

Every year in term one and term two, I receive a list from the special education support team of students that are on an IEP. Attached to this list is the question of whether or not I feel that any of the students currently on an IEP require specialized goals for music.

The first question that I ask myself when determining whether or not a student requires an IEP comment for music is “Does the student’s exceptionality impair their ability to be academically successful in music?” In order to determine the answer to this question, I gather some assessment data on the student. This can be challenging at the beginning of the school year when the IEP needs to be completed in a very tight time frame. To help speed up the process, I recommend reading the student’s IPRC’s statement of decision or previous IEPs as they can direct you to analyze the student’s specific exceptionality in the context of your class. Afterwards, I watch my students for impairments in things like receptive language, language processing, expressive language, cognitive abilities, sensory engagement, visual spatial processing and both fine and gross motor skills. In a nutshell, after I have read the decision about the student’s needs in their OSR, I watch closely to see how that impacts their learning in music.

Once I have evidence to support my decision, I go about setting the direction for the music section of the IEP. After analyzing the data, I must decide whether to modify the number of expectations or modify the grade level expectations that I am using to assess the student. In addition, if the student is on an alternative IEP, I must create a measurable goal for them. I do my best to create a goal that will both challenge the student and ensure success for them.

After I have decided on the goal for the term, I compile the accommodations, assessment methods and annual program goals for the students. I then pass all of the information over to the teacher in charge of the IEP. See below for some examples.

Comments for Alternative IEPS

will demonstrate a response to a variety of songs once in a music period.

will physically respond to music (e.g., claps hands, whole body movements).

will participate in music 30% of the time

will participate in music class by singing and playing the xylophone, drums and unpitched instruments for 30 minutes every class

will create and perform a simple composition with some support

will perform a musical piece in front of a large audience

will participate and explore on the xylophone, drums and unpitched instruments

will ask music teacher or peers for help

Comments for IEPs

will apply the creative process to create and perform simple music compositions from modified musical notation.

will sing unison songs in tune and play simple accompaniments.

will perform simple music compositions from modified musical notation.

will communicate his feelings and ideas in response to a piece of music.

will respond to a piece of music through movement and using a light show.

will sing unison songs in tune and/or play simple melodies and accompaniments for music from a wide variety of cultures, styles and historical periods.

will create and perform music in unison on the xylophone and unpitched percussion instruments.

Assessment Methods

Observation of student playing an instrument


music performance

self-reflection after singing a song

demonstration of moving to music


Colour cues

Large size font

Use of headphones

Visual cueing

Extra time for processing




Resources – Here are a few resources to give some guidance when writing IEPs.

PRS Matters has written a great bulletin called “The Individual Education Plan (IEP)-What You Need To Know http://www.etfo.ca/AdviceForMembers/PRSMattersBulletins/Pages/Individual%20Education%20Plan%20Advice%20to%20Members.aspx

A great resource for writing IEPS is located on the Ministry website “The Individual Education Plan (IEP), A Resource Guide (2004)”