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IEP Goals: S.M.A.R.T.E.R. STEPS® Guide

Kelly Ott, EdD, MHS, CCC-SLP

Course Abstract

IEP Goals: S.M.A.R.T.E.R. STEPS® Guide is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that provides a framework for writing legally compliant IEP goals.

Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings give parents and professionals a chance to work together to design an IEP for children with learning disabilities who have been determined eligible for special education. The goals for academic achievement and functional performance set for each child are the core of the IEP. Goals represent what you and the other IEP team members think the child will be able to accomplish in their area(s) of disability - academic, developmental, and functional - in a year’s time. Annual goals must be written in measurable terms. 

This course will focus on teaching professionals how to write legally compliant IEP goals using the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Steps framework. These steps contain a variety of time-saving tips to help special education professionals understand the legal jargon related to IEP goal development. Examples will be provided to demonstrate the strategy so that participants can have a bank of goals for reference. Real scenarios will be problem-solved within the framework, so participants can have practical advice to share with their IEP teams.

Research on the need for compliant IEP goals will be presented based on the US Deptartment of Education's findings from the Results Driven Accountability measures. Implications of these findings will be discussed as they relate to federal funding being tied to test results and progress on IEP goals. Recent court decisions will also be reviewed to emphasize the importance of developing compliant IEP goals.

Course #21-35 | 2019 | 44 pages | 16 posttest questions

Learning Objectives

1. Explain the purpose of developing an IEP goal
2. Define “individualized” as it pertains to writing an IEP goal
3. Explain the impact of the IDEA on education for children with disabilities
4. Describe the ‘Results Driven Accountability’ Framework
5. Explain how the SMARTER Steps system helps professionals to write legally compliant IEP goals
6. Identify each part of the SMARTER mnemonic as written in IEP goals

Professional Development Resources is a CPE Accredited Provider with the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR #PR001). CPE accreditation does not constitute endorsement by CDR of provider programs or materials. Feedback for this activity can be sent directly to CDR. Professional Development Resources is also a provider with the Florida Council of Dietetics and Nutrition (#50-1635) and is CE Broker compliant (#50-1635 - all courses are reported within two business days of completion).

Download CDR's Critical Thinking Tool - CDR credentialed practitioners must complete and save this form and the certificate of completion should they ever be audited. Failure to include both certificate and completed tool will result in a failed audit and loss of CPE credit. Feedback about the quality of the activity can be sent directly to CDR: QualityCPE@eatright.org


This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. The course is text-based (reading) and the CE test is open-book (you can print the test to mark your answers on it while reading the course document).

Successful completion of this course involves passing an online test (80% required, 3 chances to take) and we ask that you also complete a brief course evaluation. Click here to learn more.

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About the Author(s)

Kelly Ott, EdD, MHS, CCC-SLP, is a certified speech-language pathologist, education consultant, and national public speaker. Kelly is a founding partner of SMARTER Steps, a national consulting business for professionals, parents, and individuals with disabilities. She provides professional development and training for educators, administrators, professionals, and parents related to IEP services and self-advocacy. Kelly has co-authored over 100 online continuing education titles, IEP resources, and materials for educators and professionals, as well as the book, The SMARTER Guide to Creating IEP Goals. Kelly has also served as a regular education teacher, a special education director, and a K-8 administrator. She has been recognized by colleagues as a person dedicated to helping each student learn and grow.


Content: This presentation will focus exclusively on information on how to write IEP goals using the SMARTER Steps Framework and will not include information about other similar or related frameworks for writing IEP goals.

Financial: Kelly Ott is a founding partner of S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Steps®, a national consulting business, and is paid to present professional development and training for administrators, professionals, and parents related to IEP services and self-advocacy. She also receives royalties on her book The SMARTER Guide to Creating IEP Goals.

Nonfinancial: No relevant non-financial relationship exists.

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