Measurable Spelling IEP Goals

Last Updated on October 3, 2023 by Editorial Team


Learning how to spell is a tough nut for most children. It can be made even more difficult if the child has a developmental learning concern like dyslexia.

In these cases, the student, after getting their diagnosis from a professional, is usually referred to a special educator who can effectively meet their unique learning needs with alternative learning methods and interventions. Special Educators, after meticulous assessment, assign the students their Individualised Education Plan or IEP, which is meant to enhance their educational outcomes.

This blog will look at how IEPs help in spelling by setting specific and measurable goals.

Spelling IEP Goals

The fact that individuals with dyslexia have a hard time spelling has been known for a long time, but its reason has been debated by different researchers and academics. A 2018 meta-analysis summarizing the results of various studies found that the cause lies in working memory, transcription, and executive functioning skills[1]

A 2020 study analyzed several interventions and their subsequent effectiveness in improving the spelling skills of individuals with dyslexia. It found that interventions that take phonic, orthographic (graphotactic or orthographic phonological spelling rules), and morphological phonological approaches to instruction greatly improve their performance on spelling tests[2].

These are exactly the kind of research-based alternative approaches that are implemented by special educators while making and delivering the Individualized Education Plans of individuals with dyslexia. These approaches are adopted in the form of goals that meet the unique needs and learning requirements of each individual.

Studies have also found that as individuals get older and receive various interventions, after a certain point, the spelling errors made by individuals with dyslexia tend to become similar to those who don’t have dyslexia[3][4]. This happens because these interventions and alternative learning strategies provided by IEPs and enforced by their stringent goal setting and implementation help individuals with dyslexia build on their strengths to overcome their weaknesses. Summarized below is a list of some IEP goals for spelling:

  1. The student will correctly spell at least a certain decided-upon percentage of words, for example, 75 percent, in a spelling test.
  2. The student will engage in learning how to spell a certain amount of new words, for example, 20 new words, every week.
  3. The student will learn how to generalize their knowledge of spelling words that sound the same, for example, spelling the word call based on the learned spelling of the word ball.
  4. The student can use an online tool that marks incorrect spelling or grammar usage while writing assignments but will correct the spelling themselves.
  5. The student will use similar-looking letters like ‘p’, ‘d’, ‘q’, and ‘b’ correctly most of the time without the need for software to point them out for them.
  6. The student will use suffixes that are appropriate according to the tense. For example, they won’t use learned instead of learned in the sentence “Larry has learned the art of music from the best”.
  7. The student will make an effort to learn and correctly use words with different vowel and consonant patterns. For example, words like cat, bat, and rat follow the CVC pattern but words like pea, tie, and bee follow the CVV pattern.
  8. The student will develop a personalized dictionary based on the things that they often tend to struggle with. The goal of this dictionary would be to come in handy in times of emergencies when all else has failed and slowly make the individual an independent speller.
  9. The student will be able to sort lowercase jumbled letters into comprehendible words about 80 to 90 percent of the time. For example, rearranging the letters o, a, t, and g to form the word goat.
  10. The student will be able to pick out the correct spelling from a pair or group of similar-looking but incorrect spellings. For example, the student will be able to pick out the correct spelling of parrot from the group of words containing perret, porrat, parrot and barrot.

Strategies for effective IEP goal-setting

The importance and impact of IEP goals have been highlighted above, along with some possible examples of the same. Since these goals serve a crucial role, it is vital that they are set appropriately. Some guidelines to keep in mind while setting IEP goals could be:

1. Identify unique needs

Not every student with dyslexia is the same and neither are their struggles. The underlying problem can range from trouble identifying and distinguishing between similar-looking words to problems with distinguishing between the spellings of similar-sounding but differently spelled words. The key to an effective IEP goal, in such a situation, would be to first identify what is the underlying cause behind the student’s struggle and adapt the goals to reflect their unique learning needs.

2. SMART Goals

SMART is an acronym standing for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Usually used in the context of organizations, the concept of SMART goals can and should be used while setting IEP goals. This will ensure that the student feels that the goal caters to their unique needs, understands what it is and how it will be achieved, and knows how the progress in the goals will show up in a quantifiable manner like improved performance on tests. It also encourages the student to regularly work hard to turn that goal into reality as soon as possible.


3. Assess and update regularly

Since the student will be working on the goal regularly, it is also important that their progress is tracked and their performance for that particular goal is assessed regularly. This helps in the timely updation of goals that accurately reflect the current level of performance of the individual and the areas they need to work on.

Furthermore, there are different spelling programs too, for kids with learning disabilities like dyslexia that can be utilized by parents, instructors, and educators to help the little ones grasp better, and much faster. 


Learning how to spell is a tough task which can be extra hard if the individual has dyslexia. This is where Special Education saves the day and helps in formulating Individualized Education Plans with specific goals that cater to the unique needs of the individual. Some examples of these goals can look like the student learning to spell a specific number of new words every week, correctly differentiating between and using similar-looking letters like ‘p’, ‘d’, etc., or using the correct suffixes based on the tenses in the sentence, etc.

These goals, if implemented with unique and alternative approaches to instruction, can be instrumental in enhancing the student’s spelling skills. This is why it is important that special care is taken while setting them such that the unique needs of the individual are taken into account, the strategy of SMART goals is implemented and the progress on these goals is regularly assessed and they are updated to best reflect the current needs of the student.


  1. Hebert, M., Kearns, D. M., Hayes, J. B., Bazis, P., & Cooper, S. (2018). Why children with dyslexia struggle with writing and how to help them. Language, speech, and hearing services in schools, 49(4), 843-863.
  2. Galuschka, K., Görgen, R., Kalmar, J., Haberstroh, S., Schmalz, X., & Schulte-Körne, G. (2020). Effectiveness of spelling interventions for learners with dyslexia: A meta-analysis and systematic review. Educational Psychologist, 55(1), 1-20.
  3. Bourassa, D., & Treiman, R. (2003). Spelling in children with dyslexia: Analyses from the Treiman-Bourassa early spelling test. Scientific studies of reading, 7(4), 309-333.
  4. Cassar, M., Treiman, R., Moats, L., Pollo, T. C., & Kessler, B. (2005). How do the spellings of children with dyslexia compare with those of nondyslexic children?. Reading and Writing, 18(1), 27-49.

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