Vocabulary IEP Goals for Speech Therapy: Importance, list, assessment tips, strategies

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Teaching kids with special needs to speak can be overwhelming if there is no definite guideline available. Also, the child may tend to stray away from the learning process if there are no goals in sight. That is why a legal document has been prepared by the US govt called IEP goals. The Govt stipulates that all public schools should follow this IEP goal bank so that kids get the requisite help needed to achieve appropriate proficiency. Vocabulary IEP goals help design the speech therapy sessions in alignment with the Government’s guidelines.

Importance of Vocabulary IEP goals in imparting speech therapy

Speech therapy is recommended for children who cannot form words in mind or sound them out correctly due to some deficiency. These children may lack vocabulary building skills because of under-developed phonics and phonemic awareness. Individual with Disabilities Education Act, the Family Educational and Privacy Rights Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 base the IEP implementation to provide well-oriented teaching. These rules can help meet the objectives of speech therapy in the following ways:

  • Teachers can design the instruction plan or speech sessions with IEP goals in focus.
  • They can ascertain if there are special tools needed to impart speech and vocabulary fluency
  • IEP goals act as the benchmark for assessing whether the proficiency level is attained or if it requires extra repetitions.

Now that we know the importance of IEP goals for speech therapy, let’s take a look at the proposed IEP goal list that focuses on vocabulary development in children with special learning needs.

List of Vocabulary IEP Goals that Organizes Speech Therapy

Kansas In-Service Training System and various other Govt-run IEPS follow the IEP goal list. It must be understood that the IEP goal should be a S.M.A.R.T. goal, which means it should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Thus, these are formed in consultation with parent or guardian and have an easily comprehensible structure, that goes something like:

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By (time), a student will (mention skill) in (mention place) as measured by (name who will assess) with (level of accuracy – number of times or %) with or without using (mention support, if any).

For example, in case of vocabulary building, the goal reads something like:

By 10 weeks, Paul will speak 4 words from a sentence in classroom to be assessed by his teacher with 4 or 5 repetitions while reading a book .

Listed below is the list of vocabulary-based IEP goals set for an elementary school student as per the standards set by the Kentucky Department of Education.

  • Make meaningful words from phoneme: Differentiate and combine phonemes to sound out the word
  • Convert combined letters to sounds and then blend sounds to form recognizable words: Child should read each letter and then combine to form the word
  • Display understanding of synonyms and antonyms: Learn similar meaning and opposites of words commonly used
  • Complete sentence with the correct homonym: Know see/sea, hole/whole, etc., and make a sentence with each.
  • Add suffix and prefix to words: For example, learn to use ‘in’, ‘un’, ‘mis’=-”, as prefix and ‘able’, ‘ly’, etc. as suffix to form new words.
  • Identify words families: Learn words families wise such as ‘it’ sound words, ‘at’ sound words, etc.
  • Recognize and read high-frequency words or sight words: Recognize words like I, me, we, her, here, there, etc.
  • Decode unfamiliar words: If any word heard for the first time, the child should decode it into its various parts, or spell it.
  • Learn and use academic words with contextual meaning: Develop an understanding of specialized words like a test, research, evaluation, performance, grades, etc. used in academics.
  • Learn and use domain-specific words: Learn about different domains and words applicable there. For example, know that law, clause, ruling, section, etc. words are applicable in the legal domain.
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The time limit, the number of repetitions, place of assessment, etc. are determined by consulting with parents teaching assistants, and other related entities.

Ways to decide IEP goals for building vocabulary to make speech therapy effective

IEP goals may need changes in a child-centric manner, according to the level of learning disability prevalent in him or her. Thus, the teachers may follow these assessment tips to decide IEP goals:

  • Do peer comparison: Check proficiency levels of children and compare them
  • Interview child: Talk with the child and ask questions but hidden in a normal conversation to assess the learning need
  • Interview parents: Find everything about the child’s routine, learning abilities, and shortcomings by talking to parents
  • Compare abilities with a chosen sample: A sample of students and their efficiency levels can be set as a benchmark and then the child’s abilities are compared to that.
  • Take assessment tests: Tests like WJ Oral Language Subtest, etc. are available to employ to set IEP goals.

Strategies to implement vocabulary IEP goals for speech therapy

IEPs are designed to give education to special children the way they can benefit from it. Thus, the whole process involves working out strategies so that educational goals for such children become feasible. They should not feel left out, nor should feel dragged into some rat race. The whole teaching process should feel smooth, seamless, and aptly designed for the child. Individualized education can be imparted by following some strategies, such as:

  • Teach parts of speech like noun and verb through sentence manipulatives
  • Assist students with reading programs to develop vocabulary
  • Play vocabulary based-games
  • Prepare anchor charts like word families charts, sight words charts, noun, and adjective charts, etc.
  • Hold group discussion and encourage children to speak small sentences or ask them to repeat anything they read in a storybook
  • Take assessment tests weekly, fortnightly, and monthly as per the growth’s observation needs of the student
  • Give worksheets on antonyms, synonyms, and homonyms to solve and also for the ‘make sentence’ activity.
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To sum up,

IEP goals for vocabulary can help children attain writing and reading fluency. In cases where speech therapy is required for improving a child’s communication efficiency, these IEPs serve as a guiding resource. Having got the federal authorities’ backing, every public school engaged in special education is expected to follow these IEP goals. If your children have not done up to the mark, there are bright chances of goals and teaching strategies not designed by the school in alignment with their abilities. Hence, it is important to know about these IEP goals and ensure that the schools do the needful as stipulated by the Law.


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