, Volume 55, Issue 1, pp 53-78

The inadequacy of individual educational program (IEP) goals for high school students with word-level reading difficulties

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Abstract

This investigation analyzed goals from the Individual Educational Programs (IEPs) of 54 high school students with diagnosed reading disabilities in basic skills (decoding and/or word identification). Results showed that for 73% of the students, the IEPs written when they were in high school failed to specify any objectives regarding their acute difficulties with basic skills. IEPs from earlier points in the students’ educations were also reviewed, as available. For 23 of the students, IEPs were present in the students’ files for three time points: elementary school (ES), middle school (MS), and high school (HS). Another 20 students from the sample of 54 had IEPs available for two time points (HS and either MS or ES). Comparisons with the IEPs from younger years showed a pattern of decline from ES to MS to HS in the percentage of IEPs that commented on or set goals pertaining to weaknesses in decoding. These findings suggest that basic skills deficits that persist into the upper grade levels are not being sufficiently targeted for remediation, and help explain why older students frequently fail to resolve their reading problems.