For the Content, Daily Living Skills, and Employability Training Areas
In their discussion of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Rosenberg, O’Shea, and O’Shea (2002) emphasize that “Beginning teachers may be expected to demonstrate knowledge of the federal law from the first day of school,” and such demonstration involves “implementing and monitoring measurable annual goals, … and short-term objectives…” Moreover, they emphasize the need for “new teachers to work with other professionals and students’ families, using, sharing, processing and joint problem-solving skills to avoid legal injustice” (p. 38).
A measurable range of IEPs is necessary for any student with disabilities, regardless of whether the student is in a special education or an inclusionary classroom; and the obvious basis for this necessity is the global enhancement of each student. However, the legal welfare of both the student and the district may be dependent on clearly defined and singularly interpretable IEPs. Specifically, Dr. Dennis Fair, Pennsylvania Due Process Hearing Officer, reports, “I have been a Due Process Hearing Officer since 1975, and have conducted hundreds of hearings. In my estimation, over 90% of those occur because of inappropriately written IEPs.” Hence, measurable IEPs are educational and legal imperatives (Interview, October 12, 2018).
Examples of long-term and the sequential short-term IEP objectives for each of the major content, daily living skills, and vocational training areas are presented in this section. As with the previously presented areas, however, total coverage of every segment of these areas is spatially impossible. Nevertheless, the following examples can serve as models for extrapolation to the other segments.
Increased specificity is the distinguishing factor that separates long- term and short-term objectives. Long-term objectives involve general goals, whereas short-term plans are the measurable means through which these general goals are achieved. When writing long-term objectives, the use of nebulous terms such as “understanding,” “comprehension,” etc. is permitted, but only when these terms are coupled with performance terms (e.g. “demonstrate”) or precursors to performance terms (e.g. “evidence”):
The student will demonstrate understanding by…;
The student will evidence comprehension of the task by…
With this inclusion of a performance term, the long-term objective sets the tone for the clear, specific, and measurable dictates of the short-term plan objective. In efforts to achieve such precision, some authors (e.g. Kubiszyn and Borich, 2003) recommend that these objectives contain three components:
- An observable student behavior;
- The conditions under which the behavior is expected to occur;
- Minimal standards of acceptable performance.
Example: On a worksheet containing ten, two-digit addition problems (Conditions ), the student will solve (Behavior ) at least eight (Minimal Standards ).
For the most part, conditions are usually important components of short-term objectives. However, observable student behaviors and minimal standards of performance are virtually indispensable components of all short-term objectives because they provide the baseline for determining whether the objectives have been achieved.
Engagement in higher- order thought process is a prerequisite to optimal student learning in both the inclusive and the special education classroom. As assistance to these engagements, several hierarchical models are available, e.g., those of Bloom (1956) and spin offs like Gagne (1985), Krathwohl (1994), Anderson and Krathwohl (2001), and Webb (2002). Hence, we have opted for Bloom’s original because of its simplicity and wide-spread familiarity. Bloom’s original model will serve as our reference point throughout the book.
Summary of Bloom’s Basic Cognitive Domain
- KNOWLEDGE: Recognition or recall of previously learned information; no comprehension or understanding of the information is implied.
- COMPREHENSION The ability to understand or summarize information; translating information from one form or level to another; predicting continuations in trends of data.
- APPLICATION The ability to take information that has previously been acquired and comprehended and use it in concrete situations.
- ANALYSIS The ability to break down a unified whole into its basic parts and understand the relationship among these parts; determining cause and effect relationships; understanding analogies and metaphor; determining classifications.
- SYNTHESIS The assemblage of parts into a new whole; the formulation of a new hypothesis or plan of action; constructing a solution to an unfamiliar problem.
- EVALUATION The ability to judge a phenomenon on the basis of predetermined criteria or internal consistency.