Basing Part of Grade on IEP Goal Progress

What is basing part of a grade on IEP Goal Progress?

One purpose for grades is to communicate progress on individual goals, as is the case with a grading adaptation involving progress on IEP goals. It is important to note that basing part of a student's grade on progress on an IEP goal does not mean that the IEP goals are, in effect, the curriculum for the student. Rather, the grading adaptation is designed so that the student is provided opportunities to practice and improve skills targeted while participating in the general curriculum. For example, a student with an IEP goal to improve reading comprehension through use of a variety of reading strategies will have opportunities to apply strategies in content classes on a regular basis. In fact, use of strategies on the regular classroom materials is highly desirable for promoting generalization of skills. For progress on a reading comprehension goal to be incorporated into a grade for the content area class, the special and general educators must collaborate to determine how and when the student's comprehension will be assessed. Assessment may occur during a regular class assignment, or special assessments may be added. For a goal involving reading comprehension, assessment may involve simply observing the student read and use strategies periodically, or may involve curriculum-based assessments.

How do I convert progress on IEP into a grade?

Converting progress into points, percentages, or grades is perhaps the most difficult step in making this adaptation. Because IEP goals are written with specified mastery criteria (e.g., 90% accuracy for 5 consecutive opportunities), it may be tempting to use such criteria as the grading scale, with the mastery criteria (e.g., 90%) as the cutoff for an A. However, this practice is not recommended because it presumes that the criteria for benchmarks, short-term objectives, or goals can be set at levels attainable by the student with a desirable level of support and effort. In reality, we can only estimate what level of mastery is attainable in a given period of time and multiple factors, including quality and frequency of instruction, can influence progress toward mastery. Therefore, it is recommended that the procedure for converting progress into points, percentages, or grades be designed by the special and general educator to "fit" the grading system currently in use. Returning to above example involving a goal to improve reading comprehension, the general and special educator might determine that the student would be assessed using a checklist of specific steps in the reading strategy. The student might receive points for each step performed during the assessment, and those points could be applied toward the student's grade in class work, or could be accumulated and added to point totals in other performance areas when calculating the report card grade. In this scenario, progress on IEP goals would reflect progress in that particular class.

Table of benefits and limitations to making adaptations involving progress on IEP goals.

The following table summarizes the potential benefits and limitations of an adaptation involving progress on IEP goals:

How adaptation works.

Potential benefits


Team selects an IEP goal or objective that addresses a skill area (e.g., improve reading comprehension) affecting performance on many types of assignments. General and special educators collaborate to identify opportunities for student to practice skill targeted by goal, and opportunities for progress to be measured on typical classroom assignments or with special assessments. Criteria for translating progress into a grade are established.

Incentive for the student, parent, and teachers to strive for progress on the IEP goals. 

Resulting grade reflects individual progress, as well as other information. 

Incentive to implement the student's IEP in the general education classroom(s). 

When IEP goals focus on a critical skill, progress should be associated with improved performance on the general curriculum.

Team must avoid assigning too much weight to progress on the IEP goal, as it may not always result in significant increase in general performance in the class.